SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Illinois Democrats revised their initial redistricting draft maps on Thursday night, in part to “keep more of the Orthodox Jewish community united” and “to accommodate the concerns of Republicans.”
“The changes we made not only reflect testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public, but also include revisions to address concerns raised by Republicans,” Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) said in an emailed statement.
The initial maps, which were unveiled last Friday night, lumped several incumbent Republicans into districts with their neighboring colleagues, setting up a number of primary showdowns that would have forced several incumbents out of elected office.
A statement from House Speaker Chris Welch’s office said, “A number of those districts have been reconfigured to accommodate the concerns of Republicans.”
Sources close to the redistricting process expect the updated maps to start moving through the legislature as early as this Friday.
Several community groups, including Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Black, and voting rights organizations, voiced concerns about how the initial maps were constructed behind closed doors or blended together with the use of voter data.
Democratic leadership says the second draft of the redistricting maps addresses some of those concerns raised in committee hearings over the last few days.
The groups Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting and Agudath Israel of Illinois were two advocacy organizations to successfully lobby for changes in the new maps.
“The revisions will keep more of the Orthodox Jewish community united,” a statement from Welch’s office said. “The revised legislative map also restores the southern part of the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago to its current legislative district following feedback from community members asking for that change.”
The new maps did not win over House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who blasted the revised maps in an emailed statement sent roughly 45 minutes after they were published.
“Round two of the House Democratic legislative maps are as dishonest as the ones released last Friday,” Durkin said. “The House Democrats turned their back on Illinoisans and every advocacy group who has an interest in honest government. Despite the flowery rhetoric about these changes, the Illinois House Democrats allowed their members to draw their own legislative districts with phony data. It is now on Governor Pritzker to live up to his pledge in 2019 and veto this poor excuse for democracy.”
Several other advocacy groups urged the legislature to wait for the release of the full U.S. Census data before approving district lines. The federal agency said the Coronavirus delayed their decennial count of the population, which has pushed the publication of their data beyond the first round of the state’s constitutional deadlines to approve new map lines.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.