LWVIL worked with the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative in the Spring 2018 Legislative Session to have the IL General Assembly place the Fair Maps Amendment, an Amendment to the IL Constitution, on the November 2018 ballot. Identical bills were introduced in the IL Senate (SJRCA26) and the IL House (HJRCA43). The Fair Maps Amendment received bipartisan support in both chambers, gaining 28 cosponsors in the Illinois House and the support of two-thirds (39 members) of the Illinois Senate. The Amendment was not called for a vote in either legislative chamber by the May 6th deadline to place it on the November ballot.
The Fair Maps Amendment would:
Support for a redistricting process which is timely, orderly and meets the basic criteria relating to population, compactness and contiguity and the requirements of the 1965 U.S. Voting Rights Act and subsequent amendments.
The League supports a redistricting process which is:
Overview: Toolkit--Slides “Redistricting: Everything You Need to Know”
FAQ's: Map Amendment – FAQs
What is wrong with the current process?:
How is this solution an improvement?:
Editorial: From Arizona to Illinois, a lesson delivered by a Peorian
Nonpartisan redistricting plan gaining support, proponents say - November 9, 2015
Press release: Independent Maps reaches 400,000 signatures
For LWVIL and the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative, the fight for drawing of fair legislative maps is a long game, building up public and legislative support through the 2021 redistricting process. The Collaborative will likely work to place a constitutional amendment proposal on the November 2020 ballot to the affect the redistricting process in 2021.
This spring the US Supreme Court heard two cases dealing with partisan gerrymandering, a Wisconsin case, Gill v. Whitford, and a Maryland case, Benisek v. Lamone. The Court passed up the opportunities to rule on when and whether states violate the Constitution by drawing electoral maps that sharply favor one political party, leaving unresolved the glut of challenges to political maps working their way through federal courts.
In the Maryland case, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a district court judge’s decision not to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s 2011 congressional map. The high court also said the urgency of the request was undermined by the fact that most of the plaintiffs — Republican voters in Western Maryland who said the state's Democratic-controlled government violated their constitutional rights by rejiggering the state's congressional lines to oust a long-serving GOP congressman — failed to sue for five years after the map was enacted. 1
In the Wisconsin dispute, the justices ruled unanimously that the Democratic voters challenging a state legislative map drawn in 2011 failed to prove they were injured by the drawing of the new boundaries.
Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion noted that none of the individual plaintiffs in the case claimed to be in a district that was intentionally filled with a disproportionate number of Democrats ("packed") or drained of such voters ("cracked") in an attempt to give Republicans a near-guaranteed win. They did not prove that they were individually harmed by the drawing of their district.1
Illinois Redistricting Collaborative The Illinois Redistricting Collaborative, the coalition of organizations working on redistricting in Illinois, met on October 23. The group has developed Redistricting Principles, Strategies to Promote Changes in Redistricting and a Gerrymandering Survey for Gubernatorial Candidates. LWVIL has been asked to sign onto the Redistricting Principles. These principles fit in well with the LWVUS Redistricting position. The group will likely ask Illinois state legislative candidates to complete a survey on redistricting, sponsor events to educate the public, and work to have the Illinois General Assembly place a Constitutional Amendment on the 2018 or 2020 General Election Ballot.
Gill v. Whitford
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments for the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Gill v. Whitford on October 3. Gill examines the constitutionality of the partisan gerrymandering effected by the Wisconsin legislature. SCOTUS has interceded numerous times and overturned maps based on racial gerrymandering, but Gill is presenting a huge test about the use of party ID and affiliation, merit similar scrutiny.
The last time a partisan gerrymander case was heard at the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy noted that there was no way to test and measure when normal political instincts turned into an unconstitutional dilution of someone else’s vote and when that line was crossed. The lawyers in Whitford hope to present this case as an extreme and clear-cut example of that line being crossed. They believe a test called the “efficiency gap”, which measures the difference between the parties' respective wasted votes in an election divided by the total number of votes cast, will determine and stop future gerrymanders.
On July 18, 2016 Cook County Circuit Court Judge, Diane Larsen, handed down a ruling that the Independent Map Amendment to the Illinois Constitution is unconstitutional. Independent Maps filed an appeal directly to the Illinois Supreme Court. On July 28th LWVIL as part of a diverse coalition of two dozen business, consumer and public interest organizations filed an amicus with the Illinois Supreme Court urging it “to allow democracy to prevail and to let the people have their vote” on the Independent Map amendment in the November election. Independent Maps filed its final brief to the Court on August 9th arguing the lower court ruling if not reversed “would eviscerate the constitutional right conferred on the people of Illinois by the 1970 constitution to bypass self-interested legislators and directly propose needed reforms.” The Illinois State Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Independent Map Amendment prior to August 26th when the November ballot needs to be certified by the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In addition to those efforts undertaken by the Independent Map campaign, two constitutional amendments on the subject of redistricting were proposed in the General Assembly. HJRCA 58 is a proposal sponsored by State Representative Jack Franks and SJRCA 30 is sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul.
Representative Franks’ proposal would have created an independent redistricting commission. LWVIL and its coalition partners opposed SJRCA 30 because the proposal did not establish a redistricting commission independent from the legislature. Each of these proposals passed in the chamber in which they were initially presented but failed to be passed in the other chamber by the deadline for proposing constitutional amendments.
If it passes the court challenge, the Independent Map Amendment will be the only constitutional amendment dealing with redistricting presented to Illinois voters on the November General Election ballot.
To learn more, please contact the LWVIL Issues Committee at email@example.com.