Reject Partisanship, Redraw Voting Maps
Lawmakers should hold public hearings, create competitive districts serving the voters.
Although the court did not specify how the legislature should redraw the maps, the League of Women Voters urges lawmakers to choose a method that will minimize undue partisanship. The League filed a brief in the case offering possible ways to accomplish that.
The Wisconsin constitution gives the legislature the responsibility of redistricting, which takes place every ten years after the census. Unfortunately, when you have one-party rule, as was the case in Wisconsin in 2011, the majority party is able to “choose the voters” by drawing meandering district boundaries designed to include some voters and exclude others.
The plan should also provide for public input. Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency is advised by a nonpartisan commission and must hold at least three public hearings about the plan in different regions of the state and report on the hearings to the legislature. The legislature then brings the redistricting bill to a vote shortly after receiving the report. Only corrective amendments are allowed. If the initial plan is rejected, the agency must submit a second version within 35 days. Again, the legislature votes, with only corrective amendments allowed. There is plenty of time for such a process to take place in Wisconsin before the court-ordered deadline of November 1.
Since its creation in 1980, the Iowa process has operated smoothly and with the support of both parties. Each decade the legislature has enacted the first or second proposed plan. No plan has been challenged in court, saving Iowa tax payers millions of dollars in litigation fees.
Iowa’s plan has resulted in some of the most competitive districts in the nation, offering voters a choice of two or more viable candidates. In Wisconsin, none of our eight congressional districts is considered competitive, and Common Cause in Wisconsin reported in 2016 that just one in ten of our legislative districts could be considered competitive. That leads to uncontested elections and less choice for voters.
There are currently proposals before the Wisconsin legislature to adopt the Iowa plan. Lawmakers should do so this session. They also should apply the plan now to redraw the current, unconstitutional districts in a way that will give voters confidence that they are not being manipulated by politicians seeking an unfair partisan advantage.
Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The League welcomes women and men across the state as members. With 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin and 800 affiliates across the county, the League is one of the nation’s most trusted grassroots organizations. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.
More about the Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts
- Data Wonk: US Supreme Court Wrong on Redistricting? - Bruce Thompson - May 31st, 2017
- Op Ed: Save Taxes With Nonpartisan Redistricting - Andrea Kaminski and Lindsay Dorff - May 26th, 2017
- Data Wonk: Why GOP Backs Gerrymander - Bruce Thompson - May 24th, 2017
- Data Wonk: State’s Political Map At Issue - Bruce Thompson - May 18th, 2017
- Rep. Peter Barca Statement on Attorney General Appeal of Redistricting Decision - State Rep. Peter Barca - Feb 24th, 2017
- Fair Elections Project calls upon Legislature to focus on fair map drawing process - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Feb 24th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: GOP’s Redistricting Lawyers Are Big Donors - Matt Rothschild - Feb 6th, 2017
- Op Ed: Reject Partisanship, Redraw Voting Maps - Andrea Kaminski - Feb 3rd, 2017
- Rep. Peter Barca Statement on Assembly Organization Committee Secret Ballot - State Rep. Peter Barca - Feb 2nd, 2017
- Court Watch: Court’s Redistricting Order A Problem? - Bruce Thompson - Feb 1st, 2017
- Rep. Hesselbein Calls for Open, Transparent, and Public Process for Drawing New Legislative Lines - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Jan 27th, 2017
- Wisconsin Federal Court Permanently Blocks State Redistricting Plan - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Jan 27th, 2017
- Data Wonk: 2016 Election Results Prove Gerrymandering - Bruce Thompson - Dec 28th, 2016
- Plaintiffs call for new maps for Wisconsin legislative district - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Dec 21st, 2016
- Data Wonk: Measuring Wisconsin’s Gerrymandering - Bruce Thompson - Dec 7th, 2016
- Sen. Taylor statement on federal court ruling against Republican gerrymandering - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Nov 21st, 2016
- Statement on Redistricting Ruling - State Sen. Chris Larson - Nov 21st, 2016
- Federal Court overturns unconstitutional gerrymandering of Wisconsin legislative districts - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Nov 21st, 2016
- Rep. Barca Statement on Redistricting Decision - State Rep. Peter Barca - Nov 21st, 2016
- HISTORIC DECISION: Wisconsin Federal Court Strikes Down Partisan Gerrymander and Adopts Groundbreaking Legal Standard - Campaign Legal Center - Nov 21st, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: The Myth of Democratic Gerrymandering - Bruce Murphy - Jan 26th, 2016
- Data Wonk: Can New Approach End Gerrymandering? - Bruce Thompson - Jan 6th, 2016
- Federal Lawsuit to Overturn Unconstitutional Gerrymandering of Wisconsin Legislative Districts Continues - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Dec 17th, 2015
- Can Auto Redistricting End Gerrymandering? - Laura Thompson - Dec 10th, 2015
- Assembly candidate Brostoff calls for non-partisan redistricting - Jonathan Brostoff - Apr 17th, 2014
- Redistricting reform the antidote to Republican extremism - Press Release - Nov 13th, 2013
- Lazich, August, Fitzgerald and Vos Still Silent on Redistricting Reform Public Hearings As Support & Pressure Builds - Common Cause in Wisconsin - Sep 17th, 2013
- Freshmen legislators push new legislation to correct flawed partisan redistricting process - Press Release - Apr 11th, 2013