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Illinois Democrats release proposed redistrict map, Republicans call it partisan

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 1:02 AM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Ill. (KWQC) - Redistricting is underway in the state of Illinois and state Republicans are calling out newly released maps for favoring Democratic candidates.

The process of redistricting happens in states every ten years, in conjunction with the U.S. Census. In Illinois, the state’s General Assembly is responsible for drawing the new district map.

With Democrats in control in the Illinois legislature, Republican lawmakers argue the updated map is unfavorable to GOP districts and are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto.

Dr. Kent Redfield, Political Science Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois-Springfield studies redistricting and agrees democrats are favoring themselves.

“I can tell you it’s a partisan map. Absolutely no question,” Redfield said, “This is the democrats being extremely partisan, but there’s no reason to believe the republicans wouldn’t be extremely partisan if they had control of the map.”

The state constitution requires boundaries in newly drawn districts to be ‘compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population.’

“The best way to determine that you’ve met the substantially equal obviously is to use census data, but it’s not required. So it’s likely we’re going to get maps that are drawn based on preliminary, incomplete census data,” Redfield said.

Because of COVID-19, census data is expected to be delayed until late Summer. Instead the Illinois Legislature used community estimates, but some groups and Illinois Republicans say it won’t provide an accurate enough result.

“It’ll be up to the Illinois courts to decide are they going to deal with the democrats map, are they going to appoint a special master. All of this could run up against the election calendar,” Redfield, who expects the maps to pass, said.

In 2018, while running for governor, J.B. Pritzker vowed to veto a gerrymandered map and even advocated for an independent commission, but so far his office has remained silent on the newly released maps.

“The governor campaigned as a reformer. He said I’m going to change the system, I’m going to do what my predecessor haven’t done. I promise to you that I’ll veto the map put forward by politicians,” Republican State Sen. Jason Barickman said at a Tuesday press conference.

Per Illinois constitution, the General Assembly is required to create and approve the new map by June 30. If they fail to do that by the deadline, a Legislative Redistricting Commission with four members from each party will be created.

State lawmakers will hold a chance for public comment Wednesday at 4:00 and 6:00 with the option to join virtually.

The redistricting process in Iowa is slightly different. The state legislature uses a non-partisan committee to draw the lines. If the state is unable to complete the process by Sept. 15, it’s left up to the Supreme Court.

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