Commentary

G.O.P plans emphasize partisan control, not fairness, just as in 2011

October 22, 2021 6:00 am
Gerrymandered district rendered on a brick wall

“Gerrymander” by judy_and_ed is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 CC BY-NC 2.0

Late Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders opted to release their secretly-drawn state legislative and congressional district maps for the next decade just hours after the People’s Maps Commission released revised voting maps, originally released on September 30th, but revised to reflect the significant public input and reaction to the PMC draft plans. The timing of the release of the G.O.P. maps was obviously designed to detract attention away from the PMC maps so that Republicans could dominate media attention.

The Republican redistricting plan is disappointing, in the extreme. It is a hyper partisan concoction specifically designed to ensure uninterrupted control of both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature throughout the next decade until 2031 and beyond. 62 of the 99 Assembly Districts in their plan are more Republican than the state, as a whole. It increases from five to six, the number of Wisconsin congressional seats controlled by Republicans in the state’s eight seat delegation.

Further, the G.O.P. maps continue the insidious practice of packing more Democrats into fewer districts and dividing numerous counties and municipalities among Assembly districts for the sole purpose of providing partisan advantage to Republican candidates in elections. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, the Republican Assembly map splits 53 counties and 48 municipalities, while the G.O.P. State Senate map splits 42 counties and 28 municipalities. That hardly constitutes keeping communities of interest intact.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project graded the maps put out by the legislature and the People’s Maps Commission. The legislature’s maps received an ‘F’ for their submissions of gerrymandered maps for Wisconsin.

“The voices of the voters of Wisconsin were heard loudly and clearly by the People’s Maps Commission and their concerns are reflected in the revised draft maps put forward by the PMC. Voters now must be allowed to weigh in on the partisan, gerrymandered state legislative and congressional maps just released by the Republican leaders,” said former State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville, the chair of Common Cause in Wisconsin. 

“Fair voting maps require fairness and non-partisanship, not more gerrymandering and the extension of partisan political control. The citizens of Wisconsin need to be heard in a big way at the upcoming public hearing that must be held on these redistricting plans,” Cullen added.

Republicans signaled their intent to keep the corrupt status quo in place two weeks ago, when they passed joint resolutions in both legislative chambers that called for them to “retain as much as possible the core of existing districts.” In other words, to bake in permanently what they did in 2011 — one of the most partisan state gerrymanders in the history of the country.

Wisconsin citizens now need to flood the Capitol with communications of all kinds, opposing the G.O.P rigged voting map plans. Tell both your State Senator and your State Representative to vote against SB 621 and SB 622 in the State Senate, and their companion bills in the State Assembly.

joint public hearing for the Committee on State Affairs regarding the legislature proposed maps is next week! If you are willing and able to give in-person testimony at this hearing, please consider coming to the Capitol on October 28 starting at 9:00 a.m.

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Jay Heck
Jay Heck

For the past 22 years, Jay Heck has been the Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. He is the chief spokesperson and leads the organization in all facets of its operation.

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