Committed to reforms that will end political gerrymandering of legislative maps, Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) has signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of a Constitutional Amendment proposal that would allow citizens to have a primary voice in the creation of legislative maps.
HJRCA 60, filed on Tuesday, responds to issues identified as unconstitutional in the recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling against the Independent Map Coalition’s fair maps initiative. Working within the confines of the legislative article of the Constitution, HJRCA 60 offers structural and procedural changes that address the high court’s concerns. The amendment would allow a non-partisan commission as outlined in the Constitution to provide tools and data to citizens to help them create draft boundary maps that would meet Constitutional requirements. The districts would have to be compact, contiguous and substantially equal in population. They would also have to reflect minority-voting strength and promote competition.
“In a true democracy, citizens choose their lawmakers; not the other way around,” said Olsen. “The people of Illinois want a chance to vote for this type of reform, and so far they have been denied that opportunity. I believe HJRCA 60 accomplishes that goal in a way that would withstand a Constitutionality challenge.”
Specifically, HJRCA 60 would utilize the non-partisan commission as currently outlined in the statutes, but would tweak its function from actually drawing the maps to providing necessary information, data and software to citizens so that the public could create maps or improve upon previously-submitted maps. Once maps are created, the commission would rank them according to a defined rubric. The top three scored maps would then be forwarded to the House and Senate for their consideration. Legislators would not be allowed to make any changes to the maps once they reach the General Assembly and lawmakers would simply vote each proposal up or down. If no consensus is reached on a map, the Secretary of State would step in and certify the map with the highest rubric score.
“This bill gives mapmaking power to the people and takes it out of the hands of politicians,” Olsen said. “I believe this legislation responds appropriately to the issues identified by our state’s highest court, and offers a much fairer process. Most importantly, it should end partisan control of mapmaking once and for all.”
If the amendment is approved and the process is implemented, the process would apply to the redistricting effort that will take place in 2021, which affects boundaries for elections in 2022.