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5 Ways Redistricting Impacts Illinois Elections


No matter which party is in charge, redistricting limits voter choice, lacks transparency and puts special interests first.

Redistricting – the process of redrawing the borders of legislative districts every ten years – is often done behind closed doors by politicians who redraw the map to favor their own political party. This process often leads to gerrymandering, whereby districts manipulated for political gain and, in the 2014 midterm election, contributed to nearly 60 percent of legislators winning without having a face a challenger.

CHANGE Illinois, a Joyce grantee, asked researchers Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at University of Illinois Springfield, and Cynthia Canary, former Executive Director of ICPR, to look at redistricting data over the past few elections and determine the impact.

Their findings, published in “Backroom Battles & Partisan Deadlock,” demonstrated the many ways redistricting unfairly impacts elections.

Five reasons redistricting is bad for our democracy:

  1. The process is not transparent and does not welcome public involvement. Maps do not face public review and scrutiny. The final maps are quickly adopted without time for examination and feedback.
  2. Partisan intent produces partisan outcomes. Each of the last four legislative maps was drawn to give the political party controlling the process an advantage in the subsequent election.
  3. The quality and nature of representative government has been diluted and distorted. The political party in control puts elections ahead of quality representation. While some districts remained congruent and contiguous, other districts were drawn by fragmenting or ignoring communities of interest. Some districts boundaries inappropriately crossed county and city lines.
  4. Partisan redistricting decreases voter choice in legislative elections. Maps drawn to decrease competitive elections consequently decrease voters’ ability to choose their representatives.
  5. Partisan redistricting places political party interests ahead of minority voting interests. Party interests are placed ahead of compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act. Partisan redistricting results in the detriment or exclusion of legitimate representation interests of minorities.

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