Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Ballots Won’t Have Duplicate Gerrymandering Questions

City rescinds its referendum question after Milwaukee County passed a similar measure.

By - Feb 27th, 2020 04:01 pm
Assembly Districts

Assembly Districts

The Milwaukee Common Council held a special meeting Thursday afternoon to avoid a potentially confusing ballot issue in the April 7th election.

The council voted to revoke its non-binding referendum question on establishing a non-partisan procedure for drawing legislative districts, deferring to a similar question that will be included on all Milwaukee County voters. Alderman Cavalier Johnson introduced the file on September 4th and the council unanimously approved submitting the question to city voters on October 15th after delaying a vote on September 24th.

Members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors introduced a similar referendum question on September 25th, but didn’t approve the matter until November 7th. The measure was sponsored by council members Willie Johnson, Jr., Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, Steven Shea, Sequanna Taylor and Jason Haas. Supervisors Deanna Alexander, Patti Logsdon and Dan Sebring voted against authorizing the referendum.

Removing the city’s question eliminates the potential scenario where city voters approve the referendum, but suburban voters lead the county result to go against the question.

A fiscal note attached to the county’s question estimates the cost of executing the referendum at $15,000.

The non-binding question comes in response to a Republican-led redistricting process in 2011 that resulted in a Supreme Court challenge. The federal court on a 5-4 ruling determined it could not hear cases involving a state partisan process. Republicans won 60 of the 99 Wisconsin State Assembly seats as a result of the new maps, though the total votes cast for Democrats exceeded those for Republicans.

As of the spring 2019 election, 42 county boards have voted to ban gerrymandering and eight counties have passed referendums in opposition to the process. The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors voted 16-2 to request non-partisan redistricting in 2017.

Wisconsin districts are scheduled to be redrawn following the 2020 US Census.

Milwaukee voters heading to the polls on April 7th will find a host of races on their ballot, including a Presidential partisan primary, and races for state Supreme Court justice, six Milwaukee County Circuit Court seats, Milwaukee County Executive, county and city comptroller, county supervisor, Common Council, Mayor, City Treasurer and City Attorney.

County Question

Should the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of Legislative and Congressional district plans and maps?

City Question

Should the City of Milwaukee request that the Wisconsin Legislature pass legislation creating a non-partisan procedure for drawing legislative district maps that will result in fair political representation for all Wisconsin voters?

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Related Legislation: File 191780

Categories: City Hall, Politics

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