Illinois Redistricting Watch
Background and procedural information
HB 3699 was introduced on 2/24/05 by Lee Daniels, a Republican who has served as both minority leader and speaker at various times in the past. It was referred to the Rules Committee in early March. The proposed legislation would create an Iowa-style redistricting procedure, where the non-partisan Legislative Research Unit draws the maps and writes the legislation with the advice of a 5-member appointed commission.

Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
Possibly implied. The bill requires that districts be established on the basis of population, and that each district not vary in population from that of an “ideal” district created by dividing the population of the state by the number of districts to be created. There is nothing in the bill, however, that specifies the number or type of districts to be drawn.

Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (i.e. can the commission use voter history information)?
Yes. The plan prevents districts from favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or other person or group, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group. Additionally, while the commission is precluded from using addresses of incumbent legislators, political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, and demographic information, an exception is made for compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the United States. This would presumably encompass the Voting Rights Act.

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
The legislation calls for a 5-member commission, with the four legislative leaders each appointing a member. The 4 appointed members elect the fifth member, who serves as the chairperson. There is no requirement that the commission be exactly bipartisan, and the commission’s sole function is to advise the Legislative Research Unit and hold public hearings.

Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?

Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
Possibly. While the commission must hold at least three hearings throughout the state, there is no requirement that they accept plans drawn by members of the public.

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
No. The Legislative Research Unit can only draft redistricting legislation in years ending in 1.

*Note: A proposal may be neutral on whether or not to favor competitive districts for a number of reasons, including that such a requirement may be thought to conflict with other criteria, potentially create other legal issues, or is assumed to flow from the new process itself -- or it might merely not be a priority for the legislative sponsors. FairVote believes that some form of proportional voting is needed to ensure maximum competitiveness for each seat and to ensure meaningful choices for all voters.
June 18th 2006
Where politicians dare to tread
San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board endorses the British Columbia Citizens Assembly approach to electoral reform, specifically noting the potential for proportional representation in California.

March 21st 2006
Real redistricting reform is proportional representation
San Francisco Examiner

Rob Dickinson of Californians for Electoral Reform writes a commentary on how recent proposals to make the redistricting process fairer miss the mark. For real progress in how we elect our representatives, we need to turn to proportional voting.

March 1st 2006
Tanner redistricting bill gains Senate sponsor
The Hill

Senator Tim Johnson introduced a companion bill to Rep. John Tanner's federal redistricting reform legislation. The identical bills, supported by FairVote, would set up state commissions to handle redistricting only once a decade.

December 20th 2005
Overhaul of state electoral system sought

Following on the heels of the defeat of redistricting reform in California, Republican and Democratic legislators plan on introducing legislation to create a citizens assembly for election reform and discuss proportional voting for the state.

December 11th 2005
A Dramatic Idea for Election Reform
New York Times

A Times reader highlights the fundamental weakness of any single-member district-based system: gerrymandering is unavoidable.

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