Grassroots movement to limit gerrymandering gains momentum
MADISON—The WI Fair Maps Coalition announced today that 37 Wisconsin counties have now passed a “Fair Maps Resolution” calling on the legislature to move the legislative district mapdrawing process to an independent, nonpartisan agency. These 37 counties represent about 2/3 of the state’s population, and more than 70 percent of these counties voted for the Republican candidate for President in 2016. The counties span the state: from Douglas and Bayfield counties to Walworth and Kenosha counties; from Forest and Marinette and Door counties to Trempealeau, La Crosse, and Vernon counties.
“All across Wisconsin, people are demanding the fair drawing of political districts,” said Renee Gasch of the Citizen Action Northeast Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative. “They are sick and tired of elected officials rigging the system so they can stay in power.”
The movement for nonpartisan redistricting has gained significant momentum, as 29 passed their resolutions just in the last year. Each resolution puts the county on record as telling the Legislature to delegate the power to draw legislative district maps after each census to a nonpartisan agency. For a list of the counties that have passed the resolution to date, click here.
These resolutions are being passed with the backdrop of a federal court ruling in Gill v Whitford that the state’s current legislative district maps are unconstitutional for violating Wisconsin citizens’ rights. Observers believe this increases the pressure on the Legislature to act.
“No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules, it’s up to our elected officials to honor the wishes of the citizens of Wisconsin, and that means adopting a process of nonpartisan map-drawing like they have in Iowa,” said Beverly Speer, Outreach and Advocacy Director for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
The effort to pass these county resolutions has been promoted by the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, which consists of about a dozen good government groups. The coalition is backing SB 13/AB 44, the bills currently introduced in the legislature to enact nonpartisan redistricting.
The coalition is also urging the relevant committee chairs, State Senator Devin LeMahieu and State Representative Kathy Bernier, to each hold a public hearing and vote on the bill before the current legislative session ends this spring.