Initial maps did not factor in official Census dataLawmakers initially adopted maps during the spring legislative session in order to meet the state constitution’s June 30 deadline, despite the fact that they didn’t yet have the official, detailed U.S. Census data needed to draw districts with nearly equal populations. Republican leaders, as well as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF, quickly filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago arguing that they were unconstitutional because they were based on population estimates from survey data rather than official census numbers. When the official numbers finally came out in mid-August, they did in fact show that population variances between districts were far outside what is allowed under U.S. constitutional law, prompting Democratic leaders to call a special session to adjust the new maps. Republicans argue, however, that those maps were passed well after the state constitution’s June 30 deadline and, therefore, the task should be given to a bipartisan commission, a process in which Republicans would have a 50-50 chance of gaining a partisan advantage.
Revised maps post-Census may still end up in courtThat decision will ultimately be up to the courts. There have been efforts in the past in Illinois to establish a permanent nonpartisan commission to redraw maps every 10 years, an idea that Pritzker and many Democratic lawmakers have said they support. But no such plan has gotten through the General Assembly. “Governor Pritzker’s signing of the legislative maps sends a clear picture of the severity of his ‘retrograde amnesia’ and efforts to deceive Illinois citizens,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, said in a statement. “The governor now joins the multitude of Democratic legislators who lied to voters by campaigning for and promising ‘fair maps.’” “Rarely do politicians get the chance to break a campaign promise twice,” said Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods. “I am deeply disappointed that Gov. Pritzker has turned his back on the many minority organizations that have asked him to protect their voting rights outlined in the constitution and Voting Rights Act by vetoing this gerrymandered map.”
Peter Hancock is the Statehouse reporter for Capitol News Illinois and held that position since January 2019. Hancock previously covered the state government in Kansas for much of two decades, including stints with the Lawrence Journal-World and Kansas Public Radio. He would also report for the Kansas Health Policy Authority and the Kansas Education Policy Report.