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

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – Democrats in Illinois revised their first redistribution maps Thursday night, in part to “keep more of Orthodox Jewry united” and “to address Republicans’ concerns.”

“The changes we have made not only reflect testimony provided in recent days by members of the public, but also include revisions to address concerns raised by Republicans,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) said in a statement. press release sent by email.

The initial cards, which were unveiled last Friday night, regrouped several incumbent Republicans in 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 the office of House Speaker Chris Welch said, “A number of these districts have been reconfigured to address the concerns of Republicans.”

Sources close to the redistribution process expect the updated maps to start roaming the legislature as early as this Friday.

Several community groups, including Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, black and voting rights organizations, have expressed concerns about how the initial cards were constructed behind closed doors or mixed with the use of voter data.

Witnesses said at a House and Senate Redistribution Committee hearing Tuesday that using voter data in redistribution maps could result in under-counting populations with historically low voter turnout.

Democratic leaders say the second draft of the redistribution maps addresses some of the concerns raised during committee hearings in recent days.

The Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting and Agudath Israel of Illinois were two advocacy groups that successfully lobbied for changes to the new maps.

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

The new maps failed to convince Republican House Leader Jim Durkin, who detonated the revised maps in an emailed statement approximately 45 minutes after their release.

“The second round of Democratic House legislative cards are as dishonest as those released last Friday,” Durkin said. “House Democrats have turned their backs on the people of Illinois and all the advocacy groups that care about honest government. Despite the flowery rhetoric about these changes, Illinois House Democrats have allowed their members to design their own legislative constituencies with dummy data. It is now up to Governor Pritzker to keep his promise in 2019 and veto this poor excuse for democracy. “

Several other advocacy groups have urged the legislature to wait until full U.S. census data is released before approving district lines. The federal agency said the coronavirus delayed their decennial population count, which pushed the release of their data beyond the first round of the state’s constitutional deadlines to approve new card lines.

You can click on updated House maps here and Senate maps here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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