(The Center Square) – A new report that highlights the redistricting process in the U.S. gives Illinois the worst grade in the country.
The anti-gerrymandering group Common Cause gave Illinois an “F” grade, citing a lack of public participation that has routinely gotten in the way of producing political maps reflective of the state’s demographics. The state was sued for a version of their maps, with allegations of prioritizing partisanship over Black Illinoisans impacted by the drawn districts.
In one lawsuit, the East St. Louis Branch of the NAACP argued that in the Metro East area, concentrated areas of Black voters were split into three separate House districts solely for the purpose of protecting white Democratic incumbents.
Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data.
“Our overall concern was that at the end of the day, it is the politicians drawing the lines and not the folks who they seek to represent,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker admitted that gerrymandering is a concern.
“This is a national problem,” Pritzker said Wednesday evening. “If you’re going to solve redistricting and the problem of redistricting, you have to do it at the national level.”
The other states receiving a failing grade in the report were Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuna, Common Cause national redistricting director.
The report found that independent citizen commissions on redistricting were significantly more likely to seek public input, and integrate it into voting maps.
“Moving forward, it is critical that we center Illinoisans in the process by making it easier for people to participate and have their voices heard,” Young said.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).