Tuesday’s state legislative and congressional election results demonstrate – clearly and convincingly – that the will of the citizens of Wisconsin at the ballot box will only be fully realized when the hyper-partisan gerrymandering of the state’s legislative and congressional districts, in place since 2011, is ended.
Only one incumbent elected official of either political party lost their re-election effort on Tuesday. And in that case, Democratic State Senator Caleb Frostman (D-Sturgeon Bay), had held office for only four months – having won a special election in June to fill a seat in a state senate district drawn to favor Republicans.
This means that almost all of Wisconsin’s state legislative and congressional elections were not competitive and that the outcome in virtually all of these elections was pre-ordained because of partisan gerrymandering.
“While Democrats swept statewide offices for U.S. Senator, Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer and Secretary of State, Republicans were able to thwart the will of the majority of voters in holding, virtually without change, almost the exact same number of state legislative and congressional districts that they held prior to the election. The sole explanation for this undemocratic disparity is the rigged, hyper-partisan voting maps rammed through the Wisconsin Legislature and enacted in 2011,” said Jay Heck, Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI).
On the bright side, CC/WI State Governing Board Chair Tim Cullen noted, “the election of Tony Evers as Governor means that the one-sided, partisan redistricting process that happened in 2011 can’t be repeated in 2021 because Wisconsin will have split control of state government and of that process.”
Cullen also said that this split will necessitate a compromise between the two major political parties on voting maps, and failing that, would have to be done by federal judges.
Cullen and Heck said that it behooves both Republicans and Democrats to adopt a non-partisan redistricting process prior to 2021 to avoid costly (to state taxpayers) legal expenses and increased partisan acrimony in the two years ahead. The non-partisan redistricting system in place in Iowa since 1980, when a Republican Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature enacted it into law, is the best process for Wisconsin.
CC/WI and other reform organizations and pro-reform legislators are all united in support of the Iowa model.