Illinois Democrats unveil revised political maps after critics hammer gerrymandering in first draft

Politics

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Illinois Democrats revised their initial redistricting draft maps on Thursday night, in part to “keep more of the Orthodox Jewish community united” and “to accommodate the concerns of Republicans.”

“The changes we made not only reflect testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public, but also include revisions to address concerns raised by Republicans,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) said in an emailed statement.

The initial maps, which were unveiled last Friday night, lumped several incumbent Republicans into districts with their neighboring colleagues, setting up a number of primary showdowns that would have forced several incumbents out of elected office.

A statement from House Speaker Chris Welch’s office said, “A number of those districts have been reconfigured to accommodate the concerns of Republicans.”

Sources close to the redistricting process expect the updated maps to start moving through the legislature as early as this Friday.

Several community groups, including Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Black, and voting rights organizations, voiced concerns about how the initial maps were constructed behind closed doors or blended together with the use of voter data.

Witnesses testified at a House and Senate redistricting committee hearing on Tuesday that the use of voter data in redistricting maps could have the effect of undercounting populations with historically low voter turnout.

Democratic leadership says the second draft of the redistricting maps addresses some of those concerns raised in committee hearings over the last few days.

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.

“The revisions will keep more of the Orthodox Jewish community united,” a statement from Welch’s office said. “The revised legislative map also restores the southern part of the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago to its current legislative district following feedback from community members asking for that change.”

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.

You can click through the updated House maps here and Senate maps here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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