Anyone who’s unclear on the definition of gerrymandering need only to look at the congressional district maps unveiled in the state of Illinois one week ago.

Democrats in Illinois’ General Assembly have mapped out a plan that would reduce the number of congressional districts from 18 to 17, as dictated per the state’s drop in population in the 2020 Census. The new maps have created 17 districts that wind and bend like jigsaw puzzle pieces. The result? Whereas the current districts have placed 13 Democrats and five Republicans in Congress, the new maps would shift the breakdown to likely yield 14 Democrats and three Republicans. Even that’s not good enough for some Democrats who are pushing for a 15-2 split.

Clearly, there’s no one even trying for the appearance of fairness here.

In our neck of the woods, District 17, represented by Cheri Bustos, has long been a big and long district, running half the length of Illinois. But the proposed new maps are even weirder, taking a turn to the East at Peoria and running all the way to Bloomington, some 200 miles from the likes of East Dubuque.

The new maps would eliminate the seat in District 16, which includes the area just east of Freeport, where Trump critic Republican Adam Kinzinger currently serves.

Although Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised to veto partisan maps, that didn’t happen, and it’s looking like the proposed maps will get his support — even though state Republicans and other groups have brought court challenges.

It’s unfair to the people of Illinois to have such off balance representation. And when the decade turns and there’s been a shift in power, the maps are rejiggered to favor the other party. That’s not how representative government is supposed to work.

The debacle that is Illinois’ maps should be a lesson to the state’s tri-state neighbors.

In Iowa, a second try at nonpartisan redistricting maps came out Thursday. Lawmakers will vote on the second set of maps in a special legislative session Oct. 28. It’s critical that Iowa do the right thing and stick to its “gold standard” of fair and impartial maps.

Iowans overwhelmingly agree — they don’t want to be like Illinois. They want to keep things in balance with no one party wielding control. In general, isn’t that how politics work best? When two parties are forced to negotiate and find common ground, that’s where good legislation is born. We don’t

see that so much in Washington, and sometimes not even in Des Moines. But it is far less likely when political gerrymandering gives one party all the power.

Take a look at the fiscal state of the State of Illinois and see how well that’s working.

And so goes the fight in Wisconsin. Residents of the Dairy State know only too well how much the maps matter. After Republicans drew the maps in 2011, the GOP won 60 out of 99 seats in the state Assembly the following year, despite a huge Democratic turnout.

This time around, Gov. Tony Evers created the People’s Maps Commission with the express purpose of drawing fair and nonpartisan maps. That was in line with the wishes of thousands of citizens who weighed in during the redistricting process. Now, even though the maps created would still give Republicans an edge over Democrats, Republicans who control the state legislature call the proposed maps “unconstitutional.” The mess is likely to be settled in court.

Few issues better illustrate the chasm between constituent wishes and political maneuvering than gerrymandering. Citizens want a fair fight, a balance, a representative government. Politicians who support partisan maps want an advantage, an upper hand, a safe seat.

We’re rooting for tri-state politicians to recognize this dichotomy and do the right thing. It’s hard to see that ever happening in Illinois. But Iowa can lead the way, and maybe Wisconsin can follow suit. In a world of political fighting, nonpartisan maps represent the will of the people.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.

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