Time to stand up against political maps

  • Madeleine Doubek

    Madeleine Doubek

Updated 5/25/2021 9:16 AM

In the past year, so many of us across the suburbs and beyond have banded together to protect our elections, to stand up for facts and science and civil rights for all. And now it's time to do it again, for ourselves and our neighbors, in our own backyards.

Power-hungry politicians in Springfield are proposing to carve up our communities so much it makes that 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle you conquered during lockdown look easy. No boundaries were provided, so there's no way to tell precisely where a district begins and ends.


When some of the schools in your community are in one political district and others are in another, that makes it that much harder to advocate for those schools with state elected officials. The same applies to getting help from Springfield to revitalize your community's downtown. It's harder to advocate for anything our communities need when they're divvied up like spoils among kings.

And in the next few days, Springfield politicians plan not just to carve up our communities, but to literally erase tens of thousands of us. Lawmakers drafted maps based on old sampling data from the Census Bureau we now know missed at least 41,877 people.

It's likely many of the people being missed in these maps are people in communities of color who historically have been underserved and underrepresented and those in our fastest-growing communities. Their votes and voices are being suppressed.

Where is their equitable representation? Where are the civil rights for these people?

Join us in telling Illinois lawmakers at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. hearings Tuesday and Wednesday to step back from the brink of this egregious failure and seek court approval to set aside deadlines to wait for the full census data. That's what leaders in California and Oregon have done. Michigan is seeking similar permission to set aside deadlines. Lawmakers in Maine have said they intend to do the same. Even Oklahoma, which already passed maps using the sampling data and not the full census, has committed to returning to revise maps once the census data arrives in mid-August.

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Together, we should urge Gov. J.B. Pritzker to honor his pledge to veto these carved-up community state representative and senate districts and use his power to push for court permission to wait for the census.

Last year, people all over Illinois in more than 400 community groups, worked hard for a full count. The state spent a record $47.5 million of our money to ensure everyone was counted in the census and now they're not going to wait for it?

Illinois' political leadership is proving to us once again they care more about their self interests than in representing all of us.

Everyone should count and everyone should be aware. Our elected officials unveiled the maps that will determine our representation for the next 10 years on a Friday night when few people were paying attention. Now they're cramming four hearings into two days before voting. Like their utter failure to meaningfully engage with and listen to people in Illinois communities during previous remap hearings few people knew about, this proposed districting of our communities is far from fair or transparent.

Illinoisans deserve better. On so many counts.

By joining together to speak up for ourselves and our neighbors, we can fight for what our children and families deserve for the decade to come.

• Madeleine Doubek is executive director of CHANGE Illinois, a nonpartisan nonprofit that educates and advocates for ethical and efficient governments.

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