People’s Map Commission Learning from Other States, Hears 7th Congressional District Concerns
This year, Wisconsin along with all the other states will re-draw voting district lines to redistribute political power.
With Wisconsin’s current mapping system, whichever party controls the legislatures draws the maps, usually to favor their own party. This is what’s referred to as gerrymandering.
Governor Evers created the People’s Map Commission to help draw district lines that don’t favor one political party over the other.
To figure out the best, most fair way to redraw lines, the commission is learning from other states.
Michael Li with the Brenan Center’s Democracy Program spoke at last week’s commission meeting. He says Iowa is often used as an example of how it should be done.
“Some of the things that are good about Iowa that I think are good models for reform going forward. They have anti-partisan gerrymandering language which I think is essential. Also, there is a role for the legislature which I think is non impermissible,” said Li.
Katie Fahey was the other speaker. She’s been a large part of Michigan’s push to end gerrymandering.
Fahey says they’ll be focusing on creating districts that include people with common interests.
“Basically, saying that people should be able to have economic shared interests, heritage shared interests, interests that they define that could, where they could advocate the need for representation,” said Fahey.
The second half of the recent People’s Map Commission was for a public hearing. People from the 7th Congressional District which is most of north central and northwestern Wisconsin.
Most people spoke in favor of non-partisan map drawing, which fits with public attitudes about the issue.
A Marquette Law School poll in early 2019 found that 72 percent of Wisconsinites wanted to ban gerrymandering.
That included 63 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents.
By the end of summer of 2020, 54 county boards – three quarters of them in “red” counties – had passed resolutions urging the state legislature to adopt nonpartisan redistricting, and 17 had passed countywide referendums – most by more than 72%.
Lincoln County is included in that. Hans Breitenmoser is a dairy farmer and Lincoln County Board member that spoke during Thursday’s People’s Map Commission public hearing.
“Even though we voted for Republicans up and down the ballot 65% of those same voters voted for a non-partisan procedure because we understand that we need a system that gives us that one person, one vote and we understand that having political party bosses in charge of drawing these lines is a perversion of our representative democracy,” said Breitenmoser.
Some of the people who spoke during the hearing say current lines are just confusing.
Janelle Ludwig Krauss from a rural area of St. Croix County said the lines don’t make sense where she lives to the point where candidates don’t even know where they are.
“Not only are a lot of voters confused about what their district is, but even candidates ask me to put signs in my lawn and I’m not even in their district. So there’s definitely a lot of confusion,” said Ludwig Krauss.