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Local lawmakers want 2020 Census data before IL district maps are final

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(WSIL) -- The 2021 redistricting process in Illinois is set to be the most unique in state history.

A big reason comes from Democrats drawing proposed legislative maps without using 2020 Census data, says John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Jackson says it's the first time in Illinois' redistricting process where state leaders didn't use census data. The pandemic pushed the release of those numbers until September.

MORE: Local IL lawmakers demand clarity in proposed district map

Instead, Democrats opted to draft the maps using the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Surveys (ACS).

"The differences are minute between the 2019 [ACS] than what the 2020 Census would look like," Jackson said. "But that's the Democratic side of the argument."

Jackson says Republicans make a solid case of their own because Illinois normally uses census data to draw maps. Census data is not required by the Illinois constitution, Jackson notes.

But census data is the most accurate way to draw maps, says State Rep. Paul Jacobs (R-Pomona). Jacobs says using ACS data can create unfair maps that can hurt minority groups.

"It can't be 20% off, 40% off," Jacobs said. "It has to be much more accurate. The census data gives us that."

State Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton), who is on the remap committee, says suggestions from Republicans went unheard. Severin hopes leaders can provide further clarity on the redistricting process.

"[People] have been waiting and asking for transparency and fair maps," Severin said. "It was very difficult to even read the boundary lines."

Democrats have also proposed a new map this week that aims to change the state's court district. It would be the first time since 1963 that Illinois saw a shift in its court districts.

RELATED: Senate and House Democrats propose new Illinois Supreme Court boundaries

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis), the former Massac County State's Attorney, says the move would complicate the court process because precedent follows the court.

"Redrawing district lines could potentially change precedent in a certain area of the state," Windhorst said.

If lawmakers can't agree on a map by June 30, they must form an eight-member commission, with four members of each party, no later than July 10. That commission would have to submit a map by August 10.

If no map is submitted by then, the Illinois Supreme Court would select two random members of different parties by September 1. The Secretary of State would then randomly draw one of the names to act as the ninth member of the commission.

That commission must send a finalized map by October 5 and must be approved by five members.

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Danny Valle

Danny Valle anchors News 3 This Morning on Saturday and Sunday and reports Monday-Wednesday at News 3 WSIL. He joined the team in 2017 as a morning producer, before becoming an anchor in 2018, and reporter in 2019. Danny graduated from SIU-Carbondale in 2015, earning a Bachelor’s in Electronic Journalism with a specialization in Sports Broadcasting.

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