Illinois
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature with backup commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Severe

Congressional

Alert:
High

Related content

Process

State Legislature

Illinois's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by the state Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a three-fifths vote in each chamber.

Back-Up Legislative Commission

  • Per the state constitution (Art. IV, § 3), if the state fails to adopt state legislative lines by June 30, 2021, a backup commission will be formed by July 10 to draw those lines. These dates will assuredly be affected by the proposed Census delay. There is no backup commission in the event of a failure to adopt congressional district lines.
  • The Commission is made up of eight members, with a maximum of four per political party. The four legislative leaders each appoint one member of the General Assembly and one non-member to serve on the Commission.
  • A plan must be approved by August 10 by a vote of at least five commissioners. If this deadline is not met, the state Supreme Court submits the names of two people of different political parties. The Secretary of State randomly chooses one of these names to serve as the ninth commissioner. The nine-member commission will have until October 5 to approve a plan.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Illinois’s state constitution (Art. IV, § 3) requires that state legislative districts be compact and contiguous. When drawing state legislative lines, each "Legislative District" elects state senators, and these get divided into two "Representative Districts," which elect state representatives. There are no state law requirements for drawing congressional districts.

In addition, the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 further mandates the creation of state legislative districts that allow racial or language minority groups to elect their candidates of choice when possible, beyond the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Public Input

Illinois has begun its public input process for the 2021 redistricting cycle. The House Democrats and Senate Democrats have published their redistricting websites, where the public can find relevant information and contacts. The portal to draw legislative districts is now open to the public as well.

Illinois is required by law to hold four public hearings in geographically distinct areas of the state. This law only applies to the state legislative, not congressional, redistricting process. In the 2011 cycle, the Senate committee held nine public hearings while the House held fifteen. No hearings were held on the congressional map before it was adopted.

2011 Cycle

In the 2011 redistricting cycle, there were several legal challenges brought against the legislative maps on the basis of unconstitutional partisan and racial gerrymandering. All cases were dismissed, and the maps were upheld.

Issues

Pitfalls

Overall, Illinois does not set off statistical alarms for partisan gerrymandering. Illinois has multiple opportunity-to-elect districts, drawn under the guidance of state law, the Voting Rights Act, and the Constitution. Even so, both chambers of the Legislature and the Governorship are controlled by Democrats. Single-party control increases the risk of partisan gerrymandering. Legal battles over redistricting every decade have been the norm in Illinois since the 1980s, and numerous calls for reform in recent years have failed.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, Illinois lost one congressional seat. In states like Illinois with unified party control, the loss of a congressional seat may lead to the pairing of congressional incumbents from the opposing party.

Potential Reform

Republicans in the Legislature have introduced a bill to create an independent redistricting commission. The bill is modeled off a 2019 constitutional amendment, which has bipartisan sponsors but never received a hearing. The bill would require maps to be drawn using Census data rather than ACS estimates.

Other more modest legislative reforms include calls to create an advisory commission and demands for more transparency and accountability. Additionally, Governor J.B. Pritzker has repeatedly pledged to veto any unfair map.

In 2020, bipartisan sponsors had proposed the Fair Maps Amendment to the Legislature, which would create a 17-member independent citizen redistricting commission. The idea behind the amendment received 67% support. PGP organized a coalition letter of state-level reform organizations in support of the amendment. Although the campaign had gained momentum, the pandemic led to stagnation, causing the deadline for putting a constitutional amendment on the November 2020 ballot to pass without a hearing.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • Obtain Illinois redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

  Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. While the deadline to change the constitutional process for this redistricting cycle has passed, it is never too early to plan and organize for reforms.

Contacts

Better Government Association

Change Illinois

Common Cause Illinois

League of Women Voters of Illinois

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia