League of Women Voters sues over Illinois remap

August 16, 2011 3:43:22 PM PDT
A lawsuit is filed over the way Illinois Democrats drew up new congressional and legislative maps.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois is challenging the remap, calling the process unconstitutional.

The lawsuit claims the new maps are not fair to voters.

"We're looking out for the voters' interests and not for the parties' interests," said Jan Dorner of the League of Women Voters of Illinois.

Some Republicans have also sued, saying the new boundaries give Democrats an unfair advantage in many districts.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political group.

While Governor Pat Quinn defends the remap, the league says Democratic lawmakers did not use objective criteria to come up with the new districts.

Every ten years, political districts are to be redrawn to fairly represent voters. Census results are to be used to help make those changes.

On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit complaining that the new district maps violate voters' first amendment rights by drawing new districts to favor incumbents, a practice that is called gerrymandering.

"Both parties have been gerrymandering districts in Illinois and throughout the United States for many decades, maybe even centuries, and it needs to stop," said Dorner.

Quinn approved the newly-drawn congressional and legislative districts.

"I looked at both maps both for the congressional districts and the state legislative districts and I found them to be fair and an open process and I signed the bill," said Quinn. "I have no regrets whatsoever."

The current congressional districts were reduced by one to accommodate a drop in population in the most recent census.

The new congressional districts puts some Republicans in districts with other lawmakers. Some Democrats are also in competitive districts.

Despite the litigation, Quinn contends it was a fair process.

"It was the most open process of all time in Illinois when it comes to the difficult task of drawing districts. Everybody had a chance to participate," said Quinn.

Ann Lousin, a law professor at John Marshall Law School, was on the committee to change the redistricting process in the 1970s. She says she is also a member of the League of Women Voters. Lousin says the league's complaint won't get far.

"This is just not going to go anywhere, it is going to cost some money to litigate, and it isn't going to do any good," said Lousin.

The League of Women Voters would like to see a non-partisan, neutral individual or committee in charge of redistricting.

However, changing the process of redistricting is likely something that would not happen before the next election.

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