* I asked Michael Kolenc, the campaign manager for “Yes for Independent Maps” to explain to me why he thinks his coalition’s push to put a remap constitutional amendment on the ballot will survive a key constitutional test.
You can find an explanation for what the amendment actually does by clicking here. The group raised $487K in the fourth quarter (from some heavy hitters like Lester Crown, Ken and Anne Griffin, Jerry Reinsdorf, the IMA, the Chamber, etc.), spent $328K and had $202K in the bank.
* Anyway, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that citizen petitioners who want to amend the Constitution must confine themselves solely to issues that change both the structure and procedure of the General Assembly.
So, with that in mind, here’s Kolenc’s explanation…
I am very confident that it can survive a challenge. The issue we have to answer is: Does this amendment make a structural and procedural change to the state constitution?
Redistricting is clearly a legislative process–a set of actions taken by the General Assembly once every ten years. Our amendment alters that process so it is transparent and nonpartisan.
Under the current Constitution, if the General Assembly fails to enact a plan before the deadline, legislative leaders appoint a Legislative Redistricting Commission, a structure within the legislative branch. Our amendment alters that structure so that it includes independent commissioners.
From our conversations with several drafters of the 1970 IL Constitution, we know that redistricting reform was exactly the kind of amendment they had in mind when they included the “structural and procedural” clause.
Hope that answer is helpful.
It was helpful to me, and it makes sense. Your take?
*** UPDATE *** Many thanks to a commenter for pointing out perhaps the oddest argument ever on the need to reform the remap process. It’s in the Tribune, of course…
The House has 30 contested primaries; the Senate has two.
Why are there so few candidates? Because the results of the election are already cooked. Lawmakers draw their own districts, and they’re not interested in competitive elections. They’re interested in job security. They’ve gamed the legislative maps to serve their needs instead of yours.
The current boundaries were drawn by the majority party Democrats, who naturally stacked most of the districts in their favor. A handful of districts were ceded to the GOP by corralling Republican voters together. If you’re a Republican in a district drawn to elect a Democrat — or vice versa — your vote rarely matters.
In many districts, the minority party doesn’t bother to field even a token candidate. It’s expensive (and often pointless) to campaign.
How does partisan remapping impact primaries? Yes, incumbents can pick and choose what voters they represent, but that doesn’t really stop anybody in their own party from challenging them in a primary, does it?
If you want to claim that the remap process is unfair to the minority party in general elections, OK. The courts say this is fine by them, but whatever. Make your partisan case. But primaries?