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Our View

More reasons to reform how districts are drawn

If you need any more reasons in favor of reforming Illinois’ highly partisan redistricting process, The Associated Press came up with several this week.

The AP reported that minorities are greatly underrepresented in the 177-seat Illinois Legislature.

For example, Latinos make up nearly 17 percent of the state’s population, but have just over 7 percent representation in the Legislature.

Asians make up 5 percent of Illinois’ population, but have no representation in the Legislature.

Overall, whites make up 62 percent of Illinois population, but hold nearly 75 percent of the seats in the House and Senate combined.

The AP analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine how closely representation in the Legislature matched the demographics of Illinois residents.

Clearly, the current redistricting process, whereby majority politicians draw the maps every 10 years, doesn’t serve the people well.

Democrats controlled the process the last time in 2011. They drew maps that increased their 64-54 House seat advantage in 2010 to 71-47 after the 2012 election.

Likewise, Democratic-drawn maps boosted Democrats’ Senate seat advantage from 35-24 after the 2010 election to 40-19 after 2012.

When politicians manipulate district maps, they skew results in their favor, no matter the consequences to fair representation.

Map manipulation also suppresses competition. That suppression continues in 2016.

A check of Illinois State Board of Elections candidate lists details the shocking lack of competition for legislative seats in November.

More than 59 percent of House seats are uncontested – 70 out of 118.

Worse, fully 70 percent (28 out of 40) races for Senate seats are uncontested.

Given Illinois’ many financial and budgetary problems, the lack of contested legislative races is unbelievable.

Fortunately, the State Board of Elections recently approved the Independent Map Amendment for the November ballot – pending a lawsuit by allies of powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to suppress this common-sense reform effort to depoliticize the process.

Madigan is the same guy who for decades has heavily influenced the inequitable, partisan redistricting system that is unfair to minorities, skews election results, stifles competition, and thwarts the will of the people.

It’s long past time to cast this unfair, broken system aside.

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