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Is Illinois’ redistricting process influenced by Democrats’ control of the state legislature?

Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 7:00 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - In addition to losing roughly 80,000 people, the state of Illinois is losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican U.S. Congressman Mike Bost represents Illinois 12th Congressional District.

“A lot of those counties that I will probably inherit have a whole lot more deer population than human population,” said Bost.

Bost’s district makes up the southern portion of the state. The region currently includes 11 counties and part of Madison County.

With the state downsizing from 18 to 17 congressional seats, Bost anticipates his district will nearly double in size.

“We haven’t seen the map, but I would almost say my district will be a straight line across I-64 and everything south between Mississippi and Ohio,” he said. “That’s about 20 counties.”

In Illinois, the Republican spokesperson for the House redistricting committee says members are waiting on the official U.S. Census data to begin redrawing congressional district lines.

The data has been delayed since January due to the pandemic. Figures were released in mid-August for states to begin the redistricting process, but the official data isn’t expected in its new format until sometime in September.

With Republicans in the minority, State Representative Tim Butler says regardless of the official data, Democrats being in control of the Illinois state legislature may have the ultimate impact on how lines are redrawn.

“I think that’s going to be really interesting to see how the majority try to draw a map especially when it comes to downstate maps in Illinois,” said Butler.

When districts were redrawn a decade ago, Political Science professor Brian Gaines of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says the lines of the 13th district, which the school is in, were redrawn by Democrats to be a “winnable seat” for their party.

But, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis won the district with Democrats still holding on to the majority of U.S. House seats with 13 of the then 18.

“I’m not sure the Democrats as skillful as they are with drawing maps can get the Republicans down to four seats, but they will try to make life hard for the present Republican incumbents,” said Gaines.

New legislative maps released earlier this year are being challenged in court for being redrawn with unofficial census data.

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