Simon Review Paper #2


Redistricting in Illinois is a challenging and contentious political game which must be played every ten years. The rules of the game consist of a maze of federal constitutional and legal requirements supplemented by the constitution and laws of the state of Illinois. The national laws provide a legal framework within which Illinois lawmakers must work as they redraw the map for the congressional and state legislative districts to meet the new population count every decade. Within the parameters provided to the state by federal law and court rulings, Illinois is like every other state and must meet the same requirements imposed on every state by the superiority of federal law and the national constitution. However, like most other things in the political sphere, Illinois has its own unique history and political culture and its own way of meeting the challenge. Our constitution, for example, is unique in the provision of the tie breaker system for breaking out of an impasse between the two parties. The very competitive political culture in Illinois, with our two almost equally matched parties, ensures that the decennial redistricting game will be very hard fought and closely matched, often going into the “overtime” provided by the tie breaker provision in the constitution, and often then challenged further in the courts. This paper details some of the major provisions, in both law and politics, for the redistricting process in Illinois and nationally.