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Is Illinois Challenging Democratic Rhetoric About Redistricting?

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Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
Illinois lawmakers are in charge of drawing congressional and state legislative maps. It's one of the few states where Democrats have the power to create plans that help their party and hurt Republicans.

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, we talk about the ins and outs of redistricting in Illinois.

During the show, NPR Illinois’ Hannah Meisel and St. Louis Public Radio’s Eric Schmid and Jason Rosenbaum discuss how Illinois is one of a few states where Democrats have complete control over the process. And while Illinois Republicans haven’t exactly set the world on fire in elections in recent years, the decision to go forward with redistricting now is generating controversy for a number of reasons.

Some of the things discussed on the program include:

  • How the Illinois Democrats’ effort to create favorable maps for themselves conflicts with a national movement, primarily funded by left-leaning donors and groups, for “fair redistricting.”
  • Whether the maps that seem to be on a pathway to completion could be challenged in court because Illinois lawmakers aren’t using Census data. Those numbers won’t be available before a constitutionally mandated deadline.
  • The impact of redistricting on representation in the Metro East, a topic that Schmid explored earlier this month.
  • Why gerrymandering is not necessarily synonymous with irregularly shaped districts, something that Meisel discussed with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon earlier this year.
  • What Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who said during his 2018 campaign that he would “not sign a bill that is gerrymandered,” will do if the legislature sends redistricting plans that clearly help Democrats to his desk.

Missouri and Illinois have similar processes when it comes to congressional redistricting: Lawmakers end up passing a bill with a map, which the governor either signs or vetoes.

But Missouri’s state legislative process is substantially different: Commissions split evenly between the two parties get first crack at House and Senate maps, and appellate judges get responsibility for the processes if those bodies deadlock. State lawmakers in Illinois are responsible for drawing General Assembly maps.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Hannah Meisel on Twitter: @hannahmeisel

Follow Eric Schmid on Twitter: @EricSchmid

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.
Hannah Meisel covers Illinois government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She previously covered the statehouse for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.