Lawmakers and citizens alike saw the Senate Democrat’s redistricting proposal for the first time May 19. Like Illinois residents, Senate Republicans have since then been reviewing the proposed map to assess its impact on citizens, as well as its compliance with the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and other relevant statutes.
The statewide map also drew close scrutiny from minority voting rights groups who want to determine if voting rights took a back seat to partisan political advantage and protection of incumbent politicians.
Senator Brady said he is frustrated because a much fairer option for Illinois citizens is available but has not been allowed a public hearing. On May 26, Illinois Republicans released a map that better reflects the fair representation, competitive elections and greater accountability Illinois voters deserve.
After years of pushing for a Fair Map for the residents of Illinois, House and Senate Republicans released a legislative map on May 26 that includes new districts that are equal in population and comply with the United States Constitution, the Federal Voting Rights Act, the Illinois Voting Rights Act and the Illinois Constitution. The districts proposed are compact and contiguous, and maintain county and municipal boundaries without consideration of incumbent politicians’ addresses or election data.
Community organizations and citizens across Illinois joined the GOP lawmakers in demanding a legislative district map that complies with the principles of Fair Map—and removes political advantage from the process. The Fair Map does not take into account political data, such as constituent voting records or the addresses of current politicians, except when required to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
The lawmakers took the public’s requests and observations into consideration within the parameters outlined in the law. They reviewed and incorporated proposals from minority rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and others, to give the rapidly-growing Latino population a better opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, than what was proposed by Democrats.
When analyzing the Democrat map, it was clear that partisan political advantage was given a higher priority than the rights of Latinos and African-Americans.
The Fair Map creates nine Latino districts with voting age populations (VAP) of 60 percent or more. That’s in sharp contrast to the Democrat map that created only four districts with VAPs of 60 percent or more. An additional majority Latino district is established, while Latino voters in other districts are enhanced and equalized.
In addition, the Fair Map creates two more majority African-American districts than did the Democrat map sent to the Governor.
In the Fair Map, neither party was spared from the pairings, indicating that the Republicans did not take into account incumbency when drawing the lines. Seventeen incumbent Republicans were paired in the House and 17 Democrats were paired, compared to the 19 House Republicans and only six House Democrats that occurred in the Democrat proposal—despite the fact that the majority of population loss occurred in Democrat areas.
At many of the public hearings, community members asked the legislators to respect county and municipal boundaries whenever possible when drawing districts. The Fair Map maintains the integrity of more counties. The House Democrat plan splits 36 percent more counties than does the Fair Map.
The Fair Map is available to the public on www.ilhousegop.org/themap and at http://www.redistricting.senategop.net. Accompanying data is available on the sites.