Dawn Abernathy voices support for Independent Map Amendment
Dawn Abernathy, a Republican candidate for state House District 59, is supporting an Independent Maps petition to place the Independent Map Amendment before voters this November.
The amendment will create Illinois House and Senate districts without regard to incumbency or partisanship, which will, in essence, allow voters to choose their representatives instead of the representatives choosing their voters.
“I think because more competitive legislative districts can result in more chance for voters to come out and vote,” Abernathy told the Lake County Gazette. “They don’t feel that ‘my vote’s not going to count, the incumbent is going to win anyway.’ It is also going to allow for more competition in an election.”
Abernathy referred to comments President Barack Obama made in support of the amendment while addressing the Illinois General Assembly in February.
“President Obama actually addressed the Illinois General Assembly and he said to build better politics we need to have an independent mapping drawing, but it still hasn’t happened,” Abernathy said. “The last time was gerrymandered because if the controlling party also has the governor they get to draw the map. By its very definition, it is telling you that politics come to play in drawing the map.”
An analysis of Texas congressional districts shows how gerrymandered the state has become by Republicans. Abernathy said she would be fighting for the amendment even if Illinois were a Republican state.
“Just because I am a Republican, I don’t want to have the maps drawn to where I am favored to have a seat," she said. "That is still not right for the public and that is who we should be thinking about at all times, are the voters. We are elected to serve them; it is not the other way around."
Abernathy used the recent primary election to emphasize the lack of competition in the race for Senate and House seats.
“How many uncontested seats have we had for the House and for the Senate here in Illinois?" she said. "Three weren’t even primary races for uncontested seats especially if the incumbent was running. Basically the primary becomes the election with it being gerrymandered so much.”
In 2012, all 177 seats in the Illinois General Assembly were up for election. In the November general election, 101 of them were uncontested.
In states such as California and Arizona, district boundaries are drawn by a bipartisan independent commission. In Illinois, where control over district boundaries is given to legislators, drawing district maps can be used to create and protect a party majority in the House delegation.
The Independent Map Amendment seeks to create such reform in Illinois and attract more candidates for the General Assembly, which would result in more competition for legislative seats and more choices for voters.
Abernathy has taken an active role in pushing the movement for change forward.
“My involvement is I have circulated some petitions; we’ve got to get them in by April 21," she said. "They have to be mailed to Chicago by April 21. I have printed some, and I have gotten some people to sign them trying to get the amendment out there and get it on the ballot and let the people decide. I can’t imagine anyone voting no, that no one should have that. I think Illinois is done with people having power and people having party politics.”
The Independent Maps coalition’s board of directors consists of prominent members of both major political parties, and leaders from the clergy, academia and philanthropic organizations.
A copy of the Independent Map Amendment petition can be accessed at mapamendment.org.