A leading Latin American civil rights group alleges that the legislative maps passed by Democrats in Illinois this spring have been misallocated. The revised cards Democrats sent the governor earlier this month aren’t any better.
The Democratic Qualified Majority passed new legislative limits in late May before final data for those purposes was released by the U.S. Census. Final census data has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawsuits against the maps were filed, claiming the maps were based on estimates and not block-level data.
After the U.S. Census released final data in August, Democrats called a special session to revise the maps. And, as they did in the spring, they got no support from Republicans as various civic groups urged lawmakers to slow down.
These revised maps have now been sent to the governor, despite an ongoing litigation.
Ernest Herrera, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, said they filed a lawsuit in support of a legal challenge in federal court last week because the Democrats’ card harms to the political strength of the state’s growing Latin American population.
“When everyone has grown to a lesser degree or even decreased in population, Latinos actually have the ability to elect any candidates they want, that ability is reduced,” Herrera said.
MALDEF also filed a complaint against the cards in June.
“The population districts eligible for Latino voters who are in the majority, above 50%, have moved from the map that was in place for the last decade to the map that was just approved in August,” he said. Herrera said.
Much like they did in the spring, Democrats voted this summer for revised legislative maps hours after revealing the proposed lines, and that’s a problem, Herrera said.
“Normal people cannot have seen what these cards look like within a day’s notice to be able to give their opinion on the cards,” he said.
Herrera said Illinois, the nation’s leader in putting up new maps, is a red flag.
“So being the first to come out in that direction isn’t necessarily good and, in fact, that partly explains why there was a potential violation of the Voting Rights Act in the August Cards,” Herrera said.
It’s unclear when a federal panel of judges will rule on a summary judgment motion.