Federal lawsuit seeks to overturn Chicago ward remap

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Federal lawsuit seeks to overturn Chicago ward remap

(Chicago) — A federal lawsuit filed today claims the new Chicago ward redistricting map violates the federal constitutional rights of Chicago voters.  The lawsuit seeks a neutral process to divide the wards equally by population in a manner that will be fair, impartial and protect minority voting rights.

The League of Women Voters of Chicago and 14 citizens from every part of the city challenge the City for imposing new ward boundaries – and changing the City Council members representing thousands of Chicago citizens – years before the next City Council elections in 2015. The suit also challenges the City for failing to divide the wards equally by population and for using  gerrymandered boundaries for some of the wards.

The plaintiffs contend that the City has no right to change the constituencies of elected City Council members before the next election without the consent of the people. The plaintiffs also argue that there is no justification for failing to divide the wards equally by population.

“The suit violates the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ by failing to divide wards equally by population,” said Thomas Geoghegan, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

The City rejected alternative plans offered by civil rights groups that would have retained the same or greater number of majority Black and majority Latino wards while dividing all the wards equally or nearly so by population. Instead, under the remap, some wards now have thousands more eligible voters than other wards.

The remap also resorted to old-fashioned gerrymandering, in violation of Illinois law that requires that electoral districts be as “compact and contiguous” as possible, the suit argues.

The suit asks that the Court restore the old (previous) ward map through the current term until the next electoral cycle (2015), and designate an impartial blue-ribbon commission or an individual special appointee to craft a new redistricting plan or plans, that will be fair, impartial, and protect the voting rights of racial minorities, and for selection either by the City Council or by a public voter referendum.

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