The first round of hearings in the process of Illinois state lawmakers redrawing political boundaries are underway, but some are looking for more public participation. In the Senate redistricting committees, lawmakers have discussed having a portal online for citizens to provide their suggested maps. Change Illinois Executive Director Madeleine Doubek told one committee the portal hasn’t been revealed yet and citizens need more transparency. “We need to ensure that people in every corner of this great diverse state of ours have a chance to participate to provide their input and have it responded to,” Doubek said.
There’s also uncertainty on what data to use as Census data has been delayed. “It certainly would be better and helpful if members of the public wanted to try their hand at drawing and mapping their own community of interest to be able to use the data that lawmakers intend to use,” Doubek said. More hearings are expected in both the House and Senate as lawmakers craft a map by June 30. U.S. Census data is being delayed with some numbers expected next month and more in August or September. As lawmakers work through that problem, Gov. J.B. Pritzker explained a fair map should focus on ensuring minority districts are drawn appropriately. “But as you know there are areas of the state that are overwhelmingly one party, let’s say, and another area that may be overwhelming another party,” Pritzker said. “It’s hard to draw competitive districts in those areas.”
Asked if it’s fair to assume jurisdictions are one party or another, Pritzker said that’s up to the Legislature that’s dominated by Democrats. “But what I would say is it’s hard to draw lines in certain areas that don’t get you a more Republican or a more Democratic district,” he said. Nearly half of all Illinois statehouse seats in the November 2020 election were uncontested.