Despite opposition, Democrats continue with proposed maps | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – With the end of the spring session for the Illinois Legislature just days away, it’s expected the Democratic supermajority will pass new district boundaries. 

Some advocacy groups oppose the maps that have been proposed so far.

Democrats released proposed maps late Friday and another release of Google Map files on Sunday. Hearings this week are getting feedback from various groups.

Griselda Vega Samuel with the group Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, quoted a Democrat-hired expert who said during a Tuesday hearing that using American Community Survey data was acceptable, despite being inaccurate.

“We urge this committee to release the data files so that the public can in fact see how much unequal representation you find acceptable,” Samuel said. “Why hide the data.”

Change Illinois, another advocacy group, estimates the difference between ACS data and the statewide population is nearly 42,000 people short.

“To exclude those people would be equivalent to excluding cities the size of Oak Park, Buffalo Grove, Quincy, or Rock Island,” the group said in a statement after the maps were released.

Jay Young, with the group Common Cause Illinois, urged lawmakers Tuesday to seek relief from the courts on the June 30 deadline Democrats are aiming for.

“You can back away from this ledge and hit the pause button,” Young said. “We can still appeal to the courts. I urge you, in the most strenuous way, please take that opportunity.”

Democrats say the map is fair and based on community input and ACS data, but acknowledge it’s not accurate data.

“The ACS estimate varies by just 0.3 percent from the state’s official population count released by the U.S. Census Bureau in April,” a statement from House and Senate Democrats said Friday.

State Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, said at Tuesday hearing they have to pass the Democrat-draw maps based on inaccurate data by June 30 to keep the process from possibly going to a commission that could result in Republican control of the process.

Longtime Illinois politics observer Kent Redfield said Democrats are hedging their bets.

“To pass a map with the data that they’ve got and then take their chances with the state supreme court and with federal district courts,” Redfield said in an interview.

Redfield predicts that Gov. J.B. Pritzker will give Democrats the maps they want.

“The Democrats have to pass the budget, deal with his legislative agenda, he’s not going to veto the map,” Redfield said. “So, that’s my expectation.”

The spring session ends on May 31. If lawmakers don’t pass maps by then, the governor or the Speaker of the House and Senate President could call a special session to approve the new boundaries for the governor’s signature.

If maps based on ACS data are passed, they could be challenged in court.

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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