50 State Report: Illinois Earns Failing Grade for Redistricting from Common Cause

Illinois earned lowest grade nationally for transparent and inclusive process 

CHICAGO — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.  

Illinois earned the lowest grade in the nation: an F. The report found Illinois’ lack of public participation has routinely gotten in the way of producing maps reflective of the state’s demographics. Most recently, the state was sued for a version of their maps, with allegations of prioritizing partisanship over Black Illinoisans impacted by the drawn districts.

“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.” 

Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria. 

“Redistricting is successful when people have influence over their voting districts,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “However, too many leaders in Illinois have prioritized their own interests over the will of the people, which is reflected in our grade. Moving forward, it is critical that we center Illinoisans in the process by making it easier for people to participate and have their voices heard.” 

Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control. 

The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).  

The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mia Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy. 

To view the report online, click here.