Rauner urges Assembly to put redistricting reform back on ballot
Now that the Illinois Supreme Court has kept redistricting reform, also known as "free maps," off the November ballot, Gov. Bruce Rauner said he wants the General Assembly to put it back on.
"I'm calling on all the members of the General Assembly to do the right thing, represent the people of Illinois, vote to put fair maps, redistricting reform, on the ballot so that the people of Illinois -- all of you -- can decide yourselves whether we should have maps for the elections that are not partisan, so we can have competitive general elections," Rauner said in a recent statement.
Rauner's comments came about a week after Illinois Supreme Court justices split along party lines and issued a 4-3 decision to keep redistricting reform off the November ballot, ruling that the ballot measure was unconstitutional. The Independent Map Amendment referendum would have asked voters whether the Illinois Constitution should be amended as to how House and Senate district lines are drawn.
The ballot measure was similar to the 2014 Illinois Independent Redistricting Amendment, known as "Yes for Independent Maps," which was itself an effort that didn't reach that year's November ballot after a Cook County judge likewise ruled it unconstitutional.
A few days after the decision, Rauner took to the air waves on Chicago's Morning Answer, a local radio show, and urged Illinois voters to demand redistricting reform and term limits.
"Our system is rigged; it's broken," Rauner said during the show. "We have gerrymandered districts. Many of them are shaped like spaghetti noodles, designed to lock in incumbents, to put all Democrats in some districts, all Republicans in others, so there's no competition, there's no choice, there's no alternative ideas debated in these races, and the people of Illinois don't have a real voice or a real choice. Democracy doesn't work on that basis."
During his more recent comments, Rauner referred to a visit to Illinois Feb. 10 by President Barack Obama, a former state senator, when the president addressed the General Assembly and said the time had come for redistricting reform.
"This tends to be popular in states where Democrats have been drawing the lines among Republicans, and less popular among Republicans where they control drawing the lines," Obama said in his remarks that day. "So let’s be very clear here -- nobody has got clean hands on this thing."
The problems with gerrymandering are something the nation has the power to fix, Obama said.
"Once the next Census rolls around, and we have the most up-to-date picture of America’s population, we should change the way our districts are drawn," Obama said. "In America, politicians should not pick their voters; voters should pick their politicians."
That support helps confirm that there is bipartisan support for redistricting reform in Illinois, Rauner said.
"Even President Obama supports fair maps," Rauner said. "He came to Illinois to say we should have redistricting reform. Democrats want it. Republicans want it. The General Assembly should put it on the ballot. Same thing with term limits."