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Gov. Pritzker says maps are fair, but local republicans push back

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Each decade, new maps are drawn in Springfield to determine what district you're in and who represents you.

On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker signed those new maps into law for the next decade.

But 13 News learns challenges regarding the maps from republicans, who say the maps aren't fair, means a lawsuit looms. And while the changes may seem subtle, new boundaries can have big implications, both in Illinois politics and for you.

"This isn't a personal thing on what's good for me and not good for somebody else," 89th District Republican State Representative Andrew Chesney says. "I reject that these are fair maps, that these are equitable, [and] that these represent the voice of the people of Illinois."

Chesney represents the Freeport area, and he wasn't the only local representative concerned. So is Tom Demmer, who hails from Dixon.

"There are some significant changes certainly throughout the Rockford area to legislative maps and to the relationships legislators have developed with their constituents," the 90th District Representative Demmer adds.

Chesney and Demmer say they expect legal challenges to the recently passed redistricting maps.

That's because questions of accuracy surround the data used to draw the maps.

"This ACS data has never been used in the history of our country to draw a legislative map," Chesney explains.

Normally, census data is used, but it's been delayed by the federal government because of the pandemic. So lawmakers in Springfield opted for ACS data, which stands for American Community Survey. It collects data about a person's lifestyle, for example how far they drive to work and household income.

"You're going to have some districts that are too large and some that are too small," Demmer says. "Rural areas, your margin of error increases dramatically."

Demmer says a court could order the maps to be redrawn as a result of litigation, but this isn't the first time republicans have challenged redistricted maps.

Governor Pritzker and democrats say the maps are fair and equitable.

The Governor released a statement on Friday morning that reads: “Illinois’ strength is in our diversity, and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government. These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.”

We did reach out to local Democratic State Representatives Dave Vella and Maurice West for comment. They were not available and declined respectively.

If the maps weren't passed by June 30, they would've gone to an independent commission to be decided, which has been the case in every redistricting, except for the last one.

The new maps won't take effect until the next election cycle in 2022.

To see if things are different in your area, we have a more detailed story of what the new maps look like here.

Richard Bodee

Richard Bodee is a reporter at WREX. He joined the 13 WREX team in June 2019 after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

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