Illinois State Senate

Remap Process to Focus on Transparency, Fairness and Reflecting Diversity of Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus launched a series of statewide redistricting hearings on Wednesday, seeking public input as lawmakers begin the once-a-decade process of drawing new legislative boundaries to ensure communities receive equal representation. Senate Democrats are committed to a redistricting process guided by the principles of transparency, fairness and reflecting the diversity of Illinois.

The first hearing of the Senate Redistricting Committee was held at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, with more than a dozen regional hearings scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. Hearings will be held both in-person and virtually, allowing for input from stakeholders in all of Illinois’ 102 counties. For the first time, anyone who wishes to propose a new legislative boundary map will soon be able to draw and submit a map online.

“Redistricting is a vital part of our democracy, a process that at its heart is about making sure all voices are heard,” said Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “While this year presents new challenges, it will not prevent us from doing our work in a thorough, thoughtful and transparent manner. We are committed to ensuring our state’s varied and diverse communities receive fair and equal representation, especially Latinx, African American and other minority communities that have long been pushed to the margins.”

The Senate Redistricting Committee hearing schedule is as follows, with additional dates to be added:

March 17, Springfield (In-person)
March 18, DuPage County (Virtual)
March 19, Northern Illinois (Virtual)
March 22, Peoria (In-person)
March 25, Chicago-South (Virtual)
March 26, Northwest Cook County (Virtual)  

Redistricting occurs every ten years following the U.S. Census count, 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 Senate 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.

While a delay in data from the U.S. Census Bureau will create hurdles, it does not negate the responsibility of the General Assembly to undergo the redistricting process as required by the Illinois Constitution. The Senate Redistricting Committee is dedicated to meeting the June 30 deadline for a new redistricting plan to be approved, as it is the best way to ensure the creation of a fair map. Failing to meet that deadline would turn the redistricting process over to a committee of political appointees, resulting in an outcome that puts the wishes of a handful of political insiders ahead of the interests of the citizens of Illinois.

“We will not shy away from our responsibility to hear from the people of Illinois as we work to create a fair map that reflects the diversity of our great state,” said Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, Vice-Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “Though the pandemic creates new challenges in this process, it has also laid bare the inequities plaguing Black and Brown communities that can only be addressed when everyone has a seat at the table. The outcomes are far too important to be decided by a handful of political insiders behind closed doors.”  

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