Put redistricting maps in hands of citizens, not politicians

Put redistricting maps in hands of citizens, not politicians

By ALAN NUDO, STEVE BECKETT, BARB WYSOCKI and GREG KNOTT

Good faith: "Denoting sincere, honest intention or belief, regardless of the outcome."

The following is a lesson in the meaning of "Good faith."

News-Gazette readers may be following the recent results of the State Board of Election's random check of 5 percent of the signatures collected by the Yes for Independent Maps Committee, finding that only 46 percent were valid. On its face, that low percentage would indicate that the majority of petitioners were either careless or falsifying the names and addresses of the signatories.

Or perhaps the signers were careless or falsifying their own names and addresses (that is, lying). Both scenarios seem very unlikely. In fact, Champaign County committee members were sent eight signatures that were considered invalid. By contacting each of the contested signers, the Champaign County Yes for Independent Maps Committee was able to obtain an affidavit validating EVERY ONE OF THEM.

Can there be problems with the signature-collecting process? Ms. Wysocki, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Knott and I have considerable experience in collecting signatures to be placed on a ballot to run for elected office. We have no doubt that the vast majority of these signatures are in fact legal. What we learned over the years to ensure that names were valid was that we must follow legal criteria:

1. The signers were registered voters

2. Signatures were exactly as they appeared on the voter registration form

3. Current addresses were printed with no abbreviations

We also know that this criteria was thoroughly discussed with those who collected signatures in the many meetings we attended in Champaign County in advance of the petition drive. These same instructions were given by the leaders of the Yes for Independent Maps throughout the state.

Good faith: "The implied covenant of fair dealing."

The review by the State Board of Elections marks the first time this procedure was done in-house due to a very recent change in the law providing for such reviews. Previously, local county clerks were responsible for such an activity. Interestingly enough, the Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan's hand-picked attorney was allowed to attend the random sampling of the petition reviews.

Good faith: "To fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled."

Meanwhile, in May 2014 in Wayne County, Mich., John Conyers, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was placed back on the November ballot by U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman after his petitions were thrown out by the Michigan secretary of state. They were disallowed because more than half of the signatures were gathered by petitioners who were not registered voters themselves. In addition, many of the signatures on the petitions did not have matching addresses or were not registered. In his ruling, District Judge Leitman said that "the failure to comply with the Michigan state statute was the result of GOOD FAITH mistakes. They believed they were incompliance with the statute."

Good faith: "The honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person"

The voters of Illinois are entitled to the same good faith from the State Board of Elections. They are also savvy enough to understand, however, what is really going on behind closed doors. They know the focus of some elected officials is getting re-elected. If the political class draws their own map, they stay in power. Powerful lobbyists know this and they fund incumbents' campaigns to get what they want for profit and power as well ... and the voters of Illinois know why the state of Illinois is spiraling out of financial control.

It is time for the citizens of Illinois to say "Enough!" Let citizens draw competitive maps to inspire those who want to serve in government with the confidence and good faith that they have a chance.

Republican Alan Nudo, Democrat Steve Beckett, Democrat Barb Wysocki and Republican Greg Knott are all former members of the Champaign County Board.

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