OUR VIEW: Lawsuits over legislative maps sadly justified

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HERALD & REVIEW EDITORIAL BOARD

An Illinois politician breaking a campaign promise is practically as certain as a sunrise.

That doesn’t make the decision any less disappointing. It also doesn’t mean the politician won’t be held accountable.

J.B. Pritzker campaigned for governor calling for an independent panel to establish the redistricting map, pledging he would veto any maps drawn by politicians. Earlier this month, he signed a bill with new legislative district boundaries that were drawn and approved by Democrats who control state government.

Critics say Democrats drew the boundaries behind closed doors and used flawed data. Democrats used population estimates from the American Community Survey rather than U.S. Census Bureau data, which is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Democrats responded there wasn’t time to wait for the census figures because maps must be completed by June 25. But that date is simply when they lose complete control of the process. In addition, full data for each district hasn’t been released.

GOP House and Senate minority leaders Rep. Jim Durkin and Sen. Dan McConchie filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago against House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch, Senate President Don Harmon, Pritzker and state board of elections officials.

The lawsuit seeks to have the maps declared unconstitutional and voided, and asks a judge to direct Welch and Harmon to appoint members to a bipartisan redistricting commission that would draw and approve new maps after official census data is released in August.

Another lawsuit was filed last week by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. That expands the source of objections to the map to the very groups whose voting rights Democrats say they are protecting. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is one in excess of 50 human and civil rights organizations opposed to using the American Community Survey numbers.

Democracy is a matter of faith. If we’re given reason to believe democracy doesn’t exist, that can fester into total doubt of the system. Now, as tiring as it is to regularly have election issues going to court, that’s not going to damage democracy. Rather, the damage is done when promises are forgotten or ignored.

When it comes to Illinois’ legislative map, we need a do-over.

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June 15, 2021 at 09:16PM

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