Group must prove signatures for redistricting are real

By Alex Davis |, Anna Carrera

Published 05/21 2014 05:31PM

Updated 06/18 2014 05:30PM

Update: 5:04 pm, 6/18/14, Wednesday
ILLINOIS -- An effort to get the state's legislative districts redrawn is getting a second chance to reach the November ballot. The Yes for Independent Map Campaign has been given more time to validate signatures.

The group turned in more than 500,000 signatures last month, but election officials found more than half were invalid. If the signatures are approved, an advisory referendum could make it on the November ballot.
Original: 5:31 pm, 5/21/14, Wednesday
ILLINOIS -- A plan to change the way Illinois draws district maps is up in the air because thousands of signatures gathered to change things, may be fake. The group, Yes for Independent Maps, handed in nearly 300,000 signatures.

Members hoped to get their proposal on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment. But, with thousands of invalid signatures, it may not happen.

The director of the State Board of Elections, Rupert Borgsmiller, says the agency reviewed about 25,000 submitted signatures and about half came up with errors. It means the group must now challenge the findings.

Borgsmiller says, "They need to basically contact the voter, or they contact the election authority, and provide evidence that who the individuals was and that they were registered to vote at that address."

They can also fix those signatures by getting a letter from the voter stating they signed the petition. They say there's a lot more legwork to be done if they want to get it on the ballot. The group has until May 30.

In the meantime, Borgsmiller and his staff are reviewing Bruce Rauner's petition to institute term limits in the state of Illinois.

Volunteers who helped collect signatures in Champaign County for redistricting efforts say they're confident they have enough. Diane Wilhite was one of those volunteers. She says they collected about 13,000 signatures; she got upwards of 2,000 on her own.

Wilhite says she and other members of Yes! for Independent Maps verified signatures as they went. They made sure to get more than enough, in case the state board of elections did an investigation.

"They threw out many signatures we know are valid," said Wilhite. "Right now we're going through the process, which is dictated by law. We have seven business days and we're going through each one of those that they say are invalid and we're going to demonstrate that they are valid."

Wilhite says the people validating signatures were rushed and weren't given uniform instructions. She says she doesn't blame the workers. She just expected more from the state after they worked so hard to gather signatures.

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