Every ten years, Illinois redraws its federal, state, and local legislative district maps. This process is meant to ensure that as populations grow and change, every Illinois voter can have equal representation and equal voice in government.
We’re fighting for fair, transparent, and equitable redistricting at every level — advocating for legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act to help end partisan gerrymandering, bringing Illinois residents to testify at public hearings, and telling our mapmakers the story of communities across Illinois.
Illinois State Legislative and Senate Districts
In Illinois, redistricting is controlled by the state legislature.
IN THE STATE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, the state legislature passes a plan as a statute, subject to gubernatorial veto. If these districts are not approved, an eight-member backup commission, made up of four members of each party, takes over. If this commission fails to pass maps, the Illinois Supreme Court nominates two potential members of different parties, and the Secretary of State randomly selects one to add to the commission. This nine-member commission is then responsible for passing a state legislative map.
IN THE CONGRESSIONAL PROCESS, the state legislature passes a plan as a statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
When partisan politicians control the mapmaking process, we’re especially vulnerable to gerrymandering — which is why it’s so important we push our lawmakers to be transparent and consider public testimony every step of the way.
Mapmakers must prioritize:
- Districts must comply with the provisions of the US Constitution and Voting Rights Act and keep districts reasonably equal in population.
- Keeping communities of interest and political subdivisions whole.
- Maximizing the number of politically competitive districts
Districts may not be drawn:
- To protect one or more incumbents, declared candidates, or political party.
- With intent or effect of denial/abridgement of voting rights or vote dilution because of race or membership in language minority group.
In Illinois, ongoing litigation may impact the final maps.
Why Redistricting Matters for Illinois
When done fairly, redistricting is a chance for political power to be equitably distributed across different communities, making sure everyone has a seat at the table.
Unfortunately, redistricting has historically been conducted behind closed doors with little to no public input, meaning they don’t have an accurate picture of what our communities look like. Even worse, when politicians have the power to draw electoral maps, they manipulate district lines to divide or pack together certain populations, keeping themselves and their party in power. It’s called gerrymandering – and it’s a major threat to our democracy.
Key Dates For Illinois 2021 Redistricting
The legislature must draw all new districts except the federal congressional districts by June 30th. If they fail to approve new maps by then, a bipartisan commission is created and takes over the process.
Hearings are held across Illinois. When the legislature receives the federal Census data, they use that and public input to create draft maps. Once these draft maps are released, they hold hearings to get public feedback and revise the maps, before sending a finalized version to the Governor’s desk, who can veto or approve.
Public hearings have officially begun in Chicago! Join us at an upcoming hearing:
- Public Hearing (virtual): September 24 at 6:00 pm, livestream, sign up to testify
- Public Hearing (virtual): September 28 at 7:00 pm, livestream, sign up to testify
- Public Hearing (virtual): September 30 at 7:00 pm, livestream, sign up to testify
- Final Public Hearing (virtual): October 1 at 6:00 pm, livestream, sign up to testify
To submit written or spoken testimony, please sign up above or visit https://chicagoswards.org/public-hearings.
For more information on testifying, see the state website here: https://chicagoswards.org/your-submissions.
Illinois Redistricting Resources
Use these resources to learn more about how you can get involved in fighting for fair districts and stopping gerrymandering in Illinois.