Springfield– President Barack Obama provided a major boost to the movement to enact real redistricting reform, a proposal that Republican lawmakers and the Governor have been pushing for years, said State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
During a visit to the Illinois Capitol on February 10, President Obama said that, “Once the next census rolls around and we have the most update to date picture of America's population, we should change the way our districts are drawn. American politicians should not pick their voters, voters should pick their politicians.”
“This shines a brighter spotlight on our quest to final bring a fair process to the process of drawing legislative districts,” said Sen. Barickman. “For too long Illinois has been used as an example of some of the worst gerrymandering in the nation; it’s time to finally change the process for the better.”
Congressional and state legislative districts were redrawn twice since 2000 by Democrats, based on the results of a convoluted, winner-take-all redistricting system that is the law of the Land of Lincoln.
According to a 2015 Chicago Tribune story about the 2014 election, “In House races in November, Democrats received 50.6 percent of the vote statewide and Republicans received 49.4 percent, according to a State Board of Elections analysis done for Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. But Democrats won 71 of 118 seats, or 60 percent. In more than half the districts, the maps are so rigged that only one candidate bothered to run.”
President Obama previously voiced his support for redistricting reform during his 2015 State of the Union address, saying, “We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. Let a bipartisan group do it."
Republicans filed legislation to create an independent, non-political board to oversee the redistricting process in Illinois, but House Speaker Mike Madigan and Democrat leaders have refused to even let the bill be heard in committee.
“It’s time Democrat leaders listen to their own president and finally take the politics out of drawing maps,” said Senator Barickman.