Senator Brian Stewart is urging Illinoisans to speak up and help put a fair maps amendment on the ballot for the next election, giving voters the power to pick their legislators instead of letting lawmakers pick their voters.
The 45th District Senator joined his Senate Republican colleagues at a Capitol press conference February 6, supporting the passage of Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4, a bipartisan measure that would give voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps.
“The current redistricting system in Illinois allows one party to draw legislative boundaries in such a way as to significantly influence the partisan makeup of a district. ‘Gerrymandering’ allows politicians to steal the election before the voters even go to the polls, and shape the direction of our state government and public policy for decades,” Stewart said.
Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would place the question of fair maps on the ballot for the next statewide election. So far, however, entrenched political leaders haven’t allowed similar bills to advance, despite a nationwide call for fair map plans from members of both parties.
“I stand with the people who are demanding change. We need a constitutional amendment to ease the stranglehold that a few leaders have on the process,” Stewart said. “It’s time to open the doors and air out those back rooms where politicians have forced their deals upon us … for far too long. Let’s let the people of Illinois decide.”
Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift district lines to create an advantage for the members of their party. This system is what creates strangely-shaped districts and uncompetitive elections.
Senate Republican lawmakers are giving the people of Illinois the opportunity to voice their support for fairer maps in Illinois by visiting http://senategop.state.il.us/ and signing the fair maps petition. Stewart says a petition is also available on his legislative website at http://senatorstewart.com/.
“Healthy democracy requires competitive elections and new ideas. Our current system, which gives the party in power ultimate authority to redraw legislative maps, inhibits that,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington. “We need to take the power of drawing legislative maps away from politicians and give the people of this state the opportunity to vote on a new redistricting system.”
Sponsored by lawmakers from both parties, Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in.