Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » As usual, Illinois finds itself in a pickle, but there are things that can be done if the courts approve
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As usual, Illinois finds itself in a pickle, but there are things that can be done if the courts approve

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021


The timing for the second set of new census results — the detailed demographic data that state redistricting officials need to redraw voting districts — remains unclear. That information is normally delivered to the states by the end of March.

“You should not expect it prior to July 30,” [Kathleen Styles, the bureau’s chief of 2020 census communications and stakeholder relations] said.

The delay ratchets up the pressure for states that are facing their own series of legal deadlines for the redistricting process in order to hold elections this year or next.


Even before Styles’ comments Wednesday, word had informally gotten out of the bureau and to redistricting experts that they should anticipate a late summer or early fall release date.

Some states took actions to extend their redistricting schedules once it became clear the pandemic could push back the data release. But several other states — such as Illinois, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine — still have deadlines on their books that now appear to be in jeopardy.

In addition to adjusting the deadlines for the maps themselves, states might also need to push back other deadlines on their electoral calendars, to give their map-drawers more breathing room to complete the redistricting process.

* Illinois’ redistricting deadline is in its Constitution, and changing it was not on the radar last spring. Here’s the relevant portion

In the year following each Federal decennial census year, the General Assembly by law shall redistrict the Legislative Districts and the Representative Districts.

If no redistricting plan becomes effective by June 30 of that year, a Legislative Redistricting Commission shall be constituted not later than July 10. The Commission shall consist of eight members, no more than four of whom shall be members of the same political party.

* The likely prospect of the June 30th deadline not being met has freaked certain people out and they’re jumping to immediate conclusions that could very well be wrong and should probably take a breath…


The delay could have serious implications for Democrats’ future hold on power and the 2022 elections. Redistricting maps, crafted once every ten years usually by the party in power, must be submitted no later than July 30 under the state’s constitution. Otherwise, mapmaking responsibilities fall to an eight-person, bipartisan commission that’s hand selected by the state’s four legislative leaders.

The prospects of a remap going to a bipartisan commission is looking likely, says Ryan Tolley, Policy Director at CHANGE Illinois, where he leads advocacy efforts for good government reform. A remap commission has only been convened four times since 1970, and they’ve typically been messy.

In three of those instances, the panel couldn’t agree to a plan and were forced to “randomly select the tiebreaker, either giving Democrats or Republicans control over the final map,” said Tolley.

* Shia is actually a voice of semi-reason in at least part of her story

Election attorney Michael Dorf expects House Democrats will have a workaround, using census estimates so it can meet the constitutional requirement to have a map drawn by June 30. “They know that the map will be challenged in the Supreme Court anyway. So they could have it drawn and by the time they’re in court, it could be adjusted based on the data,” he told Playbook.

Dorf is speaking from experience, having represented lawmakers whose districts have been rejiggered in a remap. Legal challenges can come from the opposing political party and from minority groups concerned that boundaries don’t allow for proper representation of their communities.

First off, there is this thing called the Senate. It’s not just all on the House. C’mon.

* OK, re-read that constitutional excerpt above. It doesn’t say that the General Assembly has to use the 2020 US Census data. It just says they have to draw a new redistricted map after a decennial census. They can conceivably pass a new map with old data or recent estimates and then, as Dorf says, draw another map down the road.

To avoid the three-fifths passage requirement if they can’t draw a map until after receiving the data after July 30th, they could pass some sort of cross-your-fingers stopgap, delay the 2022 primary into the summer and put off the map voting until January - if the courts go along. Or, they could just try to hold their super-majority votes together and get something done this summer.

But, of course, then there’s the whole Pritzker veto threat of a map that isn’t a “fair map,” so it’s not guaranteed to be done even if the courts play ball.

Also, while the new congressional maps aren’t subject to this state constitutional deadline, delaying next year’s primary would solve that particular problem.

Ain’t nothing ever easy in this state. Nothing.

…Adding… Somebody just pointed out this other big error in the Politico story…

If that deadline isn’t met, then a bipartisan committee must be formed. That would give Republicans a bigger say in a process that would otherwise be dominated by Democrats who hold huge margins in the chamber to determine how boundaries are drawn for state House and Senate seats, as well as for city and county elected seats.

Um, no. The General Assembly does not draw the boundaries for the Iroquois County Board, etc. That’s just ludicrous.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:30 am:

    This isn’t only an Illinois problem. Several states have elections this year, including New Jersey and Virginia.

  2. - JB13 - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    I have no doubt the Democratic majority will do what needs to be done to avoid a “constitutional crisis.”

    I also have no doubt that Gov. Pritzker will sign whatever map they send him.

    Much like Speaker Welch, it’s all about how you define “fair.”

  3. - Frank talks - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    Thanks Don another notch in the belt of your stellar historic career.

  4. - Too cute by half - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:41 am:

    “It just says they have to draw a new redistricted map after a decennial census. They can conceivably pass a new map with old data or recent estimates and then, as Dorf says, draw another map down the road.”

    If that’s the case, and we can use 2010 Census data for the remap, would that mean we get to keep the Congressional seat we would otherwise lose? If it’s “after the decienial census” and not “based on data of the decienial census”, seems like an unintended loop hole.

    I mean, obviously it’s very thin logic here but why not have a little fun today?

  5. - Geezus - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:42 am:

    Do the estimates break into small enough geographic divisions to use for Congressional and state legislative remapping? This would make me think that it will limited boundary drawing (maybe that is a more “fair” way, though).

  6. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:42 am:

    “Constitutional Crisis”

    Great, another word/phrase that will be over/mis-used to the point it’s rendered meaningless.

  7. - Commisar Gritty - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    You know the ILGOP will be making a huge deal about the bipartisan commission option despite the fact it was only late because of Trump’s blatently unconstitutional push to not count the undocumented populations.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    ===would that mean we get to keep the Congressional seat we would otherwise lose?===

    No. There’s this thing called reapportionment. Sheesh.

  9. - Commisar Gritty - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    @Flying Elvis
    In defense of the term constitutional crisis, it was overused because they were practically an every other month phenomena under the last wh occupant

  10. - Bruce( no not him) - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:46 am:

    “Constitutional Crisis”
    So, it’s Thursday? Don’t we have one of those every other day anymore?

  11. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:47 am:

    ==If that’s the case, and we can use 2010 Census data for the remap, would that mean we get to keep the Congressional seat we would otherwise lose?==

    No, the federal process is governed by the federal Constitution.

  12. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:48 am:

    New Jersey is going with existing map. VA has not decided per Daily Kos Elections. They had another option from Brennan center. Constitution doesn’t specify year. But since it doesn’t specify the census to be used would go that way. And a later primary.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    So it mirrors here comments;

    Read for comprehension. Projecting the Congressional malarkey as Rich even clarified in the post specifically to that, still have the “jump to concussion” silly.

    This is one, step back, wait, watch… even the governor should hold his powder. Sure he can reiterate all he wants about “fair maps”, but even a speculatory way to chime in on process right now won’t help anyone, fair maps or not.

    Prepare, but within the constitutional rails on the path.

  14. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    We had a good response rate so maybe we get lucky on apportionment.That won’t be out until April 30.
    I know of one Trump supported that wouldn’t answer because Trump was mad at census. It’s super anecdotal but there does seem to be a relation between county vote and response rate.

  15. - twowaystreet - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:55 am:

    The Latino caucus doesn’t seem to be in favor of using old data, so not sure how well the use old data method is going go for the dem caucus:

  16. - Guy Probably - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 10:56 am:

    The text says “if no redistricting plan is in place…”

    Could it be argued that the legislature just needs to propose a plan of action, ie how they intend to proceed once they get the complete data? Or must that plan be the new maps (which as noted could still be changed once data is finalized)?

  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:03 am:

    ===The Latino caucus doesn’t seem to be in favor===

    Um, that’s the city council. You’re jumping to huge conclusions there. Take a breath already.

  18. - Proud Sucker - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:07 am:

    “The Commission shall consist of eight members, no more than four of whom shall be members of the same political party.”

    The GA selects: 4 Dems, 2 Republicans, 1 Green, and 1 Libertarian. That meets the law, yes?

  19. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:18 am:

    Given the results of our recent elections, it is unlikely that even if the ILGOP was given unilateral control of the map that it would make serious difference in the ILGA given there super minority status.

    I know there are some out there claiming the map keeps them from power but the math does not support that. Illinois is one of the national leaders in elections where candidates run unopposed. That happens in both red and blue districts. Living in a red area for 20 years I cannot remember ever having a democratic candidate for the house to vote for and usually our senate candidate runs unopposed as well.

    If our elections were competitive, we would be much better off.

    The concern about maps is much ado about nothing.

  20. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    The Governor says he wants a fair map.

    The Speaker of the House says he wants a fair map.

    The GOP says they want a fair map.

    “We may need to have a bipartisan commission draw the map.”

    The horror!

  21. - Responsa - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:49 am:

    This informative discussion thread is why so many normal citizens hate politics and do not trust politicians. Almost everything related to governing and legislating increasingly feels slimy and manipulated. Not just Illinois–but definitely Illinois.

  22. - Marquee - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 11:51 am:

    1964 calling, let’s go large… at large, that is

  23. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 12:19 pm:

    This is a time for everyone to step up. Current law doesn’t say what a “fair map” process is. Even in the absence of federal data, how will the legislature ensure a “fair map” process? If the Dems are in charge now, what will they do? And if the Republicans were to delay the process and win the coin flip, what will they do?

    Lay out your plans and start explaining how your process is fair.

  24. - thisjustinagain - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    The FINAL map must use the current Census data, or it would render the clear Constitutional language and intent meaningless.

    The deadline is the deadline, and betting that ILSUPCT will allow any changes after the deadline is a losing bet; they take deadlines very seriously. There is also no provision to amend a temporary map stated or implied in the Constitution, and no provision for the late Census data, so legal challenges to any temporary map have a good chance at succeeding.

    The Illinois Constitution is hardly “in crisis” over this, since there is a defined plan to ultimately create the map. And this time Illinois politicians are not at fault; they are stuck waiting for the Feds to give them the legally-required data to do their jobs.

  25. - anon2 - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 2:53 pm:

    Would an at-large election be kosher under the 1970 constitution? If so, that could be a way to go, though I doubt Republicans would think so.

  26. - John Lopez - Thursday, Jan 28, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    Definitely for pushing back the 2022 primary from mid-March to late summer.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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