Majority Passes Extremely Gerrymandered Congressional Map

Image credit: Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

One of the top issues facing the General Assembly this week was passage of the new congressional redistricting map for Illinois. The House held no committee hearing on the final version of the map, took no testimony from advocates, and gave legislators and the general public no time to review or digest the details of the new map. The non-partisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project has since rated the map with a grade of F in all categories for fairness, competitiveness and geographic features. Despite this, much as they did with the state legislative redistricting map, House Democrats voted to pass the fourth and final version of their gerrymandered congressional map around midnight on the final day of Veto Session.

As a result of the 2020 U.S. Census, Illinois is required to divide our state into seventeen congressional districts, equal in population, for the U.S. House of Representatives map that will be used for elections over the next decade. Illinois currently sends eighteen members to the U.S. House, but due to our declining population in the 2010-20 period, Illinois lost one congressional district. 

House Bill 1291 contains the Democrats’ gerrymandered Illinois congressional map. Under the new map, Democrats are likely to go from a 13-5 majority to a 14-3 majority in Illinois’ congressional delegation. Four incumbent Illinois Republicans were drawn into two new congressional districts across central and southern Illinois. A new Democrat-leaning open district was drawn swinging from the Metro East near St. Louis, through Springfield and Decatur, and over to Champaign-Urbana.

After the Senate Democrats amended and passed HB 1291 on Thursday evening, House Democrats voted after midnight to concur in passage of the new Illinois congressional map by a vote of 71-43-0.

Speaking in opposition to Illinois Democrats’ heavily gerrymandered congressional redistricting map proposal, Rep. Tim Butler called out the double-talk and the grip of “Potomac fever” as Illinois’ Congressional Democrats wholly reneged on their promises to support fair and non-partisan maps.

Rep. Ryan Spain also spoke against the gerrymandered Illinois congressional maps: “Illinois Democrat legislators passed partisan gerrymandered US Congressional Maps around midnight last night while most Illinoisans slept. This video shows my comments on the House Floor in opposing these maps drawn behind closed doors with no public comment on the final proposal. Shameful.”

During the House debate, Rep. Jeff Keicher stated that Illinois Democrats were making a farce of democracy with their gerrymandering, quoting what editorial boards and good government leaders across Illinois have said in criticizing the maps and the grotesquely partisan nature of the process that produced them.