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Independent Map Amendment Petition Signers Have One Thing in Common: The Diversity of Illinois

CHICAGO — The more than 563,000 Illinoisans who signed petitions to put the Independent Map Amendment on the ballot were reflective of the diversity of the state and a strong cross section of political leanings with more than one-half considered likely Democrats, according to a demographic analysis of a random sample of petition pages.

“The fact that an estimated 56 percent of our signers are Democrats shows that our opponents’ contention that independently drawn legislative maps will disadvantage the Democratic Party does not hold up,” said Dave Mellet, Campaign Manager for Independent Maps. “It’s clear that Illinoisans from both major parties want to stop politicians from manipulating elections and drawing legislative maps behind closed doors.”

The Independent Maps coalition commissioned a demographic analysis of the 20,518 valid petition signatures identified in the 5 percent sample drawn by the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE), which used a statistical formula that guarantees a random selection of all petition signatures. The ISBE examined the sample to determine enough valid signatures had been submitted to qualify for the ballot but was not involved in the demographic analysis.

“Illinois does not have partisan registration, so political affiliation is determined by analyzing a person’s primary vote history and determining how likely they are to identify with each party,” Mellet said. “In our petition sample, 56 percent of signers qualify as Likely Democrats, 23 percent as Likely Republicans, and 21 percent as Likely Independent voters.

“Illinois is a Democratic state, so it’s not surprising that Democrats would make up the largest group of petition signers,” he said. “However, these numbers are much larger than expected and debunk the narrative pushed by opponents of redistricting reform that Democratic voters do not support this amendment.” 

Opinion polls consistently have shown widespread support for reforming the rules of redistricting and in favor of an impartial and fair process of drawing maps. 

The Chicago region, the state’s most populous area, provided the greatest number of signatures. About 34 percent of the signatures were provided by registered voters in Chicago; 19 percent were from the rest of Cook County; and 18 percent were from the collar counties.

“Because Chicago is one of the largest cities in the nation, it’s not surprising that so many of our petition signers are from the city,” Mellet said. “However, it is eye-opening to see Independent Maps receive so much support in an area where many entrenched opponents of this reform are based.”

In terms of race, African-American voters made up 16 percent of the total, a percentage slightly higher than the 2014 Census estimate for Illinois of 14.7 percent. Mellet said it is very encouraging to see that support in the African-American community runs counter to the claims of The People’s Map committee, a redistricting reform opposition group, which has sued to block the amendment from the ballot and which in the past has said that reform would cause “destruction of the middle class and minority communities in our state.”  It is also significant to note that 33 percent of the petition signers are non-white in a state that is 23 percent non-white.

“Overall, these numbers show what our volunteers and supporters have known all along — support for redistricting reform is widespread in Illinois and is not limited to a single party, racial group, or region” Mellet said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This news release was revised July 14 to reflect the correct percentage of Likely Independent voters among signers of the petitions.

Keywords: diversity, Petitions

Posted in News Releases

Paid for by Support Independent Maps.  A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website or for purchase from the Illinois State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.