Law Forward
Press Release

Law Forward’s “Redistricting 101” Provides Much-needed Overview of Critical but Complicated Process

New Report Breaks Down Redistricting Process In Plain English; Explains Its Importance

By - Apr 15th, 2021 11:16 am

MADISON, WI. APRIL 15 — “I have been talking about redistricting with everyone from members of the legislature and activists to my family and friends.  And two things have become clear to me.  First, most people understand the importance of the redistricting process.  And second, very few people understand how it works and, critically, how it will unfold in Wisconsin this year with divided government, census delays, and increased public interest.”

That is the observation that Law Forward Staff Counsel Mel Barnes shared with her colleagues last month.  With the 2020 Census Data expected to be shared with the states in the next few weeks, an event which marks the real start of the redistricting process, the Law Forward team realized the need for a clear layperson’s guide to the redistricting process.

The result is “Redistricting 101:  What We Talk About When We Talk About Maps,” a new background paper by Barnes being released today.

“Redistricting is far too important to play out in the shadows,” noted Barnes.  She added, “I wanted to write something that would help everybody understand the process, since everybody is impacted by it.”

The report is available free of charge at

Written in clear and plan English, this comprehensive report:

  • Summarizes the history and purpose of redistricting.
  • Discusses the abuse of the system through partisan gerrymandering.
  • Explains the process by which Wisconsin makes its redistricting decisions.
  • Details the legal and constitutional issues raised by redistricting, including how some schemes undermine fundamental principles such as “one person, one vote.”
  • Provides a timeline for the redistricting process.
  • Includes a glossary to explain some of the less-familiar terms, as well as a list of resources.

Publication of the report was greeted with enthusiasm:

Carlene Bechen, lead organizer with the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, noted, “Redistricting 101 will be a powerful tool in helping our volunteers understand the redistricting process and where they can make an impact.  We are grateful to Mel and Law Forward for this important resource.”

Mentioned in This Press Release


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