The Chicago Elections Board ruled Feb. 1 that new ward changes will not go into effect until 2015, clarifying some of the confusion over recent district revisions.
Under the board's ruling, Chicago's current boundary lines will still apply for the upcoming ward committeeman elections, set for March 20. In addition, any special elections that take place before 2015 will also be subject to old boundary lines.
On Jan. 19, the Chicago City Council voted 41-8 for a new map that dramatically shifts many of the city's wards, creating 17 predominantly Black districts (two fewer than currently) and 13 majority Latino districts (three more). City officials have since debated how to best to implement the citywide shifts.
"It takes time," election board spokesman Jim Allen told the Chicago Sun-Times. "You can't just flick a button. You have to check every block and every street address."
Allen said that with 1,700 polling places and 2,369 Chicago precincts, it would be impossible to restructure citywide voting efforts by March 20.
Still up for debate is how the city will handle non-election-related issues such as zoning changes, liquor license moratoriums and city service requests.
"It's still really up in the air," Max Bever, director of communications for Ald. Tom Tunney, told Windy City Times. "At this time, [the aldermen] are working on clarifying and amending that original ordinance that was filed with the city clerk about when these boundaries go into effect."
Bever expects most issues to be clarified during Chicago's next city council meeting, slated for later this month, although he did say some items might not be nailed down until March.
As the redistricting process continues, some worry that Chicagoans living in redrawn wards might be ignored; reigning aldermen must balance continuing to serve current wards and drumming up support in new electorates.
Ald. Pat O'Connor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's City Council floor leader, told the Chicago Sun-Times protecting those citizens will be a priority.
"We want to make sure portions of communities don't get left out of consideration for infrastructure improvements based on incumbency and new wards versus old wards," O'Connor said.