Examining the Case for Redistricting Reform
The principals in an ongoing battle about how Illinois should draw its political boundaries squared off in a lively 90-minute panel discussion hosted by the Better Government Association on Dec. 3rd at DePaul University’s downtown Chicago campus.
The BGA idea forum, titled “Who Should Draw Illinois’ Political Map? Examining the Case for Redistricting Reform,” provided assessments of the state’s current redistricting process, where state lawmakers themselves draw legislative district boundaries, and a proposed constitutional amendment, offered by the group Independent Maps, that would turn that function over to an independent commission.
Cindi Canary, executive director of Independent Maps, and Lori Lightfoot, a partner with the law firm Mayer Brown, which represents Independent Maps, argued that there’s an inherent conflict of interest to have politicians draw the boundaries for their own districts. They said an independent commission would draw boundaries that better reflect actual communities rather than to protect incumbents or partisan interests.
Mike Kasper, general counsel and treasurer for the Democratic Party of Illinois, argued to maintain the status quo. He said lawmakers are accountable to the voters, but an independent commission is accountable to no one. John T. Hooker, chairman of People’s Map, a group opposing Independent Maps, argued that an independent commission could have unintended consequences of diminishing the representation of racial minority groups.
At times, the idea forum featured passionate outbursts and animated dialogue for which the redistricting reform issue has become known.
Senior Adviser, Committee for Economic Development
Executive Director, Independent Maps
John T. Hooker
Chairman, People's Map
General Counsel and Treasurer, Democratic Party of Illinois
Partner, Mayer Brown
Alden Loury, Senior Policy Analyst, BGA