Illinois Unveils New Redistricting Map

Both liberals and conservatives are criticizing the new lines.

Posted: 05/31/2011 01:57 PM EDT
Filed Under redistricting

Illinois’s Democratic-led legislature has released a new redistricting map that has the state’s Republicans howling mad. It also has raised concern from at least one minority interest group that says the new map spreads out black voters and dilutes their voting power. The Illinois House voted to approve the map Monday, and the Senate is expected to follow suit on Tuesday.

 

Under the new map, there would be eight House and seven Senate seats in districts that have a Black population of 55 percent or higher. But according to the United Congress of Community and Religious Groups, which represents about 50 groups advocating for increased minority participation, that’s not enough, Illinois Statehouse News reports.

 

“Take into account the percentage of turnout in African-American communities; 50 percent alone doesn't mean that you'll be the majority of those who actually vote,” said Josina Morita, the group’s executive director.

 

When drawing the new lines, lawmakers had to take into account the decline in the state’s Black population during the past 10 years. But Morita also doubts the 2010 census figures that showed the decline, saying that many African-American households either didn’t receive or fill out census forms.

 

David Bositis, a senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said that the Democrats’ number one priority was to draw a map that would enable them get as many Democrats as possible elected next year. Because Blacks are the most reliable Democratic voters, it was inevitable that they would be spread out across districts.

 

Republicans in the state harbor no illusion about the Democrats’ true motives. As a result of the 2010 midterm elections, Illinois sent the highest number of Republicans to Washington in years, which helped their party regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposed map seeks to reverse those gains.

 

“This proposal appears to be little more than an attempt to undo the results of the elections held just six months ago, and we will take whatever steps necessary to achieve a map that more fairly represents the people of Illinois—they deserve nothing less,” the GOP lawmakers said in a joint statement.

(Photo: Google Maps/Chicago Tribune)

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