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We need something better

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008

* This is yet another good reason to hold a constitutional convention. The completely bungled legislative redistricting language in the current document…

The framers of the 1970 Illinois Constitution thought they had devised a way to force bipartisanship on the contentious issue of redrawing legislative district maps every 10 years. If the governor and General Assembly couldn’t agree on a map, the job would fall to an eight-member commission of four Democrats and four Republicans.

Except it never worked out that way. In the 1981, 1991 and 2001 remap efforts, both parties decided to play “chicken” instead of working out a deal. They allowed a drawing to determine which side would draw the maps.

* As the editorial notes, there is a constitutional amendment in the hopper right now to address this issue…

The amendment, sponsored by James Brosnahan, D-Evergreen Park, would do away with the lottery as a tiebreaker. If the legislature is unable to reach a compromise, the job would go to a special master or masters appointed by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice from the other political party.

But why allow the incuments to draw their maps in the first place? Even if this does encourage bipartisan compromise, that means even more incumbent protections. The maps should be drawn by computer, like Iowa does, and we wouldn’t have goofy-looking districts intended to keep people in power.

Look at Iowa’s maps. Now, look at Illinois‘.

* More Con-Con stuff…

* Con Con Considerations: Party Affiliation

* Income tax vote expected

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - What planet is he from again? - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 9:52 am:

    The computer idea sure sounds good, although knowing this state, they’d argue about whether Reps or Dems wrote the software or ran the computer.


  2. - Levois - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 9:56 am:

    What is it with this obsession of bipartisanship only between Democrats and Republicans? Granted that there are only two parties at the table in this state at this moment since there aren’t too many independents in thie GA. Still if there is to be a constitutional rewrite perhaps we need to drop this idea of only including Republicans and Democrats in this process. I know easier said than done.


  3. - South Side Mike - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:11 am:

    I always thought the same thing for the City of Chicago wards, too. The spoils of election should not include the ability to protect your own job. Program the computers so they don’t give a darn about race, party affiliation, age, etc., and have them spit out 3 or 4 versions. Allow legislators only enough leeway to choose among the 3 or 4 versions.

    So let’s review, a computer program is simpler, faster, probably cheaper, and produces more competitive races than the current model. That pretty much guarantees that it will never pass in Illinois.


  4. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:28 am:

    Our constitution worked for more then 30 years and as recently as the 90’s very well. It even worked with some very unsavory characters in Springfield. The problem isn’t the law, its the politicians. When you screw up, you lose your job. Only in IL could we let someone screw up this bad, then think about giving them authority to change the rules.


  5. - Old lawyer - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    And please don’t forget merit selection of judges, which was passed by the last Constitutional Convention as a separate proposal, but rejected by the voters. (It passed Cook County, but lost downstate, I think.) Appointing judges from a group picked by a panel wouldn’t eliminate all politics, but it has helped remove the bottom of the barrel in other states.


  6. - Levois - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 10:45 am:

    Hey how about the Missouri plan for judges?


  7. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    Oh right, let the slimy pols we all love to critique choose our judges? I don’t think that’s a great idea. The current system of electing them is not perfect, but I would argue it is no worse than we would get with “merit” selection. Plus, the really egregious ones do tend to get tossed off during their retention election.


  8. - Amuzing Myself - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:09 am:

    Wow. Look at that Iowa map. Actually compact and contiguous. What a concept!


  9. - Metro East News Guy - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:19 am:

    Does anyone in the Statehouse have a dictionary to define compact and contiguous? Bill Haine was state’s attorney in Madison county when the county map was redrawn by Dems…later struck down by a Dem judge. (But strangely he was unopposed for Evelyn Bowles seat..hmmm)
    One of the county board members summed up what all politicians think: he said, ‘my only priority is to make sure I get re-elected.’
    How can the Supreme Court justify Illinois’ congressional map as COMPACT and CONTIGUOUS… while it may meet the strict definition, ask any Con-Con delegate if this is what they had in mind.


  10. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:19 am:

    Gerrymandering in the 21st Century is allowing politicians to choose voters instead of allowing voters to choose politicians.

    It is blantantly undemocratic and morally wrong. It should be outlawed. Just as we saw electoral changes occur due to Supreme Court decisions, we need to have the Court outlaw gerrymandering.

    Politicians + computers = congressional fiefdoms + congressional gridlock.


  11. - Enemy of the State - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:30 am:

    I agree with the Patriot. It will not matter how the rules are rewritten if the players are the same. It is almost incomprehensible that it is easier to write a new constituition than it is to amend the current document.


  12. - Abe - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    The computerized map seems like a great idea.
    A lot might be done if we just agreed not to break up precincts and respect Township and County boundaries.
    Now that all three branches are controlled by one party you cannot expect any positive change though. (It would be the same if all three were Republican instead of Democrat.)
    This state needs a real statesmen. I haven’t seen one win office in a long time.


  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 11:54 am:

    The Iowa model would do more to reinvigorate the political process with real competition for the GA than anything else out there.

    Would that fly for a Congressional map? I don’t think Iowa has a Supreme Court “superdistrict” issue for minority representation as does Illinois.


  14. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 12:04 pm:

    If the framers were attempting to force BIpartisanship, they were being undemocratic. BIpartisanship precludes MULTIpartisanship. There are THREE legally established, major political parties in the State of Illinois. Even better would be a NONpartisan redistricting.

    “If the governor and General Assembly couldn’t agree on a map, the job would fall to an eight-member commission of four Democrats and four Republicans.”

    I would call that a due process violation. What right does the state have in assigning this special privilege to two specifically named political parties, rather than ALL political parties within a certain class? If it is going to be political parties that control the redistricting process, then at the very least, all established parties should be involved in that.

    “If the legislature is unable to reach a compromise, the job would go to a special master or masters appointed by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice from the other political party.”

    The OTHER political party? What in the world does that mean? The Green Party? As I wrote previously, there are THREE legally established, major political parties in the State of Illinois.


  15. - Long-time Lurker - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 12:39 pm:

    Has anyone used a computer program like Iowa’s to map out Illinois? Just curious to see how it would compare to the actual map we’re currently using.


  16. - Amuzing Myself - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 1:19 pm:

    I think term limits on the the “four tops” (not service in the GA generally) would do more to get the people back involved in their state government than anything else. Getting a reasonable map should certainly be easier after a decade or two of fresh leadership and regular turnover. JMHO.


  17. - TrailRunner - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 5:52 pm:

    The war on the Middle Class continues. Hopefully the income tax bill will fail. Three percent for everyone seems fair to me. Some property tax relief would be nice also…but I fear the only way to get that is going to be to move to another state. Blago and Co. keep finding more ways to shake us down instead of looking for ways to live within our means.


  18. - Snidely Whiplash - Tuesday, Apr 29, 08 @ 7:26 pm:

    Agreed. We really do need to stop gerrymandering to protect incumbents. Southwest side Chicago wards moves ever-westward. County Board districts are just plain laughable. State house & senate districts, as well. But, why stop at the legislative level?


  19. Pingback Partisan Discourse » Five random thoughts - Wednesday, Apr 30, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    […] Another hat tip to Rich, for a comparison of Illinois and Iowa’s legislative maps and an interesting discussion on redistricting. Amazing how much better computers can draw than legislators. […]


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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