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Due to the coronavirus, Illinois lawmakers won't reconvene in time to consider redistricting reform legislation.

In Illinois, coronavirus kills year's last plausible redistricting reform vote

Opponents of partisan gerrymandering have been fighting uphill for years to make Illinois one of the biggest blue states to take mapmaking authority away from politicians. Now the coronavirus has doomed the latest such effort.

The General Assembly has been in recess since last month because of the pandemic and now says it won't reconvene before Tuesday — two days after the deadline for completing legislation in time to permit voters to decide in November whether to create an independent redistricting commission.

This year is the last chance to reassign line-drawing power before another decade passes. That's because, after the census details come in, congressional and legislative maps for the remainder of the 2020s are supposed to be completed in time for the next election.

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The leadership shown by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been tremendous, writes Madeleine Doubek. Such leadership is critical to ending partisan gerrymandering.

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Coronavirus must not distract from need for fair elections

Doubek is executive director of CHANGE Illinois, which advocates for governmental and election reforms in the state. (The acronym is for the Coalition for Honest and New Government Ethics.)

One of the many things the coronavirus pandemic has underscored is that leadership truly does matter. It makes a huge difference. A life-and-death difference.

We've witnessed tremendous leadership recently from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and scores of other elected officials. We ought to take a moment to express our gratitude. Their work — and the long hours and work of their staff, and of the staff of local and state employees all over Illinois — will save lives and protect millions of us.

It will give us the opportunity to live freely again, to enjoy our lakefront and partake in contact sports. And to vote.

Yes, this crisis also has underscored that voting is critically important, as is having strong choices when we vote. Choosing those who will lead and represent us is absolutely essential. We saw it after 9/11 and we see it again now.

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A poll worker wipes down voting machines with a disinfectant in Miami Beach, Fla., during Tuesday's primary.

Coronavirus chaos at the polls as primaries proceed in 3 of 4 states

Chaos reigned Tuesday in all three states that pressed ahead with their Democratic presidential primaries in the face of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.

Legions of poll workers, who are mainly older people and therefore in greatest danger of Covid-19 infection, canceled at the last minute or failed to show up at voting locations in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.

Voters were caught off guard when they found their usual polling places shuttered because of health concerns. People in the three states were told where to head instead but people in Ohio were told all voting had been canceled for the day. And plenty of Americans with compromised immune systems decided to walk away rather than risk their health at voting sites they reported were not following basic hygiene standards.

"If it were not so tragic, it would be comical," said Ami Gandhi of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. His organization and a collection of other voting rights groups took stock of their reports from the field at midday.

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Fears over the coronavirus' impact on democracy might be softened if the Democratic nomination fight ended, but there was no indication of that at Sunday night's debate.

Virus sparks push for more voting by mail — after this week's primaries

Update: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio went to court Monday afternoon hoping to delay until June 2 the in-person Democratic presidential primary vote set for Tuesday, saying that proceeding would not comply with new federal coronavirus guidelines against gatherings of more than 50 people. He filed the suit because elections in the state are run by counties, so DeWine does not have the authority over polling places as he does over the restaurants, movie theaters and other places he ordered shut on Sunday. Ohio has 50 known cases of the virus as of Monday.

The four presidential primaries scheduled for Tuesday are going ahead on schedule, albeit with last-minute modifications and serious wariness about turnout in light of the intensifying national coronavirus shutdown.

Officials in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona have all said they are taking extra health precautions so voting in person remains safe. Besides, they say, so much early balloting has already happened that closing the polls on the final scheduled day of voting would severely muddy the integrity of the results.

After Tuesday, however, the national political calendar is increasingly in flux — making some voting rights advocates wary about the potential for suppression, while other arguing the Covid-19 pandemic presents a silver lining for democracy reform if it prompts more widespread adoption of voting from home and by mail.

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