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Our view: All talk, no action; politicians fail to put end to gerrymandering

By the Editorial Board
Posted on 5/9/2018, 1:00 AM

Here's what's likely to happen regarding fair elections in Illinois unless the people get angry enough to stop it:

If the polls hold true, Democrat J.B. Pritzker will be elected governor in November. Democrats will continue to control both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, and after the 2020 midterms, they will draw another set of gerrymandered legislative and Congressional maps designed to solidify the party's power.

Because of a population exodus, Illinois will lose one, maybe two congressional seats. The new maps will ensure those lost seats were Republican.

If you're a Democrat or lean that way, you might think, well, there are worse things that can happen. But this isn't a partisan matter. In some red states, the exact opposite happens: Republicans hold enough power to gerrymander maps for GOP interests. It is wrong no matter which party is drawing the maps.

This isn't a question of which party controls the levers of government; it's whether the politicians or the people do. It is the single interest that supersedes all others -- the protection of our democracy.

This is our future, unless the people speak out; unless our legislators display courage, independence and integrity; and unless Pritzker, if he's elected, puts people above party.

Like Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Pritzker has vowed to veto any gerrymandered maps if he wins. As a candidate last January, Pritzker told the Sun-Times, "We need independent maps. I believe we want more competitive elections across Illinois. Right now people feel like they walk into the voting booth and because of the way their district has been gerrymandered they really only have one choice."

It is up to all of us to require not only that he keep the veto pledge, but that he show real leadership in the push for a fair map referendum before the election. He did not provide that leadership this spring.

All of this is fundamental. We the people ought to elect our representatives, but the way it works now, the politicians elect them by the way they draw the maps.

There was a lot of talk this spring about finally changing all that. Sponsor after sponsor signed on to Fair Maps legislation that would put a referendum on the November ballot to amend the state constitution.

The deadline to get it on the ballot was Monday. Guess what? Nothing happened. All these sponsors and co-sponsors signed on, but the legislation never got called for a vote.

In the Senate, there were enough sponsors to adopt the legislation. But it never got called. These sponsors? If they're so real, why aren't they gathering together to force Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to bring their legislation to the floor? All show, no results. A lot of talk for the voters, but no action on their behalf.

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