October 22, 2016
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Illinois Congressional Redistricting Map Still Under Wraps

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — For the second time in 10 days, the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have released a redistricting map only to pull it off their website, the newspaper The Quincy Herald Whig reports.


A congressional remap plan was available on the Illinois Senate site Thursday and early Friday, but the links were dead by mid-morning. A similar link to the state Senate redistricting plan was pulled last week.


“The congressional map has not been finalized. The public isn’t served by releasing an incomplete plan,” said Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.


Illinois is losing one of its 19 U.S. House seats because of slowing population growth. In the map that appeared Thursday, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock’s 18th District would extend farther west to include all of Adams, Hancock and Pike counties. U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling’s 17th District would be stretched northward to the Wisconsin border.


Phone calls to congressional offices on the map were not immediately answered.


Meanwhile, Democrats are in the driver’s seat during redistricting, but the Republicans have released their own political boundary map for the state House and Senate.


The GOP proposal was unveiled Thursday to demonstrate simpler and fairer ways to handle redistricting.


“Our goal throughout this process has been a fair map that complies with the Illinois Constitution,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.


Democrats first released proposed House and Senate district maps late last week, but Latino groups — including the influential Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund — complained that they didn’t sufficiently maximize the number of Hispanic voters in some districts. Others have said the Democrats’ maps fairly balance the political interests of Latinos against those of other minority groups, such as blacks.


Senate Democrats later Thursday released a revised map that increased the number of majority black districts to eight, up from the seven in their first map of the state’s 59 Senate districts. A proposed five majority Latino districts remain, although some saw their percentage of voting-age population either increase or decrease.


House Republican Leader Tom Cross said the Republican map would do a better job of protecting the rights of minorities than the Democratic map. Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, said the Republicans worked with Latino groups and noted the state’s Latino population has grown more than any other ethnic group during the past 10 years.


The GOP said its self-styled “Fair Map” would create 12 majority Latino House districts and 18 majority black districts with more than 50 percent of the voting age population.


Republicans, who have little to no say in what maps the Democrat-controlled Legislature will send to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, weighed in Thursday with their own plan for redrawing the state’s political boundaries that they say creates more heavily Latino and black districts.


An alternative map also could help strengthen any long-shot, future legal challenge they might mount of whatever new state legislative district map is ultimately approved.


“There is some belief that this could make a difference in our court challenge,” said Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon. He said GOP lawmakers don’t intend to offer an alternative congressional map to whatever Democrats produce.


The Democrat map will pit 19 House Republican incumbents against each other and six Democrats. The Republican map would pair 17 Republicans and 17 Democrats against each other.

STORY TAGS: Illinois , congressional redistricting , Hispanic News, Latino News, Mexican News, Minority News, Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racism, Diversity, Latina, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality

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