Revised legislative maps once again choose politics over people

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) says Democrat leaders continue to choose political power over the will of the people by once again not allowing sufficient public input into revised legislative maps submitted Aug. 31.

“The days of politicians picking their voters must end. This year, 75 percent of Illinoisans have asked for more transparency and input into the process. They are fed up with closed-door, politically-drawn maps,” Stewart said. “But it appears their requests are being ignored. The first set of maps forced through by Democrat leaders in May were drawn in a strictly partisan manner, and despite a second chance to get it done right, those leaders appear to be following the same playbook with the second set of maps they submitted Aug. 31.”

Approved by a 40-17 partisan vote of the Senate and a 73-43 partisan vote of the House of Representatives, Senate Bill 927 will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

After a months-long redistricting process behind locked doors, the first set of legislative maps were forced through the General Assembly in May and hurriedly signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, despite his earlier pledge to veto any such partisan-drawn map. Drawn using American Community Survey (ACS) data instead of more accurate federal Census data, the maps approved by partisan votes in May do not meet standards set by the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011

The release of census data in mid-August made it clear that the Democrats’ partisan legislative maps are not constitutional. Legislative districts are supposed to be roughly equal in population, but they don’t have to be exactly the same. According to previous rulings from the United States Supreme Court, the maximum deviation from the most-populated to the least-populated districts is capped at 10 percent. Newly-released census data plugged into the first set of maps shows deviations between districts as high as roughly 30 percent, three times the limit allowed.

Serious questions have also been raised about whether lawmakers can make changes to the maps at this point. The Illinois Constitution requires a map to be in effect (passed by lawmakers and signed by the Governor) by June 30. After that date, the authority to draw a map falls to a bipartisan redistricting commission.

Stewart says that a bipartisan commission would enable all sides to work together to put together legislative maps that better protect the voices of communities across the state.

“An independent map drawn by the people for the people is the best way to make their voices heard. For too long, the people of Illinois have been deprived of this right,” Stewart said. “An independent Commission will help new districts better reflect the will of the people.”

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