CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign’s population is growing, and that means how people vote could change.
Every 10 years, cities need to adjust their districts to match census data. The City of Champaign grew by nearly 10% since the 2010 census; therefore, they must redistrict. Champaign has until the city council elections on April 20 to rearrange the map.
It’s a change City Attorney Thomas Yu said voters should be aware of.
“We want to make sure that before the election comes up, where you’re going to actually vote, you are well aware what district you’re sitting in now and which elections you’re voting in,” Yu said.
Last month, Champaign residents had a chance to submit their own map using an online tool. With it, Yu said people can adjust the districts, see demographics change and help spread the growth throughout the city.
“That wasn’t evenly distributed among all five districts,” Yu said. “Now you have some districts that have a thousand or more people in another district. Other districts lost population.”
The city council uses these maps to help guide their decision on the final redistricting lines. Mayor Deborah Feinen said it is something the city has done even before online tools.
“Before we had them, we allowed… anybody in the city could draw a map and submit, at least the last few times I’ve been involved,” Feinen said.
She said with more people moving to Champaign, redistricting isn’t the only change. It could also mean more money for grants.
“If we think we’ve had significant growth, then that’s something we can do so that we can prove to the federal government that we’ve got more people and deserve more dollars,” Feinen said.
Feinen said one of the most exciting parts of the growth is more cultural diversity. She said more than 150 countries are now represented in the community.
“Not many downstate Illinois, probably none other than us, can say that,” Feinen said. “And so we are a very special place, and it’s really fun to be a part of that growth.”
The city council narrowed their choice of seven maps down to three on Tuesday. They need a majority vote of at least five to choose the new map before it can become law. Yu said they hope to have the whole process wrapped up in the next few months.