Friday, April 08, 2011

Mapmakers as Kingmakers?

Today's State Journal-Register joins a growing chorus of voices calling for complete transparency in the drawing of new legislative and congressional district maps.

The legislative remap road show stopped in Springfield this week, giving the handful of citizens who showed up the chance to voice their concerns about how lawmakers carve up the state to define Illinois House and Senate districts.

…Unfortunately, it appears the participatory part of the process may end with these hearings.
As things stand now, there is no provision for holding additional public hearings once drafts of the new legislative districts have been drawn. That means the witnesses who testified at these hearings won’t get a chance to see if their advice has been taken until after the new map becomes law.

Earlier in the week, the Bloomington Pantagraph pushed Illinoisans to get involveld in the remap process and even try their own hand at mapmaking:

We hope many try their hand at drawing new maps.
A kindergartener could draw a better map than some we’ve seen.
In fact, some have looked like they were drawn by a 5-year-old. Too much emphasis has been placed on protecting incumbents’ districts rather than objectively drawing district boundaries.
Attempts to reform the state’s redistricting process failed last year. So we’re stuck with what we have.
The fact that one party — in this case, the Democrats — has control of the House, Senate and governor’s office doesn’t bode well for an objective, open process.
But cynicism shouldn’t prevent the general public and Republicans from working for a fair map.

And the Peoria Journal Star expressed concern about how mapmakers can be tempted to see themselves as kingmakers:

To be sure, both sides have always tried to draw maps that would be most advantageous to their candidates, with fairness and the best interests of citizens in terms of getting decent choices at the ballot box distant considerations. It's about them and about protecting their majorities, not about you. But now the Dems can pretty much impose whatever map they want to with even less debate than usual. This will be a real test of Gov. Pat Quinn the reformer. The end result will tell Illinoisans quite a bit about him.

Hearings are being held around the state now, and lawmakers will vote in Springfield on the final map. Now is your one chance this decade to speak out on this process.

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