Fair Map Movement Gains Momentum

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

May 12, 2017

The momentum for getting fair political maps in Wisconsin keeps gaining speed.

At the Jefferson County Board meeting on May 9, the board overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution calling for nonpartisan redistricting. Jefferson County is the third county in Wisconsin to pass such a resolution this year. The other two were Lincoln and Dunn counties.

The Jefferson County resolution urges the state legislature to “pass legislation that creates a fair, nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of state legislative and Congressional redistricting plans, that promotes more accountability and transparency, prohibits the consideration of voting patterns, party information, and incumbents’ residence information or demographic information in drawing the maps, except as necessary to ensure minority participation as required by law.”

The resolution noted that a panel of federal judges last year ruled that the redistricting in 2011 was unconstitutional. It also noted that “legal costs in defense of the 2011 redistricting have already cost taxpayers in excess of $2.1 million, with the litigation still ongoing.”

Counties that have passed similar resolutions in previous years include Dane, Door, Portage, and Wood.

Advocates for nonpartisan redistricting in Wisconsin are promoting the so-called Iowa model. For the past 35 years, Iowa has relied on impartial career civil servants to draw nonpartisan maps with strict criteria to eliminate favoritism to either party and to include a lot of public input. It works remarkably well there.

If they can do it in Iowa, we can do it here in Wisconsin.

Legislation to do just that has been introduced this session by Sen. Dave Hansen (SB13) and Rep. Don Vruwink (AB44).

The decision by the federal judges is now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.