April 26, 2019
by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director
On April 16 the Waupaca County board became the 46th county board to pass a resolution urging our state legislators to ban gerrymandering in Wisconsin and to adopt nonpartisan redistricting.
Waupaca is conservative territory, and the passing of the referendum there is yet more confirmation that this is an issue that’s popular across the board. A Marquette Law School poll earlier this year showed that 72 percent of Wisconsinites want to ban gerrymandering, including 63 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents. Like Waupaca County, which Donald Trump carried with 63 percent of the vote, 34 of the 46 Wisconsin counties that have passed this resolution went for Trump in 2016.
The momentum keeps building. In addition to Waupaca County, three other county boards passed the resolution this month: Buffalo County, Iowa County, and Fond du Lac County.
What’s more, on April 2, county-wide referendums passed by overwhelming margins in La Crosse County and Vernon County. (Also that day, the Town of Newbold, near Rhinelander, held a referendum on the issue, and it passed with 69 percent approval.)
- Dane: 4/1/2014, 82% in favor
- Eau Claire: 11/6/18, 74% in favor
- La Crosse: 4/2/2019, 77% in favor
- Lincoln: 11/6/18, 65% in favor
- Outagamie: 4/3/2018, 72% in favor
- Sauk: 11/6/18, 72% in favor
- Vernon: 4/2/2019, 71% in favor
- Winnebago: 11/6/18, 69% in favor
This is one of the most underreported stories about grassroots activism in Wisconsin.
This powerful effort is the result of some great coordinated organizing by Citizen Action Cooperatives, Common Cause in Wisconsin, the Fair Elections Project, Grassroots North Shore, Indivisible, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Our Wisconsin Revolution, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Wisconsin Voices, and a few other groups.
It’s also the result of some inspired leadership by Lincoln County board member Hans Breitenmoser, who galvanized the county-by-county effort. And it’s the result of years of talks, all around the state, by former State Senators Tim Cullen and Dale Schultz (Cullen was Majority Leader for the Democrats at one point, and Schultz was Majority Leader for the Republicans).
Last, but by no means least, it’s the result of spontaneous organizing by local citizens who are just sick and tired of the rigging of our political system!