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Editorial: Effort to change Illinois’ political map-making process must continue

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Office/environmental portrait of Dennis FitzSimons. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Office/environmental portrait of Dennis FitzSimons. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

MCT

MCT

Office/environmental portrait of Dennis FitzSimons. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

By Rockford Register Star, Ill.

It would have been a small miracle for the Illinois Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to deny voters a say in the way Illinois draws its political maps.

There was no such miracle today as the court refused to reconsider its decision.

“We asked that, at a minimum, the court give voters guidance about what the majority believes is permissible in a citizen-initiated amendment to reform redistricting through a fair and impartial commission,” said Dennis FitzSimons, chairman of the Independent Maps group that fought to put a question on the November ballot to change the map-making process. “Today, without comment, the court refused.

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“Our coalition remains committed to reform and believes an independent redistricting commission would be one important step in changing state government and making the legislature more responsive to the voters of this state. Whether that is possible through a citizen-initiated amendment is now an open question to be discussed by supporters throughout the state.”

The court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled in August that the Independent Maps Amendment didn’t meet constitutional requirements. That decision and today’s decision not to reconsider further disenfranchises Illinois residents who have a desire to change the way their government works.

Because the court would not provide guidance, Illinoisans are left to wonder what would pass constitutional muster. Fairly drawn maps increase competition and improve the democratic process, a concept that seems lost on the four Democratic judges who ruled against the amendment last month.

Three Republican justices, led by Robert Thomas, dissented. Fair political maps should not fall victim to rank partisanship, but it looks like it did in this case.

“Now that the courts have denied Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum in November for the last time, it is up to the General Assembly to address political reform — term limits and independent redistricting — as soon as they reconvene this fall,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

That’s a nice thought, Governor, but a legislature controlled by Democrats is not likely to reform the system that ensures them their cushy jobs.

This was the third attempt to change Illinois’ redistricting process. Supporters are discouraged, but should not lose hope.

It took California six tries before it passed its fairer redistricting system. Persistence pays off.

We look forward to the next campaign from Independent Maps.

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(c) 2016 Rockford Register Star, Ill.

Visit Rockford Register Star, Ill. at www.rrstar.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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