Difference between revisions of "Redistricting in Illinois"

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}}{{tnr}} '''Redistricting in Illinois''' is done through both the [[Illinois General Assembly|General Assembly]] and a redistricting commission.  Illinois gives its lawmakers the first opportunity to draw the lines.  If they fail to meet the deadline, a back-up commission is used. Illinois is one of a few states to enact a hybrid method of redistricting.
}}{{tnr}}'''Redistricting in Illinois''' is done through both the [[Illinois General Assembly|General Assembly]] and a redistricting commission.  Illinois gives its lawmakers the first opportunity to draw the lines.  If they fail to meet the deadline, a back-up commission is used. Illinois is one of a few states to enact a hybrid method of redistricting.
Illinois lost one congressional seat from the reapportionment after the 2010 census.<ref>[http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/12/21/illinois-stands-to-lose-1-congressional-seat-in-redistricting/ ''CBS Chicago,'' "Illinois Stands To Lose 1 Congressional Seat In Redistricting," December 21, 2010]</ref> The state population increased from about 12.4 million to 12.8 million residents, a 3.3 percent growth.<ref>[http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=468327 ''The Daily Journal'' "Census: Cook County losses slow Illinois population growth ," February 15, 2011]</ref>
Illinois lost one congressional seat from the reapportionment after the 2010 census.<ref>[http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/12/21/illinois-stands-to-lose-1-congressional-seat-in-redistricting/ ''CBS Chicago,'' "Illinois Stands To Lose 1 Congressional Seat In Redistricting," December 21, 2010]</ref> The state population increased from about 12.4 million to 12.8 million residents, a 3.3 percent growth.<ref>[http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=468327 ''The Daily Journal'' "Census: Cook County losses slow Illinois population growth ," February 15, 2011]</ref>

Revision as of 12:29, 18 January 2014

Redistricting in Illinois
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General information
Partisan control:
Legislature first, Commission as backup
June 30, 2011 (legislature); October 5, 2011 (Back-up Commission
Total seats
State Senate:
State House:
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Redistricting on PolicypediaState legislative and congressional redistricting after the 2010 CensusState-by-state redistricting procedures
Redistricting in Illinois is done through both the General Assembly and a redistricting commission. Illinois gives its lawmakers the first opportunity to draw the lines. If they fail to meet the deadline, a back-up commission is used. Illinois is one of a few states to enact a hybrid method of redistricting.

Illinois lost one congressional seat from the reapportionment after the 2010 census.[1] The state population increased from about 12.4 million to 12.8 million residents, a 3.3 percent growth.[2]

According to a report in the Washington Post, Illinois was one of the top 10 states to watch in the redistricting process. The reporters ranked Illinois number 2 on the list. Florida was given the distinction as the number 1 state to watch.[3]

While the Illinois Constitution gave the legislature until June 30 to pass a map, Democrats focused on finishing before May 31, the final day of the regular session. If a map was not passed by then, it would require a supermajority to pass, which would have made it much more difficult for Democrats.[4]


While Illinois redrew the maps, the final redistricting plan was subject to review by a federal judge[5]. The deadline for the General Assembly to complete a redistricting plan was June 30, 2011. If the General Assembly failed to meet the deadline, a back-up commission had to have a plan in place by October 5, 2011.

Role of the Governor

When the Illinois Constitution was adopted in 1970 it included the creation of an amendatory veto for the governor. State constitutional experts said that this gave Gov. Pat Quinn (D) the ability to make changes to any map that was sent to him. However, it was thought that this would be unlikely, especially since Democrats controlled the process.[6]

Redistricting commission

If the General Assembly fails to meet the deadlines to have a redistricting plan in place, a back-up commission is used. 8 persons are selected to draw the legislative and congressional boundaries[7]. The 8 members are selected as follows:

No more than four members can be from the same political party[7]. When members are selected, one must be a legislator and the other must be a non-lawmaker[7]. If the Commission reaches no agreement by the deadline, the Illinois Supreme Court recommends two individuals who have no party affiliation to the eight members of the commission. It is up to the Commission to select one person to be its ninth member that would break any tie votes[7].


2011 was the first time under the current state Constitution that one party -- namely the Democrats -- controlled the state House, Senate and governorship during redistricting.[8]

A number of Republicans expressed concern that Democrats would be drawing partisan maps to serve their own interests. Sen. William Haine (D) defended his party's redistricting efforts, saying, "It will be an open process. And then we'll all have to run for office. So we have to go to the voters and say, 'This is what we've done.' If they don't like it, it's adios."[9]

The Committee set up a website at IL Senate Redistricting.

Most critics predicted that, owing to the loss of population in Chicago, Democrats would create oddly shaped districts based in Chicago but stretching out into the suburbs.[10]

Senate committee

The Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee consisted of the following members:[11]

Democratic Party Democrats (10)

Republican Party Republicans (6)


The Senate redistricting committee scheduled five public hearings. In announcing the meetings, Chairman Raoul stated, “It’s my intent to hold further hearings after these five are wrapped up but more importantly I want to give the public ample notice to participate in our committee proceedings."[12] The committee was criticized for only holding meetings before proposed maps were draw up, allowing the public to comment on the possible changes before being voted on. To that end, Raoul said he intended to add at least two hearings after the map was drawn for just that purpose.[13]

  • March 28 - Chicago - Dozens showed up to testify before the committee. Issues raised included keeping communities of interest together and how prisoners are counted.[14] It lasted about 4 hours.
  • April 6 - Springfield - As of April 1, only one organization, the Springfield branch of the NAACP, had registered to testify before the committee. President Teresa Haley said they would discuss how prison inmates are counted. Leaders of the Illinois Farm Bureau were concerned about dilution of agriculture interests, but hadn't decided whether they would testify or not.[15]
The meeting had fewer than a dozen people testify and lasted under two hours. Citizens from Shelby and Effingham Counties both testified that they had too much representation, and would rather have fewer representatives in order to keep their communities together.[16]
State Sen. Dale Righter (R) agreed, saying, "We understand that maybe in the more dense areas of the state, like the Chicagoland area, that sometimes you can’t follow municipal or township or county boundaries. But you get Downstate, where the population is a good deal less dense, then there should be a much greater ability to make sure that legislative lines track those municipalities."[17]
  • April 16 - Kankakee and Peoria - The President of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, along with several others, pressed for transparency in the redistricting process. Echoing a call that had been heard at nearly all meetings, they asked for a public comment period on proposed maps, not finalized ones.[18]
  • April 19 - Cicero
  • April 21 - Carbondale and Elmhurst
  • April 26 - Yorkville - The meeting in Yorkville was unique in that no one commented. After near adjournment, three people spoke, but all essentially asked where the map was to comment on. Yorkville Alderman Rose Spears stated, “I thought there would be more information. Without that information, I’m thinking: Why am I here?”[19]
  • April 28 - South Suburbs and Macomb
  • April 30 - Northwest Suburbs and Chicago's Westside
  • May 2 - Alton - The final scheduled meeting was quiet, with only one person testifying.[20]

House Committee

Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D) announced the formation of the House Redistricting Committee on March 31, 2011. It consisted of the following members:[21]

Democratic Party Democrats (6)

Republican Party Republicans (5)

Madigan also announced a new website for the committee. It included full information on upcoming meetings along with census data.


The House committee initially announced 15 public hearings around the state.[22]

State Rep. Jim Watson (R) referred to the meetings as "kind of a dog and pony show," going on to say, "There's nothing that's going to change from those hearings. [The Democrat majority is] still going to draw the map to give them more seats and a better chance at holding the majority."[23]

  • April 16 - Champaign, Cicero, and McHenry - Citizens of McHenry County called for growth in the area to lead to more representation, possibly three House seats. Testimony at all the meetings pressed legislators to have additional public meetings and comment periods after proposed maps were drawn up. State Rep. Michael W. Tryon (R) agreed, stating, “This whole process is meaningless if we don’t get to see a map and comment and vet a map that the process produced. I’m encouraged by the process of having a bipartisan committee and having hearings and letting everyone make comments.”[24]
  • April 18 - Aurora, East St. Louis, and Elgin - At the meeting in Aurora, Naperville cartographer Christopher Devane presented his map of Illinois legislative districts, which he called the "most logical map in Illinois history," and was surprised when the committee didn't have any questions. Some officials pressed for Aurora to be its own district, while others called for meetings after proposed maps were available so they could comment on them.[25] Similar calls for a comment period were made at the meeting in Elgin.[26]
  • April 19 - Rockford, South Suburbs, and Waukegan - The Rockford meeting drew about 50 people, most of whom pressed for transparency, racially fair districts, and public review of proposed maps.[27] Calls for a public comment period on proposed maps were also made at the meeting in Waukegan.[28]
  • April 20 - South Chicago and Rock Island
  • April 21 - Downtown Chicago, Joliet, and Peoria - The meeting in Peoria drew over 50 people, of which 15 testified. Issues of transparency, continuity, and minority voting rights were raised, with the majority of those testifying in agreement that there should be more hearings after the maps were drawn.[29]
  • April 25 - Springfield - The Illinois Latino Agenda, a coalition of 49 Latino organizations, presented maps proposing 16 Latino House districts and 4 Latino Senate districts. Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum stated, “If Illinois’ two million-plus Latinos were proportionately represented, there would be 28 Latino-elected leaders in Springfield. There are just 12 such leaders today. The disparity is troubling, given that Latinos are the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the state. However, given the geographic dispersion of our growing Latino community, the Agenda is calling for the creation of 20 Latino majority, influence, or coalition districts.”[30]

Census results

On December 21, 2010, Illinois lost one congressional seat as the Census figures were released.[31] This reduced the Land of Lincoln from 19 to 18 seats in Congress. With the state's congressional districts needing to be redrawn, it looked to be cause for concern to the Republicans. The GOP won a majority of Illinois 19 congressional seats on November 2, 2010. This included upset victories by Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois-14th District), Joe Walsh (R-Illinois-8th District), Robert Dold (R-Illinois-10th District), and Bobby Schilling (R-Illinois-16th District).

On February 14, 2011, the Census Bureau shipped Illinois' local census data to the governor and legislative leaders. This data would guide redistricting for state and local offices. The data is publicly available for downloading.[32] State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D) said that now that the data is in, he is hoping for a proposed redistricting plan by mid-May.[33]

Latino population growth

The Illinois Latino population grew by 33% from 2000 to 2010, reaching 2 million. Meanwhile, non-Latino population declined by 0.8%. Due to this growth Latino leaders called for strict compliance with the Voting Rights Act to ensure equal representation for the community. Arturo Vargas, Educational Fund Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, stated, "As Illinois now undertakes its 2011 redistricting, those who draw its maps must recognize Latino population growth by ensuring the new maps allow Latinos to effectively choose their elected leaders."[34]

City/County population changes

These tables show the change in population in the five largest cities and counties in Illinois from 2000-2010.[35]

City 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Chicago 2,896,016 2,695,598 -6.9%
Aurora 142,990 197,899 38.4%
Rockford 150,115 152,871 1.8%
Joliet 106,221 147,433 38.8%
Naperville 128,358 141,853 10.5%
County 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Cook 5,376,741 5,194,675 -3.4%
DuPage 904,161 916,924 1.4%
Lake 644,356 703,462 9.2%
Will 502,266 677,560 34.9%
Kane 404,119 515,269 27.5%

Congressional Maps

A possible congressional redistricting strategy by the Democrats was that districts near the Wisconsin border could be redrawn at the expense of removing Dold's or Hultgren's seat in order to challenge freshman Republican Joe Walsh in 2012[36] [37] [38].

According to a report in the Washington Post, Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling was one of the most likely Congressmen to become a victim of redistricting. He was ranked as number 7 on the list.[39]

Map passed

House Democrats released a new congressional redistricting plan on May 27, 2011.[40] When the GOP first got a look at the plan, their congressional delegation released a joint statement calling it “little more than an attempt to undo the results of the elections held just six months ago.”[41]

Three days after releasing their plan, House Democrats approved a revised version on May 30, passing the bill 63-54. State Rep. Mike Fortner (R) said the changes were made two hours before a vote was taken, and that the public had no chance to review the map.[42] House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said the plan was, "A good map, a solid map and certainly an eminently fair map."[43]

The Senate passed the map on May 31 by a margin of 34-25. [44] Gov. Pat Quinn signed the map on June 24, and issued a statement saying, "This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts, and protects the voting rights of minority communities."[45]

According to an analysis by Politico, the new map threatened to cost the GOP up to five U.S. House seats. In the new districts, freshman Republicans Adam Kinzinger, Robert Dold and Bobby Schilling were drawn into Democratic-leaning districts, while Joe Walsh and Randy Hultgren could have been pitted against each other, and Tim Johnson was put into a newly competitive district in the southern Illinois. GOP consultant David From said of the map, “It’s kind of a work of art, in the wrong direction. There’s a lot of creativity. Whether you agree with it or not, Speaker Madigan has always been a smart politician.”[41]

Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady called on Gov. Quinn to veto the maps. In a press release Brady quoted three statements from Quinn in which he pushes for a fair, open redistricting process and competitive districts. Brady said if Quinn was to live up to his words he must veto the maps.[46] Quinn signed the map into law on June 24, stating, "This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts, and protects the voting rights of minority communities."[47] Republicans and the League of Women Voters both filed lawsuits, alleging the districts were unfairly redrawn in favor of Democrats.


Figure 1: This map shows Illinois congressional districts after the 2000 Census

The 4th and 17th Congressional districts of Illinois were featured in a Slate publication titled, "The Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts." There were 20 districts featured from across the country.[48]

Top Ten Ranking

According to a report in the Washington Post political blog "The Fix," Illinois was home to one of the top ten redistricting battles in the nation, ranking first on the list. Texas was ranked second.[49]

Legislative Maps


The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that would increase the number of public hearings for redistricting. Senate Bill 3976 would require at least four public hearings related to redistricting[50].

SB 3976 contains a requirement that the new political maps must be drawn with crossover, coalition, and influence districts[51]. A "crossover district" is a district consisting of a racial or language minority that has less than a majority of the voting age population[51]. The minority could be large enough to elect their chosen candidate with the help of voters that are members of the majority and cross over to support the candidate[51]. A "coalition district" is defined as a district consisting of more than one group of racial or language minorities that could form a coalition to elect a candidate of their choosing[51]. The term "influence district" means a district where a racial or language minority can affect the outcome of an election despite their preferred candidate may not win[51].

The State House approved the bill by a 67-46 vote on January 4, 2011[52]. The State Senate approved the bill by a 53-4 vote on December 1, 2010[53]. Senate Bill 3976 was sent to Governor Pat Quinn for his signature on January 13, 2011[54], and he signed it on March 7.[55] It is the first time in 40 years that the redistricting process in the state has changed.[56]

SB 3976 is made up of two parts. The first, known as the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011, is aimed at keeping special communities of interest from being divided. Leaders from Chicago's Chinatown lobbied for the legislation in order to keep their voting power from being diluted. During the last redistricting cycle following the 2000 census, the area was divided into three state Senate districts, four state House districts, and three congressional districts. The bill was symbolically signed in Chinatown.[57] Quinn stated, “For many, many racial minorities and citizens who come to our state who want to be part of our democracy, it’s important that the remapping and the redistricting lines be done in a fair way, and that’s what this law is all about.”[8] Some critics contended that the law would only exacerbate the already irregular boundaries of many state districts.[58]

The second part of the bill, the Redistricting Transparency and Public Participation Act, was more controversial. It provided for four public hearings around the state in order to hear from the public on existing districts. Many good-government groups said that this simply did not open up the process enough. Whitney Woodward of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform testified about the bill when it was being considered, stating, “Public comments and involvement is needed to look toward future, not retrospective, maps. This bill does not provide for discussion of draft districting plans. Furthermore, there is no requirement that the public have an opportunity to review and comment on maps after the committee approves a plan, but before it goes to the floor for a vote.”[59]

Another point of contention was that there were only four meetings. Sponsors of the bill, Sen. Kwame Raoul (D) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D), responded to the criticism by saying that four is the minimum mandated by the legislation, and that they would push for more.

These tables show the state Senate districts with the most and least population following the 2010 census.[60] The target population for new districts was 217,468.[61]

Most populated Senate Districts Incumbent 2010 Population
42 (Plainfield) Linda Holmes (D) 337,625
25 (Aurora) Chris Lauzen (R) 332,979
32 (Crystal Lake) Pamela Althoff (R) 254,707
43 (Crest Hill) Arthur Wilhelmi (D) 252,892
41 (Lemont) Christine Radogno (R) 250,942
Least Populated Senate Districts Incumbent 2010 Population
20 (Chicago) Iris Martinez (D) 187,878
7 (Chicago) Heather Steans (D) 188,147
17 (Chicago) Donne Trotter (D) 189,200
3 (Chicago) Mattie Hunter (D) 189,367
14 (Chicago) Emil Jones (D) 190,871

These tables show the state House districts with the most and least population following the 2010 census.[60] The target population for new districts was 108,734.[61]

Most populated House Districts Incumbent 2010 Population
84 (Plainfield) Tom Cross (R) 202,008
50 (Yorkville) Kay Hatcher (R) 178,899
49 (Geneva) Timothy L. Schmitz (R) 154,080
81 (Monee) Renee Kosel (R) 142,036
85 (Romeoville) Emily Klunk-McAsey (D) 139,496
Least Populated House Districts Incumbent 2010 Population
6 (Chicago) Esther Golar (D) 86,931
25 (Chicago) Barbara Flynn Currie (D) 91,147
2 (Chicago) Edward Acevedo (D) 91,849
4 (Chicago) Cynthia Soto (D) 92,536
40 (Chicago) Deb Mell (D) 92,752

Counting prisoners

In January 2011, Rep. LaShawn Ford introduced legislation that aimed at ending prison-based gerrymandering. Known as the Prisoner Census Adjustment Act, it would require census figure to be adjusted in order to count prisoners at their pre-incarceration address rather than in the district where they are imprisoned. As it currently stands, someone who serves just a two-year prison term would be counted as a resident of the prison for the next 10 years.[62]

One of the groups pushing for this reform was the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations. They argued that the current process unfairly increases the power of voters in districts that include prisons. As an example in Illinois, they cited Lawrence County, whose population grew by 9% since 2000. A large percent of that, however, had to do with the creation of the Lawrence Correctional Center, which opened after the 2000 census. Lawrence was to be redistricted into 7 county board districts made up of 2,407 residents each. The Correctional Center holds 2,358 prisoners, which means the district that it is in would have only 49 residents who can vote. This gives the votes of these 49 greatly disproportionate power.[63]

New York, Delaware, and Maryland had all recently passed laws outlawing prison-based redistricting.


Democrats released proposed maps of the 59 state Senate districts on May 19.[64] Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said the proposal "follows the law and it's fair and it follows the Voting Rights Act as well as the new law we passed, the Illinois Voting Rights Act."[65] Republicans, however, were anything but pleased, saying the maps would likely guarantee a Republican minority for the next decade. The new lines merged a number of current Republican districts, potentially leading to runoffs between incumbents in at least 4 districts.

One of those affected was Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who saw her district merged with freshman Sen. Ron Sandack. Radogno called it a "very partisan map," saying, "In other years there has been a map put out and changes have been made to it. I don't know if that will be the case or not, but we're really just trying to digest it all right now."[65] Districts were also merged between Republicans Tom Johnson and John Millner, David Luechtefeld and Kyle McCarter, and Tim Bivins and Christine Johnson.[66]

The maps and details of the proposal can be found on the Senate Redistricting Committee website. Public hearings on the maps were held in Chicago on May 21 and in Springfield on May 24.

Republicans released their counter-proposal on May 26, saying their map was fairer than the Democrats.[67] It can be seen here. The Senate passed the Democrats plan by a vote of 35-22.[68] Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill on June 3,[69][70] but GOP leaders filed a federal lawsuit on July 21, 2011 alleging the legislative maps unfairly targeted Republicans and discriminates against African-Americans and Hispanics.[71]


Democrats released proposed maps of the 118 state House districts on May 20, but initially offered few details. Steve Brown, a spokesman for Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, simply said, “It follows the law. That’s what I know. That’s the way it’s always been done.”[72] The House held a public hearing on the maps on May 22, the same day they released population data on the new districts.

Democrats defended the new maps while being criticized from nearly all sides. Lack of data and the time to digest it angered transparency advocates. Whitney Woodward of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform stated in her testimony, “The General Assembly has had months to create districts which comply with the law and the Constitution, if the committee genuinely seeks to bring sunshine into this process it’s inappropriate and inexcusable to give the public only a few days to examine this map.”[73]

Republicans were unhappy that the new districts would position over a dozen Republican incumbents against one another. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie acknowledged that partisanship was a factor, stating, “Yes, partisanship does play a role in the drawing of House and Senate districts, but while we believe this plan is politically fair, we don’t deny that partisan concerns from time to time played a role.”[74]

The proposed map created 16 districts with an African-American voting-age population over 50% and 11 with a Latino population over 50%, where as there were at the time 18 majority-black and 8 majority-Latino.[75] For many minority advocates that was not enough of a change. The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations said additional minority-minority districts could have been created, especially for the rise in Latino population.[74] To that end, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund testified that the maps violated the Voting Rights Act.[76]

Democrats were also criticized for creating a number of snaking districts that begin in Chicago and wind their way out into the suburbs. It had been predicted Democrats would do this in order to make up for population losses in the city. They defended the districts as necessary in order to uphold the federal Voting Rights Act as well as the Illinois Voting Rights Act. The League of Women voters and others argued that the districts failed to keep together similar communities and work to protect incumbents. Still others were worried that such districts would lead to divided city/suburb loyalties for legislators.[77]

The proposed maps are available on the House Redistricting Committee website.

Republicans released their counter-proposal on May 26, saying their map was fairer than the Democrats.[78] It can be seen here. The Democrats plan passed the House 64-52.[68] Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill on June 3,[69][70] but GOP leaders filed a federal lawsuit on July 21 alleging the legislative maps unfairly targeted Republicans and discriminated against African-Americans and Hispanics.[71]

Legal Issues

Brady v. Madigan

Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady and the state Republican Party filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2011 asking the Supreme Court to declare the redistricting process tiebreaking provision in violation of the state constitution. Additionally, the suit sought to stop the legislature from finishing redistricting until the court declared a ruling.

In the past, ties have been broken by drawing a name from a hat. In 2011, however, Democrats had the numbers to pass a map without any Republicans. Brien Sheahan, general counsel for the Illinois GOP, said the suit was filed when Republicans began to see how Democrats were drawing the map. He stated, “The court could certainly supervise an expedited process that would be more open, more transparent, that would produce fairer districts.”[79]

Oh June 15, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to take the case.[80]

Radogno v. Illinois State Board of Elections

Republican Senate leader Christine Radogno and House Republican leader Tom Cross filed a federal lawsuit on July 21 seeking to invalidate the legislative maps drawn by Democrats. They alleged the new maps unfairly targeted Republicans and violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African-Americans and Hispanics,[81] as well as violating the state constitution's compactness requirement.[82]

According to the suit, "The bizarre shapes of several districts … is in furtherance of a deliberate attempt to enhance Democrats' prospects for re-election and target Republicans to prevent their re-election," while many districts "slither across traditional lines in order to place multiple incumbent Republicans into one district."[71]

The case was to be heard by a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court. If successful, either parts or the whole of the map could have been redrawn.[83]

In September, the organization African Americans for Legislative Redistricting asked to be added as a defendant to the case. The coalition of civil rights groups helped Democrats in drawing the new boundaries.[84]

On December 7, a federal panel threw out the suit, dismissing charges of racial gerrymandering and dilution of Latino voting strength. Radogno issued a statement saying, "We will carefully review our options. Our goal of providing all Illinois citizens a fair opportunity to elect representatives of their choice for the next decade remains. The map crafted by the majority particularly weakens the ability of minority voters to exercise their voting rights. This opinion could further weaken their position."[85]

Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map v. Ill. State Board of Elections

Illinois Republicans filed suit against the new Congressional districts in July 2011, arguing they violated Hispanic voting rights and were severely gerrymandered. In September, plaintiffs asked a federal court to force the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to produce documents requested in a subpoena. They sought to discover what role the national Democratic Party played in drawing the new district lines.[86]

An order issued by a three-judge federal court panel in October allowed Republicans to find out the identities of experts and consultants used by Democrats when redrawing the lines. The panel also ruled that lawmakers and their staff were immune from providing documents that were not based on objective facts.[87] The decision stated, "Full public disclosure would hinder the ability of party leaders to synthesize competing interests of constituents, special interest groups and lawmakers, and draw a map that has enough support to become law. This type of legislative horse trading is an important and undeniable part of the legislative process."[88]

GOP seeks injunction

The Illinois Republican Party filed a request for a permanent Federal injunction on November 4, 2011 seeking to prevent the new Congressional districts from being implemented.[89] Citing emails and other correspondence between Democratic state party leaders and national leaders, Republicans claimed they worked together to create a map favorable to Democrats. The GOP argued that the new map was unconstitutional as it was politically gerrymandered and diluted Latino representation.[90]

Court hearings began on November 17[91] and ended the next day. The fate of the suit would be determined by three federal judges. The date for a decision, however, was unknown, and with the signature filing deadline approaching on December 5, there was talk that the date might be moved.[92] Indeed, on November 22, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow pushed back the filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for U.S. House to December 23–27. If the suit was not resolved by December 21, the deadline would be moved again.[93]

Democratic Memos

In November, Republicans turned up Democratic memos between the national and state party organizations that showed the two working together on redrawing districts. In a memo dated May 24, Ian Russell, Midwest Political Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D), "A critical part of the remapping process is altering the districts of incumbent Republicans to complicate their paths back to Washington." The portion of the memo was titled "Destabilizing Republican Incumbents."[94]

Another email written by Eric Lausten, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, to Tim Mapes -- the top staffer for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) -- implied the Congressman's input in the ultimate map. "Tim -- Just finished revising the map for Congressman Lipinski's 3rd District. I thinks its moving in right direction..."[94]

Congressional Dems to pay for lawyers

Illinois' Democratic congressional delegation was set to pay $500,000 in order to defend the new Democrat-drawn congressional map in court. The office of Attorney General of Illinois Lisa Madigan told the state's congressional Democrats that it did not have the lawyers and skills necessary to defend the map and, to that end, hired three outside lawyers, instructing the Democrats to pay the bill. The eight members of the congressional delegation each sent a check for $10,000 to the National Democratic Redistricting Trust on August 31, and were working to raise more.[95]

At a meeting in mid-September to determine how Democrats were going to pay the court fees, U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Bobby Rush - the three African-Americans in the delegation - refused to pay. The congressmen raised issues relating to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, questioning if the new map was truly fair after all. Hispanics outnumber blacks in Illinois, yet the new map created three districts with majority black population, but only one majority Hispanic population.[96]

Map upheld

On December 15, the federal court panel hearing the case said they agreed with the Republican complaint that the map was "a blatant political move to increase the number of Democratic congressional seats," but that Republicans "failed to present a workable standard by which to evaluate such claims." The court also rejected the argument that the map diluted Latino voting strength, stating Republicans failed to present enough evidence that the legislature intentionally sought to discriminate against Latinos.[97]

With the suit resolved, candidate filing for congressional races began on December 23 and went through December 27.[98] The original deadline had been December 5, but had to be moved back due to the then pending lawsuit.

League of Women Voters v. Quinn

The League of Women Voters of Illinois filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Gov. Pat Quinn on August 16, alleging the new legislative maps were not drawn fairly. President Jan Dorner said the maps should be drawn for the voters, not the parties.[99]

The suit argued that Democrats violated the First Amendment by using partisan voting information to redraw district boundaries, stating, "The General Assembly and governor have unlawfully selected residents to speak, debate, assemble and vote in these districts based upon their political viewpoints and opinions, without safeguards against the misuse of such criteria to regulate or abridge First Amendment rights for partisan ends."[100]

On October 28, 2011, the three-judge U.S. District Court dismissed the case.[101]

Schmidt v State Board of Elections

The Illinois Green Party filed a lawsuit on October 24, 2011 seeking to retain its qualified party status in the U.S. House and state legislative districts where it received 5% of the vote in November 2010. Under state law, the party receiving at least 5% automatically qualifies for the next election in the district. However, the state argued that, due to redistricting, the qualified status does not apply.[102]

Citizen Activism

Draw the Line Midwest

On March 15, 2011, the Draw the Line Midwest campaign was announced. Billing itself as "the nation's first regional redistricting reform campaign organization," Draw the Line Midwest is made up of 25 reform organizations from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. It is a collaboration between the Midwest Democracy Network and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

The groups say the campaign is a coordinated effort to depoliticize the redistricting process by pushing for transparency, public participation, and protection of minority rights. They will be proposing alternatives to legislative plans and setting up District Builder, free open-based software that will allow anyone to draw the maps. The site is expected to be up in all states by April.[103]

Unity Map

On May 3, 2011 the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations released a redistricting map that aims to strengthen African-American, Latino, and Asian-American voting rights. Referred to as a "Unity Map," it has 38 majority-minority state house districts and 18 state senate districts. These 56 districts would increase the current number by 11. The maps are available on the United Congress website.[104]

School Redistricting

As part of his budget address on February 16, 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a plan to consolidate school districts statewide. At the time, Illinois had 869 school districts, the forth-largest number in the nation.[105] Quinn's plan would have limited the state to 300 districts, most likely converting it to a unit school system, where all levels of education are in the same district. According to Illinois state officials, some 200 districts contained only one school.[106]

Quinn's plan was estimated to save $100 million each year by eliminating administrators and improving efficiency. One method of consolidating would be to redraw school districts by population, as legislative districts are drawn. Quinn said he would have liked to begin the process as soon as possible and, if everything went according to the proposal, the new districts could be in place as soon as fall of 2013.[107]

County Redistricting

Counties with a population under 3,000,000 had until July 1, 2011 to redraw their districts.[108] If this deadline was not met, the task would fall to a commission made up of the county clerk, state's attorney, Attorney General, and county chairman of the Republican and Democratic Central committees.[109]


County board districts in Champaign County were to be drawn by a special redistricting commission that was said to be the only one of its kind in the state and possibly the nation. Known as the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, it had a deadline of April 15 to recommend a new map to the county board. It pledged transparency to such a degree that every time they adjust or move any boundary they must explain their reasoning.

The commission was chaired by Rick Winkel, a University of Illinois professor and former Republican state senator. Democrat Esther Patt, a former Urbana City Council member, served as vice chair. The public was also invited to submit their own maps to the commission for consideration.[110]


On March 8, 2011, Kane County Board Chair Karen McConnaughay announced the creation of a special task force for redistricting the county board. She recommended that at least two board positions be cut from the current 26, citing that the Illinois Counties Code allows counties with a population between 800,000 and 3 million no more than 18 members. Since 2000 Kane has grown by 111,150 residents for a total population of 515,269.[111] McConnaughay said she expects the county to reach 800,000 within the next 20 years and that it would be better to cut the board slowly over time.[112]

On March 29 the task force voted 5-1 to recommend the board reduce its size from 26 to 24 members.[113]

Redistricting timeline

Illinois 2010 Redistricting Timeline
Date Action
December 21, 2010 State informed of number of Congressional Seats on the 2010 Census.
March 1, 2011 Expected date to receive complete Census data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
April 1, 2011[114] Final deadline to receive Census data.
April 5, 2011 [115]. Last consolidated elections in currently drawn boundaries.
June 30, 2011[7]. Deadline for the Illinois General Assembly to have a redistricting plan in place.
July 10, 2011[7] Deadline to have a Redistricting Commission formed.
October 5, 2011[7] Final deadline to have a redistricting plan in place.
March 20, 2012[116]. First statewide primary election in newly created wards.
November 6, 2012 First general election in newly created legislative and congressional boundaries.


Redistricting in Illinois was generally representative of the state's population during its early history as population was the only basis for representation in both houses. The 1869-70 constitutional convention aimed at reducing sectional partisanship and came up with the unique solution of "cumulative voting." Under this system, voters could divide three votes however they saw fit among candidates in each of the state's three member House districts. This was to last until 1980 when voters abolished the system while also reducing the House from 177 to 118 members.

From 1818 to 1901 the Illinois Legislature succeeded in following the state constitution and successfully redistricted on schedule 14 times. During this time, Cook County grew to such an extent that legislators realized that, if districts continued to be allotted by population, Cook would soon be able to elect a majority in both chambers. To this end, the legislature ignored its duty to reapportion itself all the way until 1954.

In that year, Gov. William Stratton was able to convince the legislature to present a reapportionment amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved. This amendment created a new set of conditions for redistricting. First, it increased the House from 51 districts electing 153 representatives to 59 districts and 177 representatives. Secondly, it provided for "permanent" Senate districts based on area. 18 were given to Chicago, 6 to suburban Cook County, and 34 to downstate. This effectively assured downstate control of the upper chamber. Thirdly, the new rules said that if legislators failed to redistrict, a 10 member bipartisan commission appointed by the governor would assume the task.

In 1955 both chambers successfully redistricted themselves and the governor approved the plans. This was the first change in state legislative districts in 54 years. The success, however, did not last long. In 1963, the House argued relentlessly over how many districts would be transferred from downstate to northern areas. When they finally did pass a plan, the governor vetoed it, leading to the first use of the 10 member commission. The commission also failed to agree on a plan before their tenure expired, and the 1964 elections saw all 177 House members elected at-large.

In 1965 the state legislature again failed to enact a redistricting plan. The state Supreme Court then assumed jurisdiction over Senate redistricting, with House redistricting being handed over to another commission. The court's plan for the Senate gave Cook County a majority of seats in the Senate for the first time, and the commission successfully passed a plan for the House. The legislature failed once again in 1971, and the task went back to a commission. The commission was able to pass a plan that was used from 1972 to 1980.[117]

1980-The current redistricting commission was first formed.[118].

1981-The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued the State of Illinois alleging that the lines drawn after the 1980 Census would have prevented voter turnout in Hispanic wards in the City of Chicago[119].

1990-The Illinois Supreme Court threw out a 1989 judicial redistricting law that allowed appellate courts to be drawn further into sub-districts. The state's highest court heard the case on allegations that appellate court sub-districts were gerrymandered in favor of certain ethnic communities in Cook County, Illinois[5]. After the court made its decision, the Chicago Sun-Times praised the court's decision and slammed political leaders for allowing such a proposal during a July 6, 1990 editorial[5].

2001 redistricting

Deviation from "Ideal Districts"

2000 Population Deviation[120]
Office Percentage
Congressional Districts 0.00%
State House Districts 0.00%
State Senate Districts 0.00%
Under federal law, districts may vary from an 'Ideal District' by up to 10%, though the lowest number achievable is preferred. 'Ideal Districts' are computed through simple division of the number of seats for any office into the population at the time of the Census.

Lawsuits related to the 2000 Census

There were 10 lawsuits related to the Illinois 2000 census redistricting process.[121]

  • Hastert v. State Board of Elections, No. 91 C 4028 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 20, 2001) : On June 1, 2001, the day after Governor of Illinois George Ryan signed into law a new congressional redistricting plan based on the 2000 census, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and two other Republican House members petitioned the federal court in their 1991 case to approve the new map for use in the 2002 elections.
  • Phelps v. State Board of Elections, No. 01-MR-15 (1st Cir. Saline Co., complaint filed June 4, 2001) : Congressman David Phelps and others alleged that the act which redrew congressional districts violated the Illinois Constitution's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of Article I, § 2, along with the requirement of Article IV, § 3(a), that “Legislative Districts shall be compact, contiguous and substantially equal in population.” The complaint also called the plan “political gerrymandering” and/or “collusive bipartisan gerrymandering." The complaint sought a declaration that the law is invalid and an injunction against its use.
  • Alexander v. Ryan, No. 92002 (Ill. Aug. 22, 2001), reconsid. denied (Ill. Sep. 5, 2001) : Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file an original action in the Illinois Supreme Court was denied.
  • Barnow v. Ryan, No. 01 C 6566 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 17, 2001) : Plaintiff challenged in state court the tie-breaker provision for appointing the ninth member of the Legislative Redistricting Commission under the Illinois Constitution. Defendants Attorney General, Secretary of State, certain members of the Legislative Redistricting Commission, and certain members of the State Board of Elections filed a notice removing the case to federal court. Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court, arguing the Attorney General did not have the consent of all defendants for the removal and that the constitutionality of the tie-breaker provision should be decided by the state court. A three-judge federal court denied the motion.
  • Currie v. Ryan, No. 92341 (Ill. Sep. 19, 2001) : Petitioners’ motion for leave to file an original writ of mandamus in the Illinois Supreme Court was denied.
  • Legislative Redistricting Comm’n v. White, No. 92454 (Ill. Oct. 23, 2001) : Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file a complaint for declaratory relief was denied.
  • Winters v. Board of Elections, No. 01 C 50229, and Barnow v. Ryan, No. 01 C 6566 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 20, 2001), aff’d 535 U.S. 967 (Apr. 1, 2002) (No. 01-1114) (mem.) : Plaintiffs challenged the tie-breaker provision for appointing the ninth member of the Legislative Redistricting Commission. The court upheld the tie-breaker provision as being a reasonable attempt to encourage the members of the commission to compromise and agree on a plan. The court found the framers of the 1970 constitutional amendment that added the tie-breaker provision had a rational basis for doing so.
  • Cole-Randazzo v. Ryan, No. 92443 (Ill. Nov. 28, 2001) : Plaintiffs alleged that the redistricting plan adopted by the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission could have been more compact. The court rejected the challenge, saying that the plaintiffs had failed to carry their burden of showing that the plan adopted by the commission was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
  • Beaubien v. Ryan, No. 92701 (Ill. Dec. 27, 2001) : Plaintiffs alleged that the redistricting plan adopted by the Illinois Legislative Redistricting Commission could have been more compact. The court rejected the challenge, saying that the plaintiffs had failed to carry their burden of showing that the plan adopted by the commission was not “reasonably compact.”
  • Campuzano v. Board of Elections, No. 01 C 50376, 200 F. Supp.2d (N.D. Ill. May 3, 2002) : The complaint alleged that the legislative redistricting plan drawn by the Illinois Legislative Commission on Redistricting violated §2 of the Voting Rights Act by failing to draw a sufficient number of Senate and House districts in which the candidate elected would be the choice of either African-American or Latino voters. The court held that plaintiffs had failed to carry their burden of proving that the plan did not provide African-Americans effective opportunities to elect candidates of their choice.

Constitutional explanation

With respect to redistricting, the Illinois Constitution provides authority to the General Assembly in Section 3 of Article IV. If the General Assembly fails to enact a redistricting plan by the deadline, Section 3 allows for the creation of a Legislative Redistricting Commission.

See also

External links


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