SYCAMORE – The delay in local governments receiving U.S. Census data for 2020 is no longer as much of a cause for concern with recently approved DeKalb County code amendments needed to create new district voting maps, county officials say.
Sheila Santos, information technology director for DeKalb County, previously said the U.S. Census Bureau officially announced the delayed release in the state’s redistricting data from the 2020 census. It was originally slated to be released this month but that date was pushed back to Sept. 30, and Illinois state law currently says County Board districts have to be adopted by July, creating a kink in the county’s timeline to create new district maps, she said.
Santos previously said county officials took those parameters set in that ordinance, ran the numbers on all six of the county’s 2010 contender maps and geographical data that goes along with them and every single one failed to meet the criteria and therefore would not meet county code. However, Santos said during the Wednesday meeting the maps would meet the proposed code changes.
“That language would loosen it enough that it would allow for those to be met,” Santos said. “They wouldn’t necessarily be as close to those figures as would be the goal for a map in the future.”
The County Board voted unanimously to approve the redistricting code changes during the meeting. All 24 members were present via Zoom.
The County Board adopted a fair map ordinance a few years ago and that was added to county code, which set parameters that need to be met for redistricting. Some of the criteria that has to be met includes the county meeting a 3% quotient, a 5% ideal population and an 8% range variance.
DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said the proposed amendments change the code language slightly to strive to meet the goal but do not make it mandatory. He said the current criteria outlined in the county code must be met, otherwise the maps can’t be adopted.
“So while that is still the goal, the numbers that were outlined in the county code … it just provides a slight flexibility and is still keeping the spirit of what was put in that ordinance originally, with the intent to have as fair of a map as possible,” Gregory said.
Meanwhile, Santos said in March the county was doing some preliminary work with what they have so far and they will train the three people drawing the maps – the county’s administrator, the community development coordinator and highway engineer – on the tools that were developed to create the maps while they wait for the remaining census data to come in.
“It was our intention all along to change as little as possible so we can stay in the spirit of the original ordinance,” DeKalb County Board Chairman John Frieders said. " ... Hopefully we have solved that and that issue does not come up.”