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Illinois lawmakers start redistricting process for new congressional map

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - State lawmakers officially started the redistricting process for the new congressional map. 18,124 people left Illinois over the past decade, and the state will lose a congressional seat due to that drop.

The House Redistricting Committee held its first hearing Thursday and only heard from one witness. Members wrapped up the hearing after less than 30 minutes.

However, some hope the congressional map discussions will have more transparency than the legislative redistricting that took place this spring and summer.

With Illinois losing a congressional seat, Democratic leaders plan to draw out one of the Republican districts. That will likely give the boot to Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) or Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon).

State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said he suspects most Democrats already know what the new congressional map looks like.

"Here we are, two months after the data came out, finally getting around to having a hearing in a process that nobody really knows how it's gonna work," Butler said. "And it's probably going to result in a hugely partisan map to try to protect the majority, the thin House majority in Washington D.C."

Advocate: Listen to community members and allow time for feedback

House Redistricting Chair Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) says the public will have several opportunities to participate in hearings throughout the next week. Democrats plan to approve the new congressional map when lawmakers return for veto session in less than two weeks.

However, advocates are also hoping for a better process. Change Illinois recommended lawmakers should use the 2020 Census data rather than data from the American Community Survey. Democrats used that outdated information in their initial legislative maps this spring. They later used census data for the revised maps.

Change Illinois also said lawmakers should pay attention to the Federal Voting Rights Act. Advocates want to make sure people understand why lawmakers draw each of the new district lines. Finally, Policy Director Ryan Tolley stressed legislators should listen to community members and allow them to provide feedback once the map is released.

"I just want us to think about how can we have a map that reflects the interest of communities if almost every group that tries to engage with this process says their voices were ignored and their communities were harmed," Tolley said.

He also said advocates would like the public to have at least two weeks to see the map before a vote. Although, Tolley noted they would prefer a whole month to review the changes to districts.

Illinois GOP delegation calls redistricting process a sham

Of course, the original legislative maps and the revised maps passed out of both chambers shortly after they were introduced. Gov. JB Pritzker approved both maps, even though it went against a campaign promise. Pritzker told voters he would fight for an independent mapping process. Then-candidate Pritzker also pledged to veto any map created by lawmakers, political party leaders, and their staff or allies.

The Illinois Republican congressional delegation called the new redistricting process another sham. Davis, Kinzinger, and Reps. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), Darin LaHood (R-Peoria), and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) said Democrats only care about protecting their power.

"Illinois citizens have been clear that they want an independent redistricting process free of political influence," they stated. "But as we speak, Democrat lawmakers are picking their own voters behind closed doors."

The Republicans hope Pritzker will keep his campaign promise and veto the congressional map. Still, they noted he already broke that promise twice this year.

"The Democrats' corruption in Illinois will continue as long as Pritzker and Democrats in Springfield can pre-ordain the results of elections before voters cast a ballot," they stated.

You can draw a congressional map by clicking here.

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Mike Miletich

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