Draw IllinoisTool increases public participation, allows anyone to draw and submit boundary proposals

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus and the Illinois House Democratic Caucus have launched a new online portal that allows members of the public to draw and submit proposed legislative boundaries. The move builds on the commitment of Democrats to engage in a redistricting process that is transparent and fair, encouraging input from communities across the state as legislators work to draft a fair map that reflects the diversity of Illinois.

The portal presents the first time in Illinois history that the public can go online to craft proposed maps, allowing for greater access and public participation in the once-a-decade redistricting process. All maps submitted through the portal will be reviewed as part of the public record. The portal can be accessed online day or night at www.ilsenateredistricting.com and www.ilhousedems.com/redistricting.

“Senate Democrats are dedicated to ensuring all voices are heard, as that is the best way to ensure the creation of a fair map that reflects our state’s wide racial, geographic, religious and socioeconomic diversity. This online portal presents yet another way for the public to meaningfully engage in the redistricting process, and we look forward to seeing the various proposals that will be submitted,” said Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “We know our communities have changed dramatically in the last decade, and the best way to learn about those changes is through the volunteer groups, neighborhood organizations and religious institutions on the ground every day – especially in Latinx, African American and other minority communities that have historically been excluded.”

Senate Democrats have spent the last several weeks seeking public input on the map making process, establishing 15 subcommittees to gather information from stakeholders in all of Illinois’ 102 counties. Senate Democrats have already held eight regional hearings, which have taken place both in person and virtually, with numerous additional hearings scheduled in the coming weeks. House Democrats will begin holding public hearings today, presenting more than two dozen opportunities for the public to weigh in as legislators work to meet the June 30 deadline outlined in the Illinois Constitution to craft a fair map.

“The public drawing portal opens the redistricting process to everyone in Illinois,” said Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, Chairperson of the House Redistricting Committee. “By drawing their own maps and sharing them, people of all backgrounds can engage with the process like never before, and offer legislators a level of insight that will help make this the most open and participatory redistricting process in our state’s history.”

Redistricting occurs every ten years, as each state is required to draw new boundaries for legislative districts in response to shifts in population. While each state has a unique process for redistricting, legislative districts must conform to several constitutional and statutory standards, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act provides the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on abridged based on race or color and prohibits the drawing of redistricting plans that results in the denial or abridgement of the right to vote based on race, color or membership in a language minority.

Building on that federal law, Illinois Democrats spearheaded the passage and implementation of the Illinois Voting Rights Act in 2011, which also ensures redistricting plans are crafted in a way that preserves clusters of minority voters if they are of size or cohesion to exert collective electoral power.

In Illinois, legislative redistricting maps must also meet four requirements including: districts must be substantially equal in population; districts must be configured in such a way as to provide adequate representation to minorities and other special interests protected by state and federal law; districts must be compact and contiguous; and maps must meet all legal requirements regarding political fairness.

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