House Republicans, Governor Continue Call For Bipartisan Maps

U.S. voters vote for legislators – members of Congress and state legislators – who represent “districts” that are drawn on maps to contain equal numbers of people counted by census. At the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, maps were drawn by hand. It was presumed that legislative districts would be compact or follow the boundary-lines of existing communities, or both.

In recent years, however, the invention of demographic software has made it possible for computers to draw maps that ruthlessly cross existing lines, sprawl across many different jurisdictions and virtually certain to elect politicians from one political party. Here in Illinois, two “Democratic maps” drawn in 2001 and redrawn in 2011 have led to fourteen straight years of uninterrupted control by the Chicago-based political party over both chambers of the state legislature in Springfield.

In November 2014, a strong margin of voters elected Republican Bruce Rauner to be Governor of Illinois, yet because of politically-drawn legislative maps, Democrats retained veto-proof supermajorities in both the Illinois House and Senate.

Other U.S. states have removed politics from the all-important job of mapmaking. HJRCA 40, a House Republican measure introduced on May 22, creates an Independent Redistricting Commission made up of members of both major political parties to draw the maps. The constitutional amendment provides a nonpartisan process to break a tie and draw the map if the two parties cannot agree.

Governor Bruce Rauner has stated his strong support for HJRCA 40, and has called for the House and Senate to consider the measure. House Republicans see redistricting reform as one aspect of reforms needed to enact a balanced budget and move beyond the failed policies of former Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn under Democrat-controlled legislative maps. Redistricting reform as supported by Governor Rauner and House Republicans would succeed in taking politics out of the drawing of legislative maps.