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|Knox College Professor Wants Current Way of Drawing Congressional Boundaries Reformed; Recommends Iowa's Process
|A professor at a local college hopes the way the state's congressional districts are drawn gets a once-over.
State contracting and campaign fundraising have been getting much of the attention in Springfield. Knox College Public Policy Professor Jim Nowlan says the drawing of the districts, from which lawmakers are elected and happens once every ten years, should be reformed. The redistricting process is required to adjust for changes in population.
Nowlan, who was a state representative between 1969 and 1973, says the state's districts have no compactness or logic to them other than to elect the incumbent. He says the process has become one in which lawmakers select their voters rather than voters selecting their lawmakers. Nowlan says Iowa handles redistricting by producing a map that lawmakers can either accept or reject, but they can't change it.
"They have three public employees in the Legislative Services Agency draw the map drawing upon computer support aimed at simply making sure the districts are equal in population and substantially compact and try not to tear up counties and cities if at all possible."
The Illinois Constitution allows the state's districts to be drawn by legislation. However, in all three instances of redistricting under the current constitution - in 1981, 1991 and 2001 - state government had a partisan divide and could not reach an agreement. When that happens, the job goes to an eight-member panel comprised of four members from each party. If they can't reach a compromise, a ninth commission member is picked at random, giving control of the process to that individual's party.
The Illinois reform commission, which released 34 recommendations earlier this week for overhauling ethics laws, is calling for an end to the so-called gerrymandered congressional districts.
|05 01 09 by Newsroom
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