For Immediate Release–June 18, 2018
Marla Stephens, Citizen Action of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Organizing Co-op, (414) 469-0116, [email protected]
Lindsay Dorff, Citizen Action of Wisconsin – Northeast Organizing Co-op, (920) 391-8638, [email protected]
Wisconsinites Call on State to Pass Fair Maps Legislation
STATEWIDE, WIS. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the Gill v Whitford case back to the district court, effectively leaving Wisconsin’s unconstitutional election maps in place for the 2018 election. This ruling leaves the onus on Wisconsin to protect voters from gerrymandering for the time being.
“The courts didn’t fix our current unfair maps, and politicians won’t either. We, the people, want fair maps. We do not want partisan politicians to continue fighting over our maps in court and wasting taxpayer money. Wisconsin needs a nonpartisan process for drawing our election maps,” said Marla Stephens, member of the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative in Milwaukee. “Every one of us should be demanding that our legislators and our governor call special or extraordinary sessions to pass non-partisan independent redistricting reform now – before the 2018 and 2020 elections and before the next voting maps are drawn using 2020 Census data.”
In Gill v Whitford, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to send the case back to the district court on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not establish standing because they did not make a successful claim of individual harm. “What is stunning about the ruling is that the U.S. Supreme Court found a technicality allowing it to avoid immediately ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It is highly significant that the court refused to uphold the hyper-partisan districts created by Wisconsin Republicans, or reverse earlier federal court decisions which found them unconstitutional. There is nothing stopping the Legislature from from creating an independent redistricting process that serves the interests of the people of Wisconsin, not the partisan interests of political parties and politicians.”
A majority of Wisconsin county boards have already expressed their support for the legislation. So far, 39 of 72 counties have passed resolutions that call for “the creation of a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans.”
“This is an issue that affects every single one of our citizens,” said Lindsay Dorff, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative member in Green Bay. “The Wisconsin legislature has spent more than three million of our tax dollars to draw and defend flawed maps. We want to see a nonpartisan process for drawing maps that is both fair and costs significantly less.”
Senate Bill 13, introduced by Sen. Dave Hansen, and Assembly Bill 44, introduced by Rep. Don Vruwink, would move the responsibility for drawing voting maps out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. The bills are based on a successful model used in Iowa for thirty years.
“This is only the beginning of our movement for fair maps in Wisconsin,” said Stephens. “Wisconsinites will continue to push our state legislature to create an independent and transparent map drawing process until we get it.”