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Question of the day

Monday, Jun 19, 2017

* I have a scheduled, routine doctor’s appointment this afternoon, so blogging may be light for a while.

* From NPR

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up an appeal over electoral districts in Wisconsin after a lower court ruled that the state’s Republican-drawn map constitutes an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.”

It’s the first time in more than a decade that the nation’s highest court will take up the issue of partisan gerrymandering, or drawing voting districts with the aim of strengthening one political party.

And it gives the court an opportunity to formally determine a metric on what constitutes unlawful gerrymandering, which could have major implications for the way voting districts are drawn in other states.

The Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of race and congressional district-drawing, most recently last month when it rejected two North Carolina districts, as The Two-Way reported.

But the court has not ruled on “purely partisan gerrymanders” since 2004, as NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported:

    “In 2004, a four-member Supreme Court plurality all but ruled out challenges to even extreme partisan gerrymanders, while four members of the court would have allowed some limited challenges. Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the fifth and deciding vote, declaring that he might someday embrace a challenge to a partisan gerrymander if someone could come up with workable standards.”

* The Question: Should Illinois abandon partisan legislative district maps? Click here to take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments »
  1. - Ahoy! - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    Yes of course, as should every state. Legislative districts should not be drawn to help a party manipulate elections.


  2. - Bogey Golfer - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    No-brainer.


  3. - Oneman - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    Yes,
    Just seems contrary to the very idea of districts. Along with the drawing of those little fingers to get the incumbent into their pre-remap district.


  4. - Abe - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    Yes - while not a “cure all” - anything we can do to make our democracy more representative and responsive to voters is a good thing.


  5. - A Little Silhoute-O Of A Man - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    I voted Yes. I am as Democratic as they come but I don’t believe partisan gerrymandering is in the interest of our democracy. I can’t say that Texas and Wisconsin shouldn’t gerrymander on party lines if I don’t also say that Illinois should not either.


  6. - sick of it - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:22 pm:

    Yeah. We all agree except the guy who won his first term in Nixons first term and is unwilling to give the current guv a victory on a no brainer like this just because. Speaking of that—don’t see much of the King these days> Where is he????


  7. - OldIllini - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:25 pm:

    Nobody likes a rigged election.


  8. - Sad in DuPage - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    The hyper-partisan nature of our government is contributing to its downfall. We should use electronic mapping to create legislative districts that are compact, contiguous and ‘look like America’ or at least the state.


  9. - G'Kar - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    I voted no as I don’t want to see Illinois do this unilaterally. I would vote yes if ALL states had to develop a non-partisan approach.


  10. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Yes, but https://i.imgur.com/2N9c6dT.jpg

    – MrJM


  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    ===We all agree except…===

    I have yet to see it poll 100%.

    Unless you have a mouse in your pocket and speaking for the mouse too…

    If you are a constituent of the 22nd District, your beef is warranted. Madigan shows up to work, I’m guessing. Just because Madigan isn’t wearing phony costumes and pretending doesn’t mean he’s hiding.

    To the Post,

    Of all the “reforms”, fair maps is the one I can get behind and support.

    Odd, isn’t it, that millions can be spent to tout Fair Maps and spending ALL those millions, no competent attorney can write an amendment that will pass muster. Hmm. It’s odd.

    You’d think if a group wanted fair maps to be legal they’d spend more on the preparation and writing of the amendment, with competent lawyers. It’s just curiously odd, lol


  12. - Sox Fan - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    ==I voted no as I don’t want to see Illinois do this unilaterally. I would vote yes if ALL states had to develop a non-partisan approach.==

    Agree. At this point, Illinois shouldn’t do anything until it is agreed upon by all states in order to make the playing field somewhat even.


  13. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    The Brennan Center has lots of good material on this topic. http://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/scotus-set-hear-first-partisan-gerrymandering-case-decade

    Of note, Wisconsin’s mapmakers did far better for their party than Madigan did - in 2012 Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly despite winning only 48.6% of the two-party state-wide vote


  14. - CLJ - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    As a Democrat I voted yes. Not only are competitive district good for public policy but they are especially good for the people who run/work on campaigns. Look at how much money is being spent on races these days. Job creator.


  15. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    Of course we should do this. The idea of creating tailored districts is an attack on the very idea of representative government. It is segregation at the most basic level. We all have the same needs, regardless of our color, ethnicity, gender or age. If you don’t believe that then you should just advocate for each special interest group to have their own representative.


  16. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:46 pm:

    No. This is war, so disarmament must be multi-lateral. ALL states should draw districts in a nonpartisan way, otherwise the war continues.


  17. - ZC - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    I voted “no” because until we have a working definition of what a “partisan legislative district” is or isn’t, I have no confidence that the replacement districts will be in truth any less partisan.

    As discussed on this blog before, if “non-partisan” simply means “square or rectangular” than you could draw some very new partisan districts in IL, in effect packing Democrats into fewer, hyper-Democratic (but very square!) seats around Chicago and Cook.

    Even then I’m not sure the results would make Republicans that much happier. The biggest problem for the GOP is IL has a lot more Latinos and Hispanics in it than the Midwestern average, and while exceptions exist, the bulk of these voters are alienated from the Republican party (and getting moreso under Trump, I suspect).


  18. - RNUG - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    == The idea of creating tailored districts is an attack on the very idea of representative government. ==

    And, yet, SCOTUS has allowed the creation of districts specifically to assure certain ethnic or racial groups can elect one of “their own”. That brings up the question of when is it justified and when is it not?


  19. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:56 pm:

    we shall see.

    but to your errand, hoping the routine is routine. you know we worry about you!!!!


  20. - Flapdoodle - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    Districts should be based on population as much as possible — this was, after all, the “original intent”– but designed to foster genuine electoral competition. Systems analysts can design algorithms to do the job. Without genuine competition, there will be no incentive to listen to all sides and perhaps find some grounds for cooperation. As long as so many districts are safe, our politics will stagnate in partisan rancor with everything being said and nothing done.


  21. - EVanstonian - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:05 pm:

    Yes, and while we’re at it we should expand the US House so that the rep to constituent ratio is more equal across the country.

    The size difference in these districts comes from our need to only have 435 House members. Count off every 175k-250k people, base the number of Reps in the House on that.


  22. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    Combining the gerrymandering with GPS, voter databases and other modern technologies, and we end up with legislators selecting VOTERS, not the other way around. Legislors are currently dividing united communities.

    Legislate that districts cannot have more than 5 non-naturally derived boundaries.


  23. - ILGOV2018 - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    Because it makes sense. But in Illinois, it will never happen because both parties just want to punish each other.


  24. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:40 pm:

    The poll should be “Should Illinois voters be allowed to vote to eliminate partisan maps?” The Illinois Supreme Court refuses to say, revealing that it wasn’t honestly evaluating the constitutionality of the map petitions when it repeatedly refused to consider the constitutionality of ANY redistricting petition, even though 1) the attackers asked them to, 2) the petitioners asked them to, 3) they had multiple opportunities to do so and 4) by not doing so, they forced citizens and paid advocates alike to spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours just to find out.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise must also believe that the equal protection minimalists on the U.S. Supreme Court who elected George W. Bush on an ultra-expansive equal protection basis, footnoting their opinion to say that it should never be used as precedence in the future, weren’t acting on a partisan basis either.

    Anyway, answered the poll “yes.”


  25. - Johnny Tractor - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:50 pm:

    Yes - it will decrease pressure to impose term limits, which I regard as a solution that’s worse than the problem. One caveat: there can’t be onerous, solely-to-protect incumbent hurdles to getting on the ballot. Same rules should apply to current and prospective office holders.


  26. - Huh? - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    No. In these hyper-partisan political times, the maps are all that prevent somebody like 1.4% from imposing his draconian agenda.


  27. - Veil of Ignorance - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Yes, but IL should also work to get other Midwestern states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio (now has bipartisan commission for state lines) to follow suit.


  28. - Johnny Tractor - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    Hey, Willy, I’ve wondered the same thing - you’d think that any competent attorney could take the guidelines that IL Supreme Court’s provided about how to draft a constitutional amendment redistributing petition, and put something together that would survive if the voters approved it. I think it means that we need more/better lawyers in Illinois … /s


  29. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    =the maps are all that prevent somebody like 1.4% from imposing his draconian agenda=

    That’s only true if most voters agree with the draconian agenda.


  30. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===The poll should be===

    Get your own blog.


  31. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    Voted no. Would rather see gerrymandering on partisan grounds than on race. Partisans can be converted, race is fixed.

    I would like us to go to three person districts in House and Senate with cumulative voting as we had for the House before the Cutback Amendment. The Citizens Initiative would go to 90 Reps and 45 Senators, or the GA could have 120 Reps and 60 Senators if they add open primaries where the top 5 finishers go on to the General election.

    Use Quinn’s language for the Citizens Initiative, tweaked to change the technical outcome. That should pass constitutional muster, since it passed before. Just don’t get fancy.


  32. - Huh? - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    “That’s only true if most voters agree with the draconian agenda.”

    And who did the majority of voters elect? I’ll wait for your answer.


  33. - A Little Silhoute-O Of A Man - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 4:14 pm:

    A couple of people above have asked how we determine what a non-partisan drawn map would look like. I would say lets do it how Iowa or California do it. We have the map drawn to make geographic sense and keep municipalities and counties together as much as possible. I think this will hurt Democrats more than Republicans, but it is the right thing to do.


  34. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    Rich - understood - didn’t mean that literaly. Bad way for me to try to make the point that in Illinois we aren’t only denied fair districts, our power to get them is far less than other states (California, Arizona, etc.)


  35. - Try-4-Truth - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 4:29 pm:

    Why should Democratic Illinois tie one hand behind our back? Not until say Texas does it or another state. Not until then.


  36. - JimO - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 4:34 pm:

    NO! Illinois maps are not partisan drawn. In IL about 60% of votes and registrations are DEMs. That is nearly the same ratio as members of GA! The WI problem was that while registrations and votes where 40% DEM there were on 10% DEMs in legislature.
    Yes, District boundaries in IL make for safe districts. But skewing does not change the ratio party member elected and party of registered voters.


  37. - Bigtwich - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 4:44 pm:

    In the Wisconsin case “The plaintiffs argued that a 7 percent bias should be considered unconstitutional.” A Washington Post story on the case cites a review of 38 state legislature district maps and finds 15 of these maps show partisan bias. Illinois is not one of those. In fact Illinois is listed as showing insignificant bias.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/23/wisconsins-gerrymander-being-struck-down-should-scare-republicans-nationwide/?utm_term=.8b6e8157e371


  38. - Belle - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 5:12 pm:

    Yes.
    Like many things in the US, it’s over-used and an overdose.


  39. - TKMH - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 5:22 pm:

    Illinois should stop when MI or PA stops. As a Dem, I’d be fine with a 1 for 1 trade with a comparatively sized red state in order to make districts more competitive.


  40. - peon - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 6:03 pm:

    Voted yes. It’s undemocratic, polarizing, and can be done now with electronic tools the founders never anticipated.


  41. - Roman - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 8:43 pm:

    Adding to - bigtwich -

    Mark Brown has a story posted on this. Illinois’ bias is between 0 and 5 percent, so it would not meet unconstitutional standard (7 percent) developed by the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case.

    http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/illinois-gerrymandering-doesnt-measure-up-to-wisconsin/


  42. - will - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 11:16 pm:

    Not until Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and every other Republican state do the same. Wisconsin is a particularly egregious case.

    Illinois unilaterally disarming in this fashion will just empower conservatives. If the GOP ever gain power in this state as a result of gerrymander reform, watch the map get diddled far worse then it’s even been under Madigan.


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