Every 10 years, Americans engage in an exercise meant to promote fair representation in Congress and our state legislatures. Redistricting is the act of drawing new legislative maps, adjusting boundaries to accommodate population shifts documented by the U.S. Census. Its purpose: To protect the value of your vote.

In Illinois, though, redistricting is controlled by politicians, whose priorities are incumbent protection and partisan advantage. The result? Broken communities, misshapen districts, elections that attract only one candidate because the outcome is already determined.

The completion of the 2020 census begins a process that will shape the maps for the next decade.

The Better Government Association and other good government advocates have campaigned for years for a constitutional amendment that would assign redistricting to an independent panel that puts voters first. That effort has been stymied by yes, the politicians.

So the BGA commissioned its own Illinois maps using estimated 2019 population figures and drawn according to principles of nonpartisan redistricting. This project explains what we learned — some of it predictable, some not. (For a deeper look at how we did it, see the About This Project page.)

Keep in mind that these are not the only maps that could have been drawn by applying the same principles. Public input — an important step in fair redistricting, but one we omitted here — can help shape district boundaries as citizens weigh in on how the maps might affect their communities. The BGA maps are a simulation, not a proposal for 2021.

To get started: Familiarize yourself with the maps below. Use the dropdown to switch between Congress, the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. Type an address into the search bar to locate it on the map, or simply click on a location. On the left, you’ll see the current district, drawn by state lawmakers in 2011; on the right, the district on our map. Zoom in and out for a closer look. Compare and contrast the BGA maps with those drawn in 2011. Then read on.

Questions? Email us at fairmaps@bettergov.org

Can’t see the graphic above? View it in another window.