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A big step forward, but peril ahead

Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014

* From the twitters…


* But Mark Brown reports that some groups representing minorities are not happy with the Yes for Independent Maps proposal

Jorge Sanchez, a senior litigator for MALDEF, said he is concerned the complicated system for picking the 11-member commission that will draw the map “creates very little opportunity for communities of color to have representation.” […]

Notably, Sylvia Puente of The Latino Policy Forum, which usually sides with MALDEF on redistricting matters, is endorsing the constitutional amendment. […]

But Shari Runner, a senior vice president at Chicago Urban League, which has played an important role over the years in protecting the rights of African-American voters in redistricting, also withheld support.

“While we have not endorsed the independent maps amendment, we are open to engaging in dialogue about redistricting,” the group said in a statement later. “That said, we believe that any proposal on redistricting reform must include protection of minority voters and minority representation. In its present form, we do not see any language in the proposed plan that addresses this concern.” […]

Michael Kolenc, campaign manager for Yes! For Independent Maps, argued the amendment contains specific language to prevent the commission from drawing legislative boundaries to “dilute or diminish the ability of a racial or language minority community to elect the candidates of its choice.” It also would require legislative leaders to use their four commission appointees to make sure it “reflects the geographic and demographic diversity of the state.”

Thoughts?

…Adding… From Michael Kolenc…

No one came out against this measure yesterday at the ICPR forum. It was a very academic discussion. Further, MALDEF was part of the two-year process that drafted this amendment.

This is the criteria set forth in the amendment. We feel that this criteria, and the 100% transparency involved, will protect minority communities. We have lots of organizations in our coalition that are part of this effort for that very reason.

From the text of the amendment, that will be in the State Constitution if approved:

    Contiguous, substantially equal in population, and in compliance with federal laws
    Not drawn to dilute or diminish the ability of a racial or language minority community to elect the candidates of its choice
    Respecting the geographic integrity of cities, towns, and other units of local government
    Respecting the geographic integrity of communities sharing common social and economic interests
    Not drawn to purposefully or significantly discriminate against or favor any political party or group, and not considering the residence of any person

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    There is independent and then there is independent. I prefer my independent to your independent. :)


  2. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    Why are millionaires and billionaires dropping money in a Dem state to switch to “non-partisan” maps?

    Why not states where GOP controls redistricting?


  3. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    The proof that changing the redistricting process will affect much of anything is thin.

    A bunch of reformers have this fantasy that moderate Republicans are going to be their White knights.

    On matters of economic justice, “moderate” Republicans are consistently useless.


  4. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    I’m for it. Well-intentioned racial gerrymandering is how we started down the slippery slope to the mess we have now. The present system is bad for everybody, and for the state. If there are reasonable protections, which there seem to be, then let’s do something different.


  5. - fed up - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    competitive races will hold Senators and House members accountable to voters not just leadership.


  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    ===Well-intentioned racial gerrymandering is how we started down the slippery slope to the mess we have now.===

    That silly comment says more about you than you may realize.

    Learn a bit of history. Political gerrymandering was around eons before racial minimums were instituted.


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    The term “gerrymandering” originated with a partisan Massachusetts electoral map signed off on by Gov. Gerry in 1812.


  8. - Come on man! - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    So who appoints the 11? This isn’t snark but a legit question.


  9. - John A Logan - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Nearly anything would be better then the process for drawing maps that is currently in place.


  10. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Why are millionaires and billionaires dropping money in a Dem state to switch to “non-partisan” maps?

    Why not states where GOP controls redistricting?

    So therefore it is bad….


  11. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    Carl has a good point. Seems kind of silly to unilaterally disarm. I don’t see Texas going to independent maps any time soon. That said I don’t like gerrymandering at all, I just don’t want to see all of the blue states even the playing field while the red states do nothing.


  12. - demguy84 - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    Here is the full text of the amendment and below - http://independentmaps.org/amendment and here is a summary of the selection process.

    Commission members would be selected through the following 5-step process:

    Application—Any interested Illinois citizen can apply to be a member of the Commission.

    Qualification—A nonpartisan Applicant Review Panel, appointed by the Auditor General, eliminates applicants who have conflicts of interest, such as lobbyists and public officials. The Panel selects the 100 most qualified applicants on the basis of analytical skills, impartiality, fairness, and diversity.

    Removal—In a process similar to jury selection, the four top legislative leaders may each “strike” up to five applicants from the applicant pool.

    Selection—Commissioners are selected by lottery to create a group of two Democrats, two Republicans, and three unaffiliated with either party, all proportionally representing Illinois’ five judicial districts.

    Appointment—The four top legislative leaders each appoint one commissioner from the remaining pool, to ensure that the Commission reflects Illinois’s diverse demographics and geography.

    If the Commission fails to approve a plan, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a senior Justice from the other major party would select a Special Commissioner for Redistricting to draw a final map. The Special Commissioner would be required to follow the same criteria established for the Commission. The Special Commissioner’s maps would become law before the next election.


  13. - Frank - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    -OneMan- Good question. Another one: why is the Congressional mapping process not included in this process?

    I guess there’s no problem with partisanship in Washington.


  14. - demguy84 - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    In order for the amendment to be constitutional it can only make one change at a time. So the amendment can only do state or federal but not both


  15. - Come on man! - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Ok sorry I was too lazy to actively look for that info, but TO ASSUME that independent means equal in proportion is preposterous.


  16. - Frank - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    @demguy84 wrote an amendment can “only make one change at a time.”

    Was that “one change” rule set by a court decision, cuz I don’t see that language in the Constitution.

    And if what your saying is true, the authors and backers of “Fair Map” amendment must think Rauner’s term limit amendment is illegal because it seeks to make two changes at a time: modify the size of the GA and set limits on length of service.


  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    ===So the amendment can only do state or federal but not both ===

    Um, no. Read the constitution again.

    They can’t do federal because a popular amendment has to deal with a very narrow “structural and procedural subjects” under the Legislative article.


  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    Great. We are moving the gerrymandering to the Commission process.

    Why, in a state that the Republican nominee for President has not won in 30 years, should the Republican Party and the Democratic Party be given equal representation in drawing the map?


  19. - Goonhammer - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    =- Come on man! - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    So who appoints the 11? This isn’t snark but a legit question.=

    “Commissioners are selected by lottery to create a group of two Democrats, two Republicans, and three unaffiliated with either party, all proportionally representing Illinois’ five judicial districts.”


  20. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    At least Carl is honest with his rank politics over “one man, one vote” principles.

    The concerns of minorities here are groundless. First, if the GOP ever comes to power, they’re going to be damaged by gerrymandering a heck of a lot more than by any non-gerrymandered map. Second, we have California as an example of a multicultural state that got rid of gerrymandering. Third and most importantly, the critics are confusing quotas with political power. Take the 4th Congressional district (I know, it’s not affected by this referrendum, but it makes for a good example): if you were to split the two Hispanic population areas the district is contorted to capture and place them in separate districts, you may not get a Hispanic representative in either (though you very well might get two). But the Hispanic legistive agenda would have tremendous power in both districts. And minorities would arguably benefit from the decrease in polarization that comes when districts are drawn fairly and fewer of them are “safe” for whoever comes out of the dominating party’s primary.


  21. - Ray del Camino - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    They can’t do fed term limits because the qualifications for members of the House of Representatives are set by the US Constitution, and it would take a Constitutional amendment to change them.

    By the way, the Voting Rights Act is there to protect the rights of minorities to elect representatives of their choice. A map wouldn’t get past the courts if it violated the VAR. No excuse for MALDEF, NAACP to withhold support.


  22. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    Maybe dumb questions, but the Independent Map process would be required to follow the national Voting Rights Act correct?

    If so, does MALDEF believe the Voting Rights Act is insufficient at protecting minority representation during the redistricting process? If so, what are the specific reasons for this and how can we address them on a national level?

    (I don’t expect that question to get an answer)


  23. - Norseman - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    Ray del Camino, I’m sorry but you’re wrong. See Rich’s comment above. Congressional remapping is a state process, although the Federal courts have become involved because of challenges to the impact of the map proposals on minorities.


  24. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Wouldn’t you want a computer doing the job if you wanted it to be truly independent?


  25. - CollegeStudent - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    ===Maybe dumb questions, but the Independent Map process would be required to follow the national Voting Rights Act correct?

    If so, does MALDEF believe the Voting Rights Act is insufficient at protecting minority representation during the redistricting process? If so, what are the specific reasons for this and how can we address them on a national level?

    (I don’t expect that question to get an answer) ===

    Probably because they don’t trust the Supremes to protect their interests and the VRA after last summer’s ruling in Shelby County v Holder


  26. - Ray del Camino - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    Sorry, Norseman. I had term limits on my brain at the moment. Apologies.


  27. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Apr 1, 14 @ 7:56 pm:

    How much sillier can artistically drawn can our cd’s get?


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