Posted: July 13, 2010
Updated: March 25, 2015
Leading up to the 2011 process of drawing new voting district maps for Wisconsin, the Democracy Campaign worked with groups in Wisconsin and five other states in the Great Lakes region through Draw the Line Midwest Project to improve the process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts that is done every 10 years following each census. How redistricting is done determines who gets to represent the public in our government. In a democracy, voters are supposed to choose their representatives, not the other way around. Through partisan gerrymandering assisted by increasingly sophisticated computer mapping technology, elected officials have been able to handpick their voters and enhance their job security.
Districts with a lopsided political makeup – either mostly Democratic or predominantly Republican – make elections less competitive and voters less powerful and less able to infuse new blood and fresh ideas into the political system. They also contribute to hyper-partisan, polarized politics that make compromise nearly impossible on controversial issues. One-sided districts tend to produce candidates who appeal to just one side. Squeezed out are candidates who appeal to independents or voters of both parties. The result is a legislature of fierce partisans, with fewer members willing to reach across the political divide to get the public's business done.
The Campaign for Accountable Redistricting aimed to empower citizens to be more engaged in the redistricting process than ever before and equip them with the tools needed to critique the maps drawn by elected officials and offer alternatives to what the politicians come up with. Another goal was to raise awareness of the need for reform of the redistricting process and build support for needed changes. The project culminated in an April 2013 report on redistricting and its effect on voter choices, titled "Redistricting and Representation in the Great Lakes Region."