MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers today announced the official application and selection processes for The People’s Maps Commission, a nonpartisan redistricting commission charged with drawing fair, impartial maps following the 2020 U.S. Census. During his 2020 State of the State Address, Gov. Evers announced he would be creating a commission comprised of the people of our state—not elected officials, lobbyists, or political party officials—to draw maps and present them to the Legislature for their consideration. Several days later, the governor signed Executive Order #66 creating The People’s Maps Commission. The governor’s executive order came just months after Gov. Evers declared in signing his first biennial budget he would bring the fight for fair maps to the Legislature after the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee removed a nonpartisan redistricting proposal from the governor’s proposed 2019-21 budget.
“I believe, and I know Wisconsinites do, too, that the people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” said Gov. Evers. “The maps we have were drawn behind closed doors without public input, resulting in years of litigation. When I ran for governor, I promised the people of this state that I would fight for nonpartisan redistricting and fair, nonpartisan maps that were drawn in the light of day, and by golly, we’re going to make good on that promise.”
51 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties encompassing nearly 80 percent of Wisconsin’s population have passed resolutions or referenda supporting nonpartisan redistricting. According to a Marquette University Law School Poll, more than 70 percent of Wisconsinites prefer to have redistricting conducted by a nonpartisan commission. Nonpartisan redistricting proposals have been introduced in the Legislature for several legislative biennia—and have even received bipartisan support—but none of those proposals have passed the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Nine Wisconsinites will serve on The People’s Maps Commission, with members from each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The Commission will host public hearings in each congressional district to receive input from the people of Wisconsin, experts, and stakeholders on the redistricting process. Following the release of data from of the 2020 U.S. Census, the Commission will use the information gathered during the public hearing process to prepare maps for the Legislature’s consideration. It will be up to the Legislature to take up and pass the maps created by The People’s Maps Commission.
“Republicans in the Legislature have had every opportunity to take up nonpartisan redistricting reform, but they’ve failed to act for years,” Gov. Evers continued. “The People’s Maps Commission is going to draw a fair set of maps, and if the Legislature refuses to take them up, then those members will have to answer to the people they represent.”
The application process to serve on The People’s Maps Commission opens today, July 9, 2020, and applicants interested in applying must return heir application by July 31, 2020. A copy of the application can be found here. Additional information on the application process, eligibility requirements, and tentative public hearing schedule is available below.
In addition to the application process for The People’s Maps Commission, Gov. Evers today also announced a selection and review process ensuring impartiality and fairness in selecting applicants to serve on the Commission. Eligible applicant applications will be provided to a selections panel of three retired judges:
- Janine Geske -- Geske was appointed by former Governor Lee Dryfus in 1981 to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. In 1993, former Governor Tommy Thompson appointed Geske to the Wisconsin Supreme Court where she served until 1998.
- Joseph Troy -- Troy was elected to the Outagamie County Circuit Court bench in 1987 and served until 2007.
- Paul Higginbotham -- Higginbotham served on the Dane County Circuit Court from 1994 until 2003. In 2003, Governor Jim Doyle appointed Higginbotham to the Court of Appeals, District IV, where he served until 2017.
“This isn’t a Democratic or Republican redistricting commission, and it’s not going to be the Tony Evers redistricting commission,” said Gov. Evers. “When I say this process should be fair and impartial, I mean it. That’s why I’m excited for these judges to be on the selection panel to ensure The People’s Maps Commission is truly nonpartisan and unbiased.” Additional information on The People’s Maps Commission, the application and selection process, and general resources on redistricting can be found at a new website launched by the governor’s office available here.
Eligibility criteria to join The People’s Maps Commission includes that a person:
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- A Wisconsin resident;
- May not be:
- Registered as a lobbyist in the last 5 years;
- A declared candidate for a local, state, or federal elected office;
- A state public official as defined by Wis. Stat. § 19.42(14);
- A local public official as defined by Wis. Stat. § 19.42(7x);
- An officer or member of the governing body of a local, state, or national political party.
Applications must be notarized and received by July 31, 2020. Information about how to get a document notarized and how to use a remote notary is available here. Applicants may email their application to PeoplesMaps@wisconsin.gov or mail it to Office of Governor Evers, ATTN: People’s Maps Commission Application, PO Box 7863, Madison, WI 53707.
Commission Public Hearing;
The People’s Maps Commission will host public hearings in each of Wisconsin’s congressional districts. Due to COVID-19, hearings will likely occur digitally. The final schedule of public hearings is forthcoming, but the Commission is tentatively planned to meet during the following weeks:
- Week of September 21, 2020
- Week of October 26, 2020
- Week of November 16, 2020
- Week of December 7, 2020
- Week of January 18, 2021
- Week of February 15, 2021
- Week of March 15, 2021
- Week of April 19, 2021