Signature drive surpasses goal
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson once remarked that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Illinois voters are heeding his advice.
There was a good reason the campaign manager of Yes for Independent Maps campaign said last week that he was "absolutely 100 percent certain" his organization would collect the required 300,000 signatures to put a proposed state constitutional amendment on the fall ballot.
Michael Kolenc was sitting on 300,000-plus signatures when he made the prediction, a reality confirmed Tuesday when Yes for Independent Maps announced that it has 346,759 signatures — and counting. The organization continues to collect signatures of registered voters and wants as many as possible prior to submitting them by the May 4 deadline to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Kolenc's announcement comes as great news to those who support the idea of stripping legislators of their authority to draw their own district boundary lines for the Illinois House and Senate. Under the current arrangement, the majority party draws districts in a way that gives it an electoral advantage.
The result of this gerrymandering is that 97 percent of incumbents — both Democrat and Republican — are re-elected. Roughly two-thirds of those incumbents run without opposition. A nonpolitical map-drawing process would create more competitive races for voters and require legislators to be more responsive to their constituents than to party leaders.
Needless to say, the powers-that-be hate the idea of losing their map-drawing power, and there's no reason they shouldn't. The status quo serves power brokers, like House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, very well. That's why they can be expected to challenge the validity of the petitions as well as go to court to knock this proposal off the ballot.
So while much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. Nonetheless, this is a milestone achievement that has the potential to reshape Illinois' corrupt status quo. So far, so very good.