County Executive David Crowley
Op Ed

Gerrymandering Is A Threat To Our Democracy

Will US Supreme Court put party politics aside when considering Whitford v. Gill? Hopefully.

By - Sep 29th, 2017 02:46 pm

How to Steal an election. Image by Steven Nass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

How to Steal an election. Image by Steven Nass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

How can a democracy be democratic if its people have no vote? That’s the question we have been asking since the passage of Wisconsin Act 43 in 2011, where Republican lawmakers redrew legislative districts so brazenly in favor of their own party that the end result is now being contested as unconstitutional before the United States Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the highest judicial body in our proud nation will hear arguments that will ultimately determine whether Democrats and Republicans alike will be able to continue silencing their opposition through blatant gerrymandering. And when the decision is finally handed down, I hope that decision will come back loud and clear: gerrymandering is a threat to our democracy and thus unconstitutional.

In the historic upcoming trial, Whitford v. Gill, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a story reaching back to 2011, when lawmakers here in Wisconsin silenced the voice of Democratic voters statewide by imposing redistricting plans specifically favoring the likelihood of Republican re-election and continuous state-wide control. This shameless strategic move, officially referred to as gerrymandering, is a national issue that is a detriment to our democracy. Although the blow hit Wisconsin Democrats in 2011, I want to emphasize that this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue; this is an issue of right versus wrong.

Jumping back to 2011, the Whitford v. Gill case shows just how dishonest the practice of gerrymandering can be when we look forward one year, to the 2012 Wisconsin elections. During these elections where the 2011 legislative redistricting maps were in place, Democratic candidates substantially won the popular vote for state Assembly, alongside victories in two major statewide elections, but still only won 39 out of 99 Assembly seats. To call this anything other than unconstitutional is laughable because thousands of Wisconsin voters lost their say in these elections; it was taken from them by a severe case of gerrymandering that stacked the deck by putting all Democratic voters in the same districts. For Republicans to have a supermajority in the State Assembly despite losing the popular vote is simply unheard of. It’s just not the way a democracy should work.

It’s sad to see that many lawmakers are so absorbed with staying in power that they have continued to support a practice they know hurts our citizens. They know that it is unconstitutional to violate equal protection and free expression for those living in predominantly Democratic or Republican districts. They know it’s wrong to ensure one party stays in power through rigged mapping. And they know that the American people will lose faith in a system that silences the voice of the voters. So it is my hope that when Whitford v. Gill goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, party politics will be the last thing on their mind. Instead, let’s hope they put American citizens first and ensure every American the Constitutional voting rights our forefathers endowed us with.

Rep. David Crowley represents the 17th Assembly District in the city of Milwaukee.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

2 thoughts on “Op Ed: Gerrymandering Is A Threat To Our Democracy”

  1. I am a software developer in the field of online maps and have volunteered to help shed light on gerrymandering by producing high quality Google + GIS maps showing voting districts at both the state and federal level. These maps all have a consistent look-and-feel.

    There are two ways to see the maps. Below are a few examples. For more information please open any of these maps and then click “Map Tips” in the upper left corner.

    Method #1 – Parameters in the link

    Display Wisconsin state house districts.
    These are the districts at issue in the Gill v Whitford “efficiency gap” case.,house

    Display Wisconsin state house districts with #70 highlighted:,house,70

    Display Wisconsin congressional districts:

    Display Wisconsin congressional districts and highlight #3:,3

    Method #2 – Basemap button

    1. Open Gmap4.
    2. Click or tap the basemap button (next to the “Menu” button).
    3. Look under the “Overlay” heading. Mobile users need to scroll down.
    4. Select “State_legislature_districts” or “Congress_districts”.
    5. Refine your selection

    Click a district and a popup will appear with information about the person(s) elected to represent that district.

    Among other things, the “Map Tips” show how to turn geolocation on and how to search on an address.

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks for sharing, Joseph.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us