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Over the last several years, Wisconsin has repeatedly made national news for having some of the most gerrymandered maps in the nation. Gerrymandered districts are characterized by irregular shapes that deviate from municipal lines and pack voters of the same political party together, resulting in uncompetitive elections. That is why many states have authorized nonpartisan commissions to draw new district lines every 10 years. However, Wisconsin still leaves this task up to the state legislature, giving the majority party an opportunity to skew results of future elections to their own advantage.

 

The Wisconsin legislature will draw new districts in 2021, so we need to make sure that the problem of gerrymandering in Wisconsin gets better--not worse.

The Problem with Gerrymandering

 

  • VOTER DISENFRANCHISEMENT — Wisconsin’s current district maps were ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in 2016 because they unfairly dilute the votes of over half of the state’s citizens, violating the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. We should empower voters to participate in the democratic process by preserving our right to open and accountable elections. 

  • UNCOMPETITIVE RACES — In competitive districts, candidates and elected officials have an obligation to respond to the needs of their constituents. In the November 2018 general election, 33 of the 99 state Assembly races featured candidates who ran unopposed. In the state Senate, only six races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points. In order for democracy to thrive, voters must have a real choice when they go to the polls.

  • EXTREME PARTISANSHIP — Most Wisconsinites want members of the Legislature to work across party lines. Unfortunately, our legislative districts are drawn to be “safe” for one party or the other, favoring extreme partisanship. Nonpartisan redistricting would result in more mixed districts where moderate views prevail. 

  • VOTER AND CANDIDATE CONFUSION — Voters and elected officials alike count on town halls, county fairs, and other local events to meet one another. When districts are carved up, constituents struggle to know whether they’re talking to the right legislator, and candidates struggle to know whether they’re talking to one of their constituents. Fair maps would cut the confusion and lead to more robust dialogue between elected officials and voters. 

  • UNNECESSARY EXPENSE — Partisan political maps have resulted in expensive court battles at taxpayer expense. Rather than drawing fair, nonpartisan districts, the state has spent over $4 million to defend the current gerrymandered maps. Taxpayer dollars should be used for public needs like roads, schools, internet infrastructure, and clean water, not to defend political battles the majority of citizens do not support.

What the State Can Do

  • ​IMPLEMENT A NONPARTISAN COMMISSION FOR REDISTRICTING 

  • IMPLEMENT AN IOWA-TYPE MODEL TO CONDUCT REDISTRICTING

    •  A non-partisan commission draws the district lines for state and a federal office. 

    • The maps are presented to the state legislature for an up or down vote. 

    •  If the plan fails to pass after 3 separate votes, the courts step in and take over the process. Since the inception of Iowa’s 1981 model, the maps have only required a second vote once and courts have not had to be involved.

  • STOP SPENDING TAXPAYER MONEY TO DEFEND GERRYMANDERED LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS — There is no justification for spending taxpayer money to oppose fair legislative districts. Voters want the legislature to spend tax dollars on roads, schools, internet infrastructure, and clean water — not costly legal battles over redistricting 

  • DON’T MAKE THIS A PARTISAN ISSUE —  Although Republicans were in power for the previous redistricting and now Democrats are calling for reform, the opposite is true in Illinois. In their last redistricting in 2010-2011, Democrats gerrymandered the state to their advantage and Republicans are now calling for redistricting by an independent commission. Both parties will continue to use this to their own advantage until it is given over to a nonpartisan commission, and both parties will eventually suffer unless something is changed. 

What You Can Do

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  • Take the Fair Maps Voter Pledge  

    • “I believe that Wisconsin should have a level playing field and fair elections. That’s why I pledge to vote only for candidates who promise to support fair maps legislation, a fair redrawing in 2021, and who will vote to ban partisan gerrymandering.”

  • Call your state senator and state representative, as well as any candidates running for state senate or assembly in your district, and ask if they support nonpartisan redistricting. 

  • Find out if your county has passed a fair maps referendum or resolution: https://www.wisdc.org/reforms/support-fair-voting-maps

  • Get involved locally

    • Counties that have a fair maps referendum on the November ballot: 

      • Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Rusk

Other ways to get involved:

  • Sign up for the Fair Maps Coalition newsletter to stay in the loop about current events and to learn more ways to get involved

  • Engage on social media 

    • Share the fair maps video and the recording of this presentation on social media

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Chippewa Falls, WI 54729

info@wisconsinfarmersunion.com

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