Manifolds, Manolos and Manure
Fresh out of college I donned my designer heels and J. Crew suits and walked the sacred halls of the Illinois capitol. My tenure at the capitol started shortly after the 2000 remap. Like many of my colleagues, I wanted nothing more than to be in Springfield during a remap year. I wanted to review population data. Demographics. Population shifts. I wanted to help create districts that were not gerrymandered or designed for political gamesmanship. However, I left the Statehouse for the Farm Bureau before the 2010 census and subsequent remap. Ten years later, the 2020 remap is nearly upon us.
Constitutionally, Illinois legislative districts are required to be “contiguous and reasonably compact.” Illinois law requires legislative districts to allow for racial or language minority communities to elect or influence the election of candidates of their choice.
The state isn’t the only group redrawing district boundaries. County boards will also redraw their districts.
Data collection for the 2020 census ended in September. As that window closes another one opens. Counties, like Cook that operate under the commission form of government, will have until May 31, 2021 to redistrict their county board boundaries. With the commission form of government, voters elect commissioners by district.
The redistricting process consists of redrawing district boundary lines based on the census’ new population figures. Redistricting is designed to ensure that each district has an equal number of inhabitants, complying with the constitutional tenet that each voter has an equal say.
In addition to redistricting, counties can use this time as an opportunity to make additional changes to the government structure, including:
- Number of districts
- The number of individuals representing a district
- Whether members are elected by district or at large; seventy-six percent of Illinois counties elect their representatives by district, including Cook County
- Number of total board members
With the limited timeline due to the census response date being pushed back to the end of September, redrawing district boundaries is likely to be a top priority for many county boards. Counties, like Cook with a County Executive, is required to hold a public hearing on the redistricting plan.
The public hearing offers individuals an excellent opportunity to share their opinions and ideas for the maps. Individuals can also send letters and draft op-eds for local papers. Individuals can even draw their own maps as an easy way to share their perspective or ideas for the district boundaries.
Farm Bureau policy #110 (Local Government) supports efforts by local governments, County Farm Bureaus, and other organizations to increase public participation in the overall functions of local government.
Cook County Farm Bureau is excited to be an active participant in Cook County’s upcoming remap. We’ll monitor the proposed district boundaries and submit comments and share alternative solutions.