SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker signed new redistricting maps designed to “reflect Illinois’ diversity” on Friday.
“Illinois’ strength is in our diversity, and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government,” said Pritzker. “These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.”
The maps were designed to preserve clusters of minority voters if they are large enough to exert collective electoral power.
The groups Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting and Agudath Israel of Illinois were two advocacy organizations to successfully lobby for changes in the new maps.
Democrats have a supermajority in the House and Senate, so they held the power to draw the maps.
“I am grateful for the residents, community leaders and grassroots organizations that provided their input into the legislative map,” said Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). “Thanks to their work, the map reflects the diversity of our state and ensures every person receives equal representation in Springfield.”
Several other advocacy groups urged the legislature to wait for the release of the full U.S. Census data before approving district lines. The federal agency said the Coronavirus delayed their decennial count of the population, which has pushed the publication of their data beyond the first round of the state’s constitutional deadlines to approve new map lines.
Republicans accused Pritzker of breaking his 2018 campaign promise to veto a redistricting map drawn by partisan politicians or their staff. After he took office, he softened his stance to say he would veto an unfair map, and modified his definition of fairness to include a map that was drawn by politicians, so long as it preserved the collective voices and voting power of Black and Brown communities.
“When JB Pritzker was a candidate for Governor, he made a lot of promises,” Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said in a statement. “He told us he was different, that he was a reformer, and that he would veto any map drawn by lawmakers. Today he broke his promise to voters and joins the all-too-long list of Illinois politicians who promise one thing and then do another.”
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy issued a statement, saying: “Governor Pritzker lied to the people of Illinois when he pledged to veto a politician-drawn map. Governor Pritzker promised to take politicians out of the mapmaking process and hand it over to an independent commission that would be required to follow the Voting Rights Act and protect minority representation. Instead, he let politicians pick their own voters, split up numerous communities of interest, and use faulty data all in an effort to rig the system for those already in power. Pritzker didn’t keep his word and cannot be trusted.”
Democrats celebrated the passage of the maps as a win for diversity.
“Today was a win for the people of this great state,” House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) said in an emailed statement. “With Governor Pritzker’s signature, people of Illinois can be confident in a legislative map that is reflective of the diversity that we see in every corner of our state.”