Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law revised sets of legislative and judicial district boundaries over the objections of Republican rivals who slammed the new maps as blatant gerrymandering and reform groups who argue they shut out Black and Latino voices.
But the Democratic governor insisted the maps drawn up by his party “align with the landmark Voting Rights Act and will help ensure Illinois’ diversity is reflected in the halls of government.”
State lawmakers are tasked with redrawing political boundaries every 10 years based on U.S. Census figures, which were delayed earlier this year due to COVID-19.
Democrats who already hold super majorities in the Illinois House and Senate used population estimates to push maps through the General Assembly in May, in order to meet a June 30 deadline in the state constitution. The maps outline new boundaries for districts for the General Assembly, the Illinois Supreme Court and the Cook County Board of Review.
After official Census data was released, lawmakers re-convened in Springfield last month to pass the revised maps.
The hotly contested political boundaries will chart the next decade of elections in Illinois.
Pritzker’s office said the new state House and Senate district maps “reflect Illinois’ diversity and preserve minority representation” because they’re “crafted in a way that preserves clusters of minority voters if they are of size or cohesion to exert collective electoral power.”
But leaders at the anti-corruption group CHANGE Illinois called the Democrats’ new maps “utterly undemocratic,” saying they “steal representation from Latino, Black and other Illinoisans who have repeatedly pleaded for equitable representation.”
“Many major groups agree the new maps reduce the numbers of majority Black voting age population districts and majority Latino voting age population districts,” a statement from CHANGE Illinois reads.
That’s the stance of the Latino Policy Forum, which had urged Pritzker to veto the maps, among other reasons, because lawmakers “did not provide advocates with a reasonable timeline that would enable community input.” Democrats passed their revised maps less than three weeks after official Census figures were released.
Pritzker’s office noted “the General Assembly held more than 50 public hearings statewide” on re-districting.
His GOP nemeses have accused him of betraying a 2018 campaign promise to veto partisan maps — twice, when he signed the original maps in June and now the revised versions on Friday.
“Gov. Pritzker’s signing of the legislative maps sends a clear picture of the severity of his ‘retrograde amnesia’ and efforts to deceive Illinois citizens,” state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement. “Once again, Gov. Pritzker has proven that he governs only for the Democratic political insiders and not for the people of Illinois.”
Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie said, “The governor has now twice chosen to actively betray the people he said he was elected to protect. This choice again proves he is more concerned with protecting the political elite than the people of Illinois.”
Democrats have said their maps are borne out by the Census data.
“It’s not the constituents of Democrats who are leaving in droves — the people who are leaving are the people who are represented by Republicans,” state Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, said when the maps passed Aug. 31.
Illinois Republicans and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund previously filed federal lawsuits against the new maps, but Democrats have said they’re confident they’re consistent with state and federal law.
Unless a federal judge steps in, the legislative maps will be in effect for Illinois’ primary election next June.