People’s Maps Commission Seeks Fair Elections
Citizen members being selected, will oversee fair maps, end partisan gerrymandering.
When representatives of the original colonies gathered to determine the formation of the United States they took the bold step of putting the trust in the hands of its citizens, establishing the United States as a Democratic Republic.
From an early age, we learn the importance of the right to vote and our responsibility to participate in democracy as American citizens. After all, democracy can only happen when people choose their elected officials at every governing level, from the town hall to the U.S. Capitol.
Throughout our country’s history, people in power have politically disenfranchised marginalized communities in obvious ways, such as misleading voters on issues or passing laws that make it difficult or impossible for some citizens to vote. People who have historically been deprived this right have the greatest understanding how valuable the vote is.
Partisan gerrymandering is one of the greatest detriments to truly having a democracy that works. States are obligated to redraw electoral districts after every census. Population shifts over a decade make it logical to adjust lines so districts are evenly represented. In the past, self-serving politicians learned, through trial and error, how to manipulate the district maps in such ways that people of color would be disenfranchised. Eventually, the courts ruled, that drawing district lines to disenfranchise people of color was unconstitutional. This ruling didn’t completely stop partisan gerrymandering, though; it’s just become much more sophisticated and diabolical.
Partisan gerrymandering has become easier for politicians and data experts to determine how people lean politically and draw district lines in such a way that makes the incumbent unbeatable. This practice diminishes your voice in government and completely defeats the purpose of a representative democracy if politicians can count on winning no matter how poorly they represent us.
In 2009, I co-authored legislation and held a public hearing as Chair of the Assembly Elections and Campaign Reform Committee to fix this manipulative practice, but unfortunately it didn’t pass. In this legislative session, I supported legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting process, and also introduced legislation to establish a constitutional amendment for non-partisan redistricting reform.
The Commission will hold 8 hearings, one in each congressional district, to hear directly from experts, stakeholders, elected officials and the general public. Following the hearings, the Commission will apply the U.S. Census data to draw the maps. Once these maps are created, the Legislature will then decide to accept the non-partisan Commission’s maps or draw their own. The People’s Maps Commission will help fix our broken partisan gerrymandering system and put an end to politicians picking their voters.
The Majority Party, blinded by the power they hold, hired a bunch of slick lawyers to draw electoral maps for them instead of using a nonpartisan commission. They even signed secrecy pledges to prevent the public from seeing the maps! We need an open process to create fair maps and end map manipulation for good.
Non-partisan redistricting reform is not a partisan issue – it’s a people issue. We all deserve a government that works for us and represents the values of its citizens.
The deadline to apply for the People’s Maps Commission is July 31st. If you’re interested in applying, you can do so by visiting govstatus.egov.com/peoplesmaps.
Wisconsin State Senator Jeff Smith represents Wisconsin’s 31st Senate District.
- Film Details Disenfranchisement in Wisconsin - Erik Gunn - Sep 24th, 2020
- Can Wisconsin Create Fair District Maps? - Melanie Conklin - Sep 11th, 2020
- Fair Elections Project Applauds Judicial Panel’s Selections for the People’s Maps Commission - Wisconsin Fair Elections Project - Sep 11th, 2020
- Gov. Evers Announces Judicial Panel’s Selections for the People’s Maps Commission - Gov. Tony Evers - Sep 10th, 2020
- 11 Wisconsin Counties Have a Redistricting Referendum on Nov. 3 Ballot - Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition - Sep 9th, 2020
- The State of Politics: Half Of Legislative Seats Already Decided? - Steven Walters - Aug 24th, 2020
- Gerrymandering a Threat to Our Democracy - Tom Palzewicz - Aug 6th, 2020
- Gerrymandering Creates Difficult Road for Dems in Wisconsin - Tom Palzewicz - Aug 4th, 2020
- The People’s Maps Commission application deadline is this Friday - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Jul 29th, 2020
- Op Ed: Why Vos and Fitzgerald Fear Fair Maps - Jay Heck - Jul 23rd, 2020
Read more about Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts here