As we work to end gerrymandering in Illinois, we frequently hear from naysayers who throw out negative opinions about independent redistricting as if they are facts. So, today, we thought we’d begin to debunk some of the myths about fair maps and independent redistricting commissions. We believe we need to end partisan gerrymandering by politicians who draw districts to benefit themselves and their political parties and, in the process, suppress your voices, votes and choices. We often hear from critics that an independent redistricting commission will attempt to give the minority party (in Illinois’ current case, Republicans) the ability to usurp power from the majority party (Democrats).
But that simply did not happen when California put citizens in charge of drawing the lines through an independent commission. Citizens’ commissions still have to use Census population data to draw maps. They can’t wave a magic wand and turn Illinois residents who are Democrats into Republicans or vice versa. When California removed political self-preservation from the map-making process, its independent citizens commission drew maps focused on voters and communities of interest. The result? In both of California’s legislative chambers, the party that was in the majority before redistricting remained in the majority after redistricting. In fact, the majority party ended up winning more seats. Take a look at the numbers in the graphic below.
And next time someone tells you fair map advocates are trying to help the minority party gain more seats, or a political advantage, show them what happened in California. Show them the facts.