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A healthy democracy requires competitive elections and new ideas. Unfortunately, our current system gives the party in power ultimate authority to redraw legislative maps. We need to take the power of drawing legislative maps away from politicians and give the people of this state the opportunity to vote on a new redistricting system.

I am standing with my Senate Republican colleagues in supporting Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJRCA 4), a bipartisan measure that would give voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution in order to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps.

Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift district lines to create an advantage for the members of their party, which is often referred to as “gerrymandering.” This system is what creates strangely shaped districts and non-competitive elections.

SJRCA 4 would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in. If SJRCA 4 is approved by the Legislature, this measure would place the question of fair maps on the ballot for the next statewide election.

Instead of drawing districts behind locked doors, we must give voters a chance to create a system that increases transparency – and takes politicians out of the process.

State Sen. Bill Brady, Bloomington

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