Following the release of the 2020 Census numbers in early August, the Illinois General Assembly met in special session on Tuesday, August 31 to vote on revised legislative redistricting maps.
What we have witnessed over the past week has been the continuation of a grand farce that began in the spring, when a partisan map-making process played out in a backroom behind a locked door using inaccurate and incomplete data that produced flawed maps drawn by politicians.
House Republicans warned that those maps would be inaccurate and unlawful – and that warning was proven true when official decennial census counts were released earlier last month. These official counts proved the Democrats’ maps violates the U.S. Constitution, federal law, and comparable provisions of the Illinois Constitution.
No lawful redistricting plan was effective on June 30, 2021 and in this situation, Illinois’ Constitution is clear – the bipartisan commission is responsible for drawing the maps. Instead of shifting responsibility to that bipartisan commission, Democrats fell back on the same disingenuous process that produced these flawed maps that needed to be re-done this week.
Over the last week, we saw Democrats hold hastily called redistricting hearings – some of which were thrown together so quickly that witnesses didn’t attend because they didn’t have time to prepare. Many community groups lack the resources to quickly analyze such a large amount of data, and they couldn’t possibly have been prepared to offer testimony. Not only that, but these hearings were held without actual maps for community groups to even comment on.
These hearings were a sham – a disingenuous effort that was intended to merely check a box, not to collect any real input from community groups. The legislators chairing these committees, the people we are supposed to entrust this process to, still couldn’t even say who is actually drawing the maps during these hearings.
The Democrats once again dropped two new versions of legislative maps in less than 24 hours, giving advocacy groups almost no time to review or give feedback. The final map was dropped just a few hours before the House voted on it.
We know that while these groups were testifying in front of the redistricting committees, the Democrats were once again drawing the new maps behind closed doors taking in no input from anyone other than fellow legislators.
This is not a genuine process. It’s a cynical power grab that has systematically ignored and discouraged input from the public and community groups to push through another map that violates the public’s trust.
This partisan process in which politicians draw maps will not result in the fair maps our state so desperately needs. Politicians should not be drawing maps. Period.
The Democrats’ new legislative map was introduced on Tuesday, August 31, as Floor Amendment #2 (Hernandez) to SB 927. On the same day, the House Democrats’ supermajority approved the new map by a vote of 73-43-0. Passage of the new map by partisan votes in both houses cleared the way for Governor Pritzker to sign the new map into law. This is expected to be followed by a new round of redistricting litigation.
At an unrelated news conference on Thursday, Governor Pritzker said he hasn’t yet reviewed the details of the maps, and they haven’t yet been sent to him.
Pritzker said his principles around maps are focused on “diversity of representation for the diverse state we have.”
In June, the governor signed the initial maps into law three days after saying he still had not had a chance to review them.
9/24 update: Governor Pritzker signed the new legislative map into law on September 24. It now awaits further action from the federal court to determine its validity.