‘Great news for us:’ DeKalb County officials give redistricting update following recent Pritzker-signed law

The County Board adopted a fair map ordinance a few years ago. That was added to county code, which set parameters that need to be met for redistricting

SYCAMORE – With Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s recent signature for a state law, DeKalb County officials received more time to create new district voting maps as they continue to await 2020 U.S. Census data to come in.

Sheila Santos, information technology director for DeKalb County, said Pritzker signed a bill into law a week ago that included a provision that allows for delay in the deadline for counties to reapportion their district voting maps.

“Which was great news for us,” Santos said.

The update comes after the DeKalb County Board unanimously approved in April 2021 county code amendments needed to create new district voting maps.

Santos 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 we now have until Dec. 31 to complete the process and adopt our map,” Santos said Thursday.

Illinois state law previously said County Board districts had to be adopted by July, originally creating a kink in the county’s timeline to create new district maps, Santos said.

“I don’t think it’s as much of a burden, since we don’t have those deadlines looming as well,” Santos said Thursday, referring to primary election dates in the state being delayed as well. “Since those are all pushed back, it kind of helped with our redistricting as well.”

The County Board adopted a fair map ordinance a few years ago. 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.

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 had said the maps would meet the then-proposed code changes to “loosen it enough” to allow the criteria to be met.

Meanwhile, Santos said the county continues some preliminary redistricting work with what they have so far. County officials said back in March 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.

“I think the key factor here is that, with the state and the governor allowing us this delay, we’re able to wait for that census data, which is going to be the most accurate population data we can have at this point in order to redistrict,” Santos said. “So that will allow us to create a more fair map.”

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon covers local government and breaking news for DeKalb County in Illinois. She has covered local government news for Shaw Media since 2018 and has had bylines in Daily Chronicle, Kendall County Record newspapers, Northwest Herald and in public radio over the years.