ICPR asks Chicago City Council to open ward redistricting to public

With the redrawing of Chicago’s 50 wards scheduled for later this year, ICPR and a coalition of redistricting reform allies are asking aldermen to open up this historically secretive and highly political process to the public.

In past decades, the redistricting of Chicago ward borders has been done behind closed doors, thereby allowing the incumbent aldermen who have a vested interest in the outcome of the remapping to avoid public scrutiny and suggestions.

At the request of the Illinois Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, a coalition of which ICPR is a member, Ald. Richard Mell has introduced a resolution calling for transparency in the redistricting process. Mell is the chairman of the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics, which oversees the city’s redistricting, which must be done every year following the national Census.
The resolution states that the City Council will conduct the 2011 redistricting “in a transparent and accountable manner” by allowing residents to provide testimony and draft maps for consideration, holding 6 public hearings about redistricting and one hearing on any map submitted for consideration by the committee, and providing residents with mapping criteria and an explanation of any map sent to the full Council for approval.

As an advocate of transparency in government, ICPR supports this resolution. However, we will ask the City Council to go even beyond what is called for in this resolution by asking aldermen to hold at least 5 hearings, with two weeks’ notice, on any draft map being considered by the committee. In addition, ICPR wants the City Council to commit to not using political factors, such as incumbents’ home addresses, in the mapping process.

Mell’s committee plans to consider the resolution Nov. 1.

We encourage you to ask your aldermen to support a transparent and fair redistricting process. To look up your alderman and his or her contact information, please visit the City Clerk’s website.