Pritzker approves legislative cards despite strong criticism

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday approved new electoral maps for the legislature to use for the next decade, despite concerns from some groups, including some black and Latino voters, that they were not able to weigh and would not be fairly represented.

It was the second time that Pritzker approved maps drawn up by fellow Democrats despite his promise as a candidate in 2018 that he would veto anything done by politicians. He also signed an earlier version which Democrats approved in May, but which critics said was wrong because it was based on population estimates. Democrats redesigned them last month based on recently released census data and approved them along a straight-line vote during a one-day special session on August 31.

“Gov. Pritzker’s signing of the legislative cards gives a clear picture of the gravity of his ‘retrograde amnesia’ and his efforts to deceive the citizens of Illinois, ”Republican House Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said Friday, in a press release. “The governor now joins the multitude of Democratic lawmakers who lied to voters by campaigning and promising ‘fair cards’.”

Republicans and a Latin American civil rights group, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, have lawsuits pending in federal court in Chicago seeking to prevent the use of the new cards in elections. MALDEF lawyers say the cards violate federal voting rights law because they created fewer districts where voting-age Latinos make up the majority, although Latinos make up a higher percentage of the population. state than ten years ago.

Pritzker asserted the opposite.

“These legislative maps align with historic voting rights law and will help ensure that Illinois’ diversity is reflected in the halls of government,” Pritzker said in a prepared statement.

The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, which says it works for “the equitable advancement of marginalized communities,” argued that the new cards “weaken the voting power of members of black and Latino communities and largely ignore them. Asian-American and Arab-American communities ”.

CHANGE Illinois, which works for an independent map-drawing process, noted that Latino groups who have sued claim Latino power is diluted, that black activists have said the map does not create enough constituencies in age. to vote with a black majority; and that the Jewish communities on the north side of Chicago and the northern suburbs were divided.

“Despite all of this, and despite repeated claims that he wanted cards that accurately reflected the rich diversity of the state, Pritzker chose party loyalty over the people of Illinois,” the executive director said. from CHANGE Illinois, Madeleine Doubek.

Pritzker’s defense is that as a candidate in 2018 he favored the creation of an independent commission, and when Democrats with full control of the state government failed to do so, lawmakers have had to face a deadline of June 30 to complete the card. But June 30 was simply the date Democrats allegedly lost control of the process.

At this point, that would have fallen to a bipartisan commission of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans – the process critics want a federal judge to carry out. Democrats call this the real political process and want to avoid it because, among other reasons, a ninth member would be chosen at random to break any tie-breaking vote – potentially giving the GOP the final say.

“Politicians rarely have the chance to twice break a campaign promise,” said Republican Illinois Senate Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods. “I am deeply disappointed that Governor Pritzker has turned his back on the many minority organizations that have asked him to protect their voting rights set out in the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by vetoing this gerrymandered card.”

Political maps must be redrawn every 10 years after each census to reflect the evolution of the population and ensure the protection of voters’ rights. Neighborhoods must be compact, contiguous and of equal population, among other things.

Illinois Democrats have yet to vote on new congressional district boundaries, but with the state losing a House seat due to the loss of population, they are expected to remove a GOP-owned district. and try to make other districts more Democrat-friendly.

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Burnett reported from Chicago.


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