(Chicago, IL) — March 7, 2011. At a ceremony at the Chinese American Service League, in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, Governor Pat Quinn today penned a new law that aims to protect the voting rights of minority communities in the Illinois legislative redistricting process.
“This new law will help ensure that racial and language minority groups throughout our state are able to elect leaders accountable to their interests and concerns,” said Quinn.
The law, Senate Bill 3976, protects the voting rights of racial and language minority groups in Illinois by helping prevent a community’s electoral identity from being weakened by division into multiple legislative districts. The new law allows legislative districts to be drawn to create crossover districts, coalition districts or influence districts.
A crossover district includes a racial or language minority group that totals less than a majority of the voting age population, but is large enough to elect the candidate of its choice in coalition with other voting blocks. A coalition district has several racial or language minority groups that may join together to elect a candidate. Finally, an influence district permits a racial or language minority to influence the outcome of an election, even if its preferred candidate falls short.
The new law requires a minimum of four public hearings before the legislature approves a redistricting plan.
“As we move forward with the redistricting process, this important new law gives us the tools and public input needed to create a map that is fair and representative of the people of Illinois,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, the chief House sponsor of the legislation.
The Chinatown neighborhood is currently divided into four city wards, three state senate districts, four state representative districts and two county board districts.
Groups endorsing the bill, included: the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, the Chinese American Service League, the Asian American Institute, the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, the United African Organization, the Resurrection Project, and the United Congress of Religious and Community Organizations.