Democratic Governor JB Pritzker signed a law establishing the new maps last week, although he promised as a candidate that he would veto any maps drawn by politicians. Pritzker said the new cards help ensure minority representation and align with federal and state voting rights laws.
Republicans and other critics have opposed throughout the map-making process, saying Democrats drew the boundaries behind closed doors and using flawed data. Democrats used population estimates from the American Community Survey rather than data from the US Census Bureau, which is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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GOP Representative and Senate Minorities Representative Jim Durkin and Senator Dan McConchie filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Chicago against House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch, Senate Speaker Don Harmon, Pritzker and officials of the state electoral council.
The lawsuit seeks to have the maps declared unconstitutional and annulled, and asks a judge to order Welch and Harmon to appoint members to a bipartisan redistribution commission that would design and approve new maps after the release of official census data in August. In a statement, Durkin and McConchie said they would make their commission appointments “soon” and work with them and with the Democratic leadership.
“Today we go to court on behalf of the thousands of families, small business owners, workers and taxpayers who have said they want an independently drawn map, not one handed down by desperate political insiders in power, ”McConchie said.
Democrats argued the process was open, saying they attended a series of town halls that influenced how the boundaries were drawn. They also said there was no time to wait for the census figures as the cards must be completed by June 25. But that date is just when they would lose full control of the process.
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Representative Lisa Hernandez, a Democrat who led the House redistribution committee, criticized Republicans as obstructing what she said was a “citizen-driven process.”
“As expected, the Republicans are doing everything in their power to block a map that reflects the true diversity of Illinois in the hope that they will have the chance to single-handedly draw a map for their political benefit,” Hernandez said.
When running for governor in 2018, Pritzker called for an independent commission to draw the lines and said he would veto maps drawn by politicians. But in recent weeks, he noted that no commission had materialized and said he would veto any “unfair” card.
A spokeswoman for Pritzker said Wednesday that Republicans had “signaled that they would sue for these cards no matter what.”
“The administration believes that these cards preserve electoral power and fair representation for the various communities, which is why the governor signed them,” spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.
The political lines must be redrawn after each decennial census to reflect the evolution of the population and to ensure the protection of the rights of the voters. They must be compact, contiguous and of equal population, among other things.
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