Census data may change congressional district map

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Mike Bost

Depending on what the 2020 census shows, southern Illinois may lose a seat in the United States House of Representatives, The Associated Press reports.

That is because the 15th Congressional District currently represented by Republican John Shimkus of Collinsville has seen its population drop by about 14,000 in recent years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

A congressional district must have roughly 710,000 residents, and the census bureau estimates the 15th has only about 690,000. 

That could impact Monroe County residents because if Illinois loses that seat when the Democrat-controlled General Assembly redraws the congressional district maps, it could change who Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) represents or what district Monroe County resides in. 

Set to begin next year, redistricting in Illinois allows lawmakers to redraw maps after every census if needed. 

The Legislature appoints eight members, no more than four of whom may belong to the same political party, to a commission tasked with redrawing the maps. The redistricting must be approved by the House, Senate and governor. 

If the eight members of the commission cannot approve a plan, the Illinois Supreme Court must select two individuals from different political commissions to serve as tiebreaker. The Secretary of State then appoints one of those people to the commission.

Given the Democrats have a majority in state government, Republican leaders have expressed concerns about gerrymandering, which is the process of redistricting to favor one political party or class of voters.  

Republicans filed a joint resolution amendment earlier this year that would have created a 16-member independent commission that reflected “the ethnic, gender and racial demographics” of Illinois to redraw the maps, arguing this  would give “people the power to pick their legislators instead of letting lawmakers pick their voters.” 

The commission would have had seven members of each political major political party and two members with no party affiliation. The members would have been appointed by two Illinois Supreme Court justices, one from each party. 

The joint resolution amendment would have put that proposal to voters in November, as is required by the state’s constitution, but it never moved out of committee in the Illinois Senate despite receiving bipartisan support. 

The deadline for the legislature to rule on a constitutional amendment for this year’s election was May 3.

The census bureau will announce redistricting counts by March 31, 2021.

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