Redistricting Fight Is One Year Away
So why are Evers and Democrats putting spotlight on it now?
All that Capitol noise recently on redistricting –- the every-10-years requirement to redraw districts for state legislative and U.S. House seats –- amounted to spring training or, if you prefer, batting practice on that issue.
Because there will be no Census data for anyone – Republicans who control the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who must sign into law any redistricting plan passed by the Legislature – to fight over until next year.
The real redistricting game won’t be played until spring 2021, by which time the 2020 Census data will available, and the results of the Nov. 3, 2020 election will have prompted a musical-chairs game of who has more or less political power in the Capitol.
As he promised to do in his State of the State speech, Evers signed an order creating a People’s Maps Commission. The order noted that the panel can’t do anything until “after the 2020 Census data is made available.”
“Commission members may not be elected officials, public officials, lobbyists or political party officials,” the order said.
Who can serve on it? “Members from each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts, members from communities of interest, and experts in non-partisan redistricting.”
Why is the Commission needed? The legislative district lines Republicans drew in 2011 “are some of the most gerrymandered extreme maps in the U.S…[with] approximately 50 times more voters moved to new districts than was necessary,” according to governor’s order.
Signed into law by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the 2011 maps helped Republicans keep control of the Legislature for a decade. The GOP controls the Assembly by a 63-36 margin.
“When it comes to the integrity of the process and the fairness of the maps, Wisconsin must look to the people, not the politicians, that could assist in drawing maps that are fairly and accurately representing our state,” Evers said.
Wrong, Kaul said. “Not only is the public allowed to have input into what our maps look like, but that’s the way our process should work,” he said. “It’s the people of Wisconsin that have the power.”
Anyone with access to 2020 Census data next year, and who is also computer and software savvy enough to superimpose that data over the boundaries of local units of government, can draw up plans dividing the state into 99 Assembly districts, 33 state Senate districts and eight U.S. House districts.
But the difference between the maps drawn by someone in their pajamas on their home computer and the maps the People’s Commission will draft is this: Evers will formally submit the Commission’s plans to the Legislature to consider and, he hopes, enact.
But does the Legislature have to formally consider, or vote on, maps from the People’s Commission or anyone else? No.
In 2011, consultants and staffers for those GOP leaders drew maps in the restricted offices of private law firms, only showed them to Republican legislators who had signed secrecy oaths and billed taxpayers for all those costs.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the governor’s People’s Commission a “fake, phony, partisan process” and noted the limited role a governor plays in the redistricting process. ”Whatever Gov. Evers wants to do, he has one part in this role to play: he has the ability to sign or veto a map. He doesn’t get to draw them,” Vos said.
If legislators and the governor can’t agree on new U.S. House, state Senate and state Assembly boundaries, judges may ultimately draw them. Again.
Federal judges signed off on the 2011 legislative maps, for example, after only slightly tweaking two City of Milwaukee Assembly districts.
The final 2011 district lines for the eight U.S. House seats were dictated by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who is not running again and won’t – officially – be involved in the spring 2021 fight.
So all that Capitol “huffing and puffing,” to use an Evers term, recently over redistricting? Spring training. Batting practice. Dress rehearsal before the play’s opening night.
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More about the Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts
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- Data Wonk: The Republicans’ Gerrymander Scheme - Bruce Thompson - Feb 5th, 2020
- The State of Politics: Redistricting Fight Is One Year Away - Steven Walters - Feb 3rd, 2020
- Hesselbein Advocates for Fair Maps Constitutional Amendment - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Jan 7th, 2020
- ‘Fair Maps’ Groups to Train Activists - Rob Mentzer - Nov 8th, 2019
- City Hall: City Voters Will Get Gerrymandering Referendum - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 16th, 2019
- Majority of Wisconsin Wants Non-Partisan Redistricting - Ruth Conniff - Oct 2nd, 2019
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- Data Wonk: Gerrymandering Is Built on Lies - Bruce Thompson - Sep 12th, 2019
- Data Wonk: The Future of Wisconsin Gerrymandering - Bruce Thompson - Aug 14th, 2019
- Republicans Deny New Gerrymander Plan - Ruth Conniff - Jul 30th, 2019
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- Op Ed: The Game is Rigged in Wisconsin - Spencer Black - Jul 21st, 2019
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- Rep. Robyn Vining Continues Fight for Fair Maps - State Rep. Robyn Vining - Jul 16th, 2019
- Statement on Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform Bill - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Jul 16th, 2019
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- Op Ed: Redistricting Now Up to Citizen Action - Jay Heck - Jul 2nd, 2019
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- U.S. Supreme Court Allows Gerrymandering - Laurel White - Jun 28th, 2019
- Statement on U.S. Supreme Court decision on Partisan Gerrymandering - Fair Elections Project - Jun 27th, 2019
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- Murphy’s Law: The Arrogance of Robin Vos - Bruce Murphy - Mar 21st, 2019
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- The State of Politics: How Evers Would End Gerrymandering - Steven Walters - Mar 18th, 2019
- Evers’ Budget Will Include Nonpartisan Redistricting Process - Shawn Johnson - Feb 27th, 2019
- Representative Subeck Applauds Governor Evers’ Plan to Ensure Fair Election Maps - State Rep. Lisa Subeck - Feb 26th, 2019
- Rep. Hesselbein Supports Governor Evers’ Fair Maps Plan - State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein - Feb 26th, 2019
- Rep. Spreitzer Supports Gov. Evers’s Redistricting Reform - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 26th, 2019
- Statement on Governor Evers’ announcement he will include nonpartisan redistricting reform in his proposed budget - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Feb 26th, 2019
- Rep. Robyn Vining Embraces Gov. Evers’ Inclusion of Redistricting in Budget - State Rep. Robyn Vining - Feb 26th, 2019
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- Democrats Refile Redistricting Suit - Shawn Johnson - Sep 16th, 2018
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- Response to Gill v Whitford decision to remand back to trial court - Fair Elections Project - Jun 18th, 2018
- The Art Of Gerrymandering Milwaukee - Malia Jones - Jun 9th, 2018
- The Push for Nonpartisan Redistricting - Cathleen Draper - Jun 5th, 2018
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- Rep. Peter Barca Statement on Attorney General Appeal of Redistricting Decision - State Rep. Peter Barca - Feb 24th, 2017
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- Campaign Cash: GOP’s Redistricting Lawyers Are Big Donors - Matt Rothschild - Feb 6th, 2017
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- 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
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- Sen. Taylor statement on federal court ruling against Republican gerrymandering - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Nov 21st, 2016
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- HISTORIC DECISION: Wisconsin Federal Court Strikes Down Partisan Gerrymander and Adopts Groundbreaking Legal Standard - Campaign Legal Center - Nov 21st, 2016
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- Assembly candidate Brostoff calls for non-partisan redistricting - State Rep. 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
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