Local Lawmaker Looks To Change District Mapping System - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Local Lawmaker Looks To Change District Mapping System

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Every ten years, after the US Census is done, legislative districts are mapped out in Illinois. One local lawmaker is looking to change the way that is done, in hopes of giving the public more of a voice. Right now, elected officials draw the map, choosing who and where they represent. That is often called gerrymandering, with incumbents frequently drawing the lines in a way that ensures more votes for themselves. State Representative Mike Smiddy is reintroducing an initiative that would involve a panel of citizens to make those decisions. He plans to bring forth the idea into the November veto session. A similar initiative failed within the last month, when courts took it off the ballot.

"This would just be a different way of doing it here in Illinois," Representative Smiddy said.

If approved, seven screened people would decide how the map would be drawn.

"It would have two Democrats, two Republicans, and three Independents," he said.

Some Illinois residents say the idea is fair.

"I think it makes sense because different people from different backgrounds can have a voice," Angel Parker said.

"That's always a good idea when people are in charge of how the government is ran," Kortni Coffey said. "That's how it's supposed to be anyways."

Rep. Smiddy says, ideally, the panel would create the map based on population, geography and demographics, making sure local communities and government units that often work together would not be divided into multiple districts. He says that is a problem that is embedded in the current system.

"Instead of the elected officials picking who they represent, I think it should be the people picking who represents them," he said.

He says he has received some backlash from other legislators, but he believes many are ready for the change.

"Leadership down in Springfield likes the old system because they get to choose how they do things," he said. "I think it's just something that needs to be done here in Illinois."

If the legislation passes in November, the panel initiative would go on the 2016 ballot for the public to vote up or down. Those results would apply to the 2020 map.

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