By Andrew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News
A new law requiring communities with similar demographics like language or race be kept together when Illinois’ political map is redrawn this Spring won Gov. Pat Quinn's OK Monday Monday. The law Quinn signed Monday had origins in Chicago’s Asian community after Chinatown’s population was split up during the 2000 redistricting. Leaders said that prevented their ability to significantly influence elections.
The new law, though, was created before the 2010 census numbers were tallied. The latest census figures show the state’s concentrated Hispanic population moving from Chicago to the surrounding collar counties. Illinois’ Asian population numbers, the fastest growing in the state, also swelled in the collar counties. Both of those population groups grew by more than 30 percent in the entire state during the past decade.
According to the state’s Constitution, districts must be “compact, contiguous and substantially equal in population.” The contiguous requirement should be easy to follow, according to political scientist Chris Mooney, but in order to keep populations of a certain ethnicity in the same districts, the districts could end up looking like an octopus.
“Districts look, they have looked pretty weird for various reasons — political reasons and trying to develop demographics profiles in particular,” said Mooney, a professor of political studies with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “But there’s only so much you can do given how many people live where and who they are.”
Population bloomed in Kendall County, for instance, by more than 25 percent during the past 10 years. Its Hispanic numbers grew, though that demographic still makes up a small percentage of the total population, according to Kendall County Democratic Party Chair Chuck Sutcliff. To group enough Hispanics together so they could have a significant impact on elections would take creative map drawing, Sutcliff said.
“It would have to be a strange, strange, (district.) Of course in redistricting the possibility of a strange looking representative area isn’t unusual. There have always been those kinds of unusual strange ties of one population to another,” he said.
You can read Andrew's full report at: http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/5273/minorities-could-have-more-influence-in-new-political-map-2/