Independent Maps Aims to Remove Politics from Legislative Redistricting

Every 10 years, Illinois lawmakers redraw legislative districts. Critics say it's a bad system that has legislators selecting their voters as opposed to voters electing their representatives.

Independent Maps is a group in Illinois that is leading an effort to change the system with a constitutional amendment. 

The nonpartisan organization wants an independent commission—not partisan legislators—to redraw the state's legislative boundaries and needs 290,216 valid petition signatures to get on the voting ballot in November. According to Independent Maps’ year-end report, the organization has already collected nearly 500,000 signatures.

The Independent Map Amendment would need a majority vote in 2016 to pass and, if approved, would swap out politicians with an independent panel of 11 selected members who would use 2020 census data to draw new district maps in 2021. The new legislative boundaries would go into effect for Illinois House and Senate candidates in the 2022 election.

Cindi Canary, executive director of Independent Maps, joins us to discuss the organization’s citizen initiative.

Click to enlarge: A current map of Illinois' legislative districts. (Illinois Board of Elections)Click to enlarge: A current map of Illinois' legislative districts. (Illinois Board of Elections)  Click to enlarge: A current map of Northestern Illinois' legislative districts. (Illinois Board of Elections)Click to enlarge: A current map of Northestern Illinois' legislative districts. (Illinois Board of Elections)


“Chicago Tonight” asked The People’s Map—the political committee opposed to the amendment—to participate, but they declined our invitation.

Last August, The People’s Map sent out targeted mailers condemning Independent Maps’ efforts for reform as “a political ploy to hurt minorities and middle-class families throughout Illinois.”

Independent Maps swiftly responded with a letter of its own stating that its proposed amendment “protects and strengthens minority-voting rights and embeds Voting Rights Act protections—protections that are not in our constitution now.”