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June 20, 2014

Let the voters have a voice

You'd think that half a million signatures would be enough to get a citizens initiative on the ballot in Illinois. But maybe not when that initiative threatens the powers that be.

The group Yes for Independent Maps wants to end the gerrymandering that happens once a decade when lawmakers redraw legislative boundaries. It collected more than 500,000 signatures — about 200,000 more than required — to let voters decide if they want to substitute a fair, objective remap system.

But the Illinois Board of Elections is challenging signatures and erecting obstacles to verifying them. It’s a complex process reminiscent of the fight over hanging chads in the 2000 presidential election — only this fight is happening to prevent a vote from ever taking place.

Meanwhile, a court case is challenging the constitutionality of the measure. A Cook County judge is expected to rule next week on that.

In a choice between an objective, fair mapmaking process or a process slanted in favor of the political party in power, it’s a no-brainer what the people of Illinois want. The only people who want to keep the status quo are the political power brokers.

Illinois should be working to facilitate the wishes of half a million people, not thwart them. This measure belongs on the ballot in November.

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