Redistricting reform measures advance

Two measures, one citizen-initiated and one originating in the Illinois House, were moved forward in attempts to change the way the State draws legislative maps to elect future members of the Illinois House and Senate. Circulators of petitions for the Illinois Independent Map Amendment stated on Friday, April 29, that they had gathered the needed signatures to place their amendment on the Illinois ballot in November. 290,216 signatures were required. If the signatures and amendment are accepted by the courts, Illinois voters will face a ballot question on whether to amend the state Constitution. The amendment, if adopted, will create an independent commission to draw future district maps for Illinois legislators. The next mapmaking cycle will follow release of the numbers generated by the 2020 census.

Because the Constitution places very narrow limits on the kinds of amendments that can be originated by the people and placed on ballots by petition, litigation against the Independent Map Amendment is likely.

On Tuesday, May 3, the Illinois House approved an alternate independent map constitutional amendment, HJRCA 58. Unlike the Independent Map Amendment, HJRCA 58 was a conventional constitutional amendment originating in the General Assembly. After being approved by the House this week by a vote of 105-7-0, however, HJRCA 58 was likely killed in the Senate when it was assigned to a subcommittee. The Senate’s inaction places additional attention on the Illinois Independent Map Amendment as the one remaining pathway to get the issue of “fair maps” on the Illinois ballot this fall.