Q&A: Sen. Barickman On Republican Redistricting Concerns | WGLT

Q&A: Sen. Barickman On Republican Redistricting Concerns

Mar 29, 2021

Many Illinois Republicans are calling for an independent redistricting process. This comes amid uncertainty when data from the U.S. Census Bureau will be available.

Jason Barickman of Bloomington is the Republican spokesperson for the Senate Redistricting Committee. With super-majorities in both houses, the Democrats control redistricting. Barickman said Democrats should wait for accurate data to draw the maps that will be used for the next decade. Southern Illinois and Northern Chicago are among the areas the Senate Redistricting Committee will discuss in coming days.

WGLT spoke with Barickman about what Republicans are prioritizing as the process continues.

What's the approach you and your party plan to take as we get further into this process?

The public has been very clear in demanding that the state use an independent commission in drawing their maps. The reality is that lawmakers should not be drawing their districts, and they shouldn't be picking their voters. The second component is the data and the accuracy of the data. The Democrats, some Democrats, seem very focused on proceeding with a partisan map that uses inaccurate data this spring. And they're doing it over the objections of a multitude of community groups and activists who have spent years of their life on gathering census data and want us to use an independent process that uses accurate data.

Given the June 30 deadline, do you see the Democrats backing down from using some other form of data instead of waiting for the census?

By using bad data, they put at risk constitutional issues. The reality is that the courts have already found that using bad data is unconstitutional. And it's unfair to the communities who rely on accurate maps. So, again, I think the only reason why the Democrats are proceeding down this path of drawing a partisan map by June 30, is to fulfill their partisan goals.

You mention the courts have struck down having used bad data. But in a year like this, where there's been a pandemic and everything going on in the census has been delayed, is this a different year than those previous times?

It's a different year, certainly, from the pandemic, but that doesn't give rise to why we would violate the Constitution. The Census Bureau is working tirelessly to get data to the states. We anticipate it here in a few months. I think it's important to use that data. Think of this, the federal government spent some $15 billion gathering census data. Gov. Pritzker went all around the state, he spent maybe $30 million echoing to people all around the state the importance of obtaining census data so that individuals could be fairly represented in their districts. Yet, here we are, with Democrats proposing to not use that data and use something that is wholly inaccurate and unconstitutional. The public has long stood up and said they're tired of that. They want independence. They want fair maps, and this is our opportunity to do that.

You mentioned the data that they're planning on using being inaccurate. What makes you say that?

Federal census data is a count of the country's population, and it's broken down at the most local level. And that's the data for which we have historically used to draw our maps. The Democrats won't tell us what data they're actually going to use, although they've hinted it using something called an American Community Survey sample data. The sample data looks across the country and tries to make determinations of trends and samples based on small samples of the population. It's wildly inaccurate as compared to the census data. And that's the reason why community groups and minorities and others have long said it's really important that you use accurate data, so that principles like One Person, One Vote and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution can be upheld through that use of accurate data.

Preliminarily, what do you think the results of redistricting are going to mean for your constituency, and for the Bloomington area?

Ultimately, where those district lines lie are either going to be drawn by politicians as they've done in the past where they're drawing the maps and picking their voters, or it's going to be drawn through an independent commission that uses key principles in drawing independent maps, things like making sure districts are compact and contiguous, that racial minorities are appropriately considered and represented, communities of interest remain together. If lawmakers draw maps, we know that they're going to prioritize the location of incumbents. If the citizens of the state are prioritized, we're going to have maps that adequately represent them.

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