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Democrats accused of “racial gerrymandering ” aimed at protecting white incumbents

MALDEF: Map dilutes the votes of a growing Latino population.

In federal court filings, Republicans and a Latino voting rights group presented alternatives to the state legislative districts drawn by Democrats and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

The GOP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)argue the map dilutes the votes of a growing Latino population.

The three November 10 lawsuits propose changes creating more Latino- and Black-majority districts in Cook County and the Metro East region.

“The September Map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 … by diluting the votes of minority citizens and by preventing such citizens from participating equally in the political process and having an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” attorneys for the GOP plaintiffs argued, reports Capitol News Illinois. “Among other problems with the September Map, the drafters committed a fundamental error by falsely assuming there is no racially polarized voting in Illinois and failing to properly consider race and ethnicity when drawing the districts in the map as required by the VRA.”

The MALDEF contends there is a long history of anti-Latino discriminatory practices in Illinois elections, particularly in Cook County, that have affected their ability to register, vote, “or otherwise participate in the democratic process.”

Those have included such things as gerrymandered districts to dilute Latino voting strength, lengthy residency requirements for voting in some jurisdictions, voter intimidation and harassment at the polls, and overt and subtle racial appeals in political campaigns.

The MALDEF alternative would create three additional majority Latino citizen voting-age House districts and one state Senate district on the North Side, in addition to two Latino majority House districts, and one Senate district, on the Southwest Side and southwest suburbs, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“Latinos comprise 11.2% of Illinois’ citizen voting age population,” MALDEF said. In contrast, it said under the Democratic map “Latino-majority districts comprise 3.3% of the House plan, 3.3% of the Senate plan and 3.3% of the Assembly as a whole.”

Democrats have until November 22 to file their response to the alternatives with the court. 

A combined hearing is tentatively set for the week of December 6; exact dates have not been announced.

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