State Watch

Illinois GOP lawmakers sue Democrats for using population estimates for redistricting

Illinois GOP lawmakers sued their Democratic counterparts Wednesday for using population estimates to create new legislative maps.

The federal lawsuit from state House Minority leader Jim Durkin (R) and state Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie (R) alleges that Democrats used a process to draw the maps that was “arbitrary” and would disproportionately harm minority communities.

“The Plan ensures that historically undercounted minority communities will continue to be underrepresented and lose their right to an equal vote in the legislature,” the complaint says.

The General Assembly passed the legislative maps on May 28, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed off on the new maps on June 4.

The maps are created using the American Community Survey’s (ACS) five-year population estimates as the main source of data. Census data was delayed this cycle due to the coronavirus pandemic and haggling over former President Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to not count noncitizens.

According to the Census Bureau’s website, the ACS is sent to a sample of addresses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C.,  and Puerto Rico. But unlike the census, it does not count every person and does not provide an official count of the population.

“More than 50 independent groups asked the legislature not to use American Community Survey sampling estimates, and instead wait for the actual Census counts to be released, but the politicians in power ignored them,” McConchie said in a statement. “ACS estimates have never before been used for redistricting in Illinois, and we plan to challenge the legitimacy of these maps to the fullest extent of the law.”

The complaint notes that the Census Bureau says data from the survey is not a replacement for census data. Because of this, the suit argues that the new maps are unconstitutional.

The GOP lawmakers want a judge to declare the legislative maps unconstitutional and to mandate that Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D) and Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D) appoint a bipartisan commission to redraw district maps.

The complaint names Welch, Harmon and the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The board said it does not comment on pending litigation and will be requesting representation from the Illinois attorney general’s office.

The Hill has reached out to Harmon’s and Welch’s offices for comment.

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