SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Statehouse Democrats released revised legislative map proposals Thursday night.
Democratic leaders say they made changes after listening to feedback from lawmakers and advocates during redistricting hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. You can see the revised House map here and the Senate map here.
“What should stand out about this proposed map is how similar districts look compared to our current map,” said Leader Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero). “This is the same map a renowned expert says is a model for the nation for minority representation.”
Democrats also finally explained the data they used for the maps late Thursday night. Besides information from the American Community Survey’s 5-year estimate spanning 2015-2019, Democrats combined input from 50 hearings and public voting data. Redistricting leaders consistently say the ACS data only varies by 0.3 percent from the true Illinois population count released in April. Democrats also claim they drew all districts using the same data.
Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) said the passion and dedication of advocates and community members were vital to the redistricting process. Aquino feels it resulted in a “fair map” that can ensure broad racial and geographic diversity in the General Assembly.
“[We] also maintain our status as a leader in the nation for minority representation in the state legislature,” said Aquino.
Changes made to the maps
Democrats explained they addressed concerns from the Orthodox Jewish community by keeping members together. The majority party also claimed they maintained the integrity of districts surrounding that area. Democratic leaders noted they preserved the southern portion of North Lawndale in Chicago so it could stay in the current 9th District.
Shockingly, Democrats also explained they listened to Republican concerns over the number of incumbent members tossed in the same district. Now, Democrats note they reconfigured some of those districts to accommodate the GOP concerns.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the second round of maps is worse than the initial proposal. He also said House Democrats turned their back on Illinoisans and advocates interested in good government.
“Despite the flowery rhetoric about these changes, the Illinois House Democrats allowed their members to draw their own legislative districts with phony data. It is now on Governor Pritzker to live up to his pledge in 2019 and veto this poor excuse for democracy,” Durkin said.
House GOP members of the redistricting committee quickly pounced on the latest maps as well. They described claims that Democrats are accommodating Republican concerns as deceptive and untrue.
“The only concerns Republicans voiced were the use of inadequate data, and politicians drawing their own maps to pick their voters,” stated Representatives Avery Bourne, Tim Butler, Dave Severin, and Ryan Spain. “We join the countless advocates who testified in four public hearings over the last two days who urged the Majority Party to wait for the official Census data coming in just two months before making final decisions on this very important process in our democracy.”
Losing respect and faith in government
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) argued the latest disclosure demonstrates everything wrong with the broken system of politicians choosing their legislative districts. He feels the new map maintains the status quo to prioritize incumbents and maintain their power.
“No one could watch this gerrymandering process unfold and maintain any level of respect or faith in their state legislature,” Barickman said. “Illinois has to change the way districts are drawn. We desperately need a system where the public actively participates in an open, transparent, and independent process.”
Democrats clearly won’t let the process move to an independent commission this year. So, Barickman and the other Republican members renewed their call for Gov. JB Pritzker to veto the map.
Pritzker campaigned on a goal for an independent redistricting process. He also pledged to veto any map created by lawmakers, political party leaders, and their staff or allies. The Capitol Bureau asked the governor last week if he still plans to reject a “partisan” map.
Pritzker said he’ll veto any “unfair” map. Although, the governor’s definition of unfair is unknown.
Democrats plan to bring the revised maps to committee for further debate before the proposals arrive in both chambers. Still, no hearings are scheduled at this time. Good government groups hoped lawmakers would give the public two weeks to review the maps. Still, Democratic leaders hope to pass the maps before session ends.