Redistricting and the Illinois experience are illustrative of why the people clamor for transparency, and how public officials cynically use transparency to gain advantage. The clamor is easy to explain: Fair redistricting practices drive competition at the ballot. Competition is central to our nation’s democracy: robust debate is a foundational value of our political system. A lack of competitive views reflected on the ballot reduces voters’ choices. The lack of meaningful choice on ballots is a common complaint by voters. Revised redistricting procedures that benefit the public rather than elected officials may ameliorate the public’s frustration with lack of candidate choice, and it may spur more people to vote.
These days the term “transparency” is bandied about at all levels of our government. Some of the clamor comes from the citizenry who are anxious about the activities of their governments and need a means of holding them accountable; and while some public officials jump on the transparency bandwagon and trumpet its virtues in hopes of using it as a political vehicle to gain advantage, others sincerely believe in transparency’s importance and join the discussion. Transparency, while having little-examined benefits for government officials and employees, ultimately protects the people from government mismanagement and unethical behavior. In the national and state-wide debates, the importance of transparency is best told by stories that exemplify what is at stake for all members of the public, and from the public’s perspective.
Read the entire blog here: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/09/01/illinois-and-the-case-for-open-redistricting/