Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 16, 2013

Lawmakers are choosing voters

(Continued)

“In Illinois, the public is really isn’t a consideration in the redistricting process,” said Mike Lawrence, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “The two considerations that do go into legislative redistricting, right now, are consolidation of political power and to a lesser extent protection of incumbents. Neither serves the public particularly well. That’s why I support a change.”

Instead of drawing districts with a good mix of Republicans, Democrats and independents, state politicians are deliberately drawn to favor one party – the one in control.

Democrats control the House, the Senate and governor’s office.

The maps they have been drawn disproportionately favor their political party here in the Prairie State.

Republicans aren’t any angels either.

In the states where the GOP has control, they often do the same thing.

It seems whichever party is in control, the professional politicians want to curtail the ability of voters to be heard.

A coalition called Yes for Independent Maps is pushing to have voters consider a constitutional amendment next year that would take the power to draw legislative maps away from legislators.

Instead, an independent commission would draw the boundaries of legislative districts. The commission members would be drawn from a pool of experts and selected in a manner similar to how jury members are picked.

Instead of having the Land of Lincoln drawn into a patchwork of odd-looking districts designed to boost the electoral prospects of one particular political party, the commissioners would draw compact districts and divorce themselves from partisan considerations.

It would seem a step in the right direction.

Whether it is on an athletic field, the business world or at the ballot box, competition makes for a better society.

It’s time that more lawmakers to learn to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

The only sure winners in such a scenario are the voters.

Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter and the journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute. He can be reached at sreeder@illinoispolicy.org. Readers can subscribe to his free political newsletter by going to ILNEWS.ORG or follow his work on Twitter @scottreeder.

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