The Senate Committee on Redistricting convened its first hearing July 29 to receive testimony from witnesses on Illinois’ redistricting process, and the state’s history of gerrymandering legislative and congressional districts, according to Senator Tim Bivins.

At a public hearing at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, lawmakers heard testimony from a panel of experts who provided background on the federal census process and a historical perspective of redistricting in Illinois.

Former State Senator and former Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch provided information on the 1970 Constitutional Convention, where the current system of drawing legislative districts was established. A 1970 Constitutional Convention delegate, Netsch explained that the “coin flip” process used to select the tie-breaking member of the legislative redistricting commission was intended to force compromise among legislative leaders, and noted that the convention delegates never expected the tie-breaker to be used. Netsch commented that the drafters must have misunderstood the political backbone and gambling nature of politicians.

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