The Redistricting Committee’s proposed new ward map continues to fragment the college student vote across six Evanston’s wards

That contrasts with the committee’s successful effort to preserve three majority-minority wards in the city.

Of 60 census tract block groups in Evanston, just 11 have more than the citywide average of 17% of the population in the 18-24 year old age group.

(Not all persons in that age group are college students, of course, but the age range is the closest proxy easily available in census data for the college student population.)

Census TractBlock Group% of population 18-24Ward
8094.02120.43%1st & 2nd
Of the 60 census tract block groups in Evanston, these 11 have greater than the citywide average of 17.04% of their population in the 18-24 age group.

And only five census tract block groups in the city have a college age population higher than 50%.

Yet the city’s new ward map manages to split those 11 high college age block groups across six wards — the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th — even though nine of the block groups are roughly continuous with each other in the northeast sector of the city.

Fragmenting the student population has been an explicit goal of city redistricting efforts in decades past as certain aldermen attempted to ensure that student views would not gain significant representation on the City Council and diminish the influence of homeowners living near the university campus.

While the committee conducting the redistricting process this year has not claimed that as a goal, its effort to make minimal changes in the existing boundaries while equalizing the population of each ward as much as possible has led to a similar result.

Combined with generally low student turnout for local elections, the proposed new ward map appears to ensure that college students will continue to have minimal impact on city elections.

In response to a question from Evanston Now, Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), the chair of the Redistricting Committee said college students now “have been encouraged to register in their home states.”

In fact, students are eligible to register to vote either in their home state or where they are attending school, although Republican lawmakers in some states are erecting barriers to their voting access.

The Redistricting Committee holds its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Room 2404 at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. To design a ward map based on creating blocks of voters is the essence of jerrymandering. Moreover it does nothing more than to reinforce “group” identities and pits one group against another. It is a shameful practice.

    1. First, it’s gerrymandering. Second, do you really want to have NW students dictating policy? What we have is bad enough already…

      1. Yes, let’s seek guidance and take notes from the red states on how to repress the college vote right here in Evanston! They might try to support Reid’s topless beaches initiative – must be stopped!

        1. How is it you claim repression as long as you have the right to vote, and can readily exercise it? It seems to me all you are really endorsing is the doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson of Separate but Equal. Don’t college students have a right to have an array of political opinions? Or do you think they should all be intimidated to share yours? If not, why is it necessary for them to vote as a block?
          The biggest problem with college students voting, is simply the great odds that they won’t be here after four years and won’t be subjected to whatever whim they voted for.

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