A solution to change the culture in Springfield
We all love variety. From choosing what to watch on Netflix with your family or what to eat for dinner on Friday night. The power to choose is one of our greatest freedoms, but when it comes to our election process, that choice is being taken from us.
The problem is called “Gerrymandering.”
Illinois law gives our elected officials the power to draw the legislative lines that residents vote in, which gives them the power, with the use of voter data, to influence who wins and loses elections.
Gerrymandering is generally used in two ways:
1) To give one political party an advantage over another political party
2) to give an elected official an advantage over opponents from the same party or a third party.
In Illinois, gerrymandering is used to give an advantage to establishment Democrats. If you’re a progressive Democrat, independent, or third party candidate, the maps are often drawn to limit your chance of winning. Because Gerrymandering is intended to maintain power for elected officials and the majority party, the maps are often drawn in violation of the spirit/letter of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits minority votes from being improperly diluted.
This is the case in the Evanston where the votes of thousands of eligible and active black and Latino voters, who share a common interest politically, ethnically, and socioeconomically, are diluted. Instead of being able to use the power of their collective vote in one district, that power is intentionally split into three districts making it unlikely they will ever elect a candidate that shares a common interest.
Most elected officials will tell you they support redistricting reform, but after all this time why isn’t it on the ballot for a referendum? Why haven’t our elected officials prioritized the issue?
The truth is those in power don’t want redistricting reform.
The people, however, have been quite clear on wanting change. A recent poll found that 72 percent of Illinois voters want an independent commission to draw the legislative lines. Like IL voters, I want fair, competitive local elections. That’s why I strongly support requiring an independent commission to draw legislative lines and not politicians.
Read what David Greising, president of the Better Government Association said about redistricting reform:
“Redistricting reforms may be popular with the public, but the two politicians who most control the Illinois legislature — House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton — never let the referendum proposal come to a vote.
This refusal to bend to the public will is political self-preservation, period. It contributes to Illinois’ fiscal malfeasance by making incumbents all but untouchable. It scares away business investment by creating an impression that nothing will ever change. It creates cynicism because politics is corrupted at the most basic level of limiting who can run for office with a chance to win.”
The gerrymandering needs to stop. If elected, I won’t let the issue go away, and I will hold house and senate leadership publicly accountable if any effort is made to block the will of the people.