Public support for ending Wisconsin’s hyper-partisan gerrymandering of the state’s legislative and congressional districts has never been higher than it is today — and ever since the 2011 redistricting process, which was considered to be the most egregious and unfair of any state in the nation in that year, was rammed through the Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Scott Walker. The demand by Wisconsin citizens that there not be a repeat of 2011 in the upcoming redistricting process in 2021 has never been louder, more visible, more insistent nor more organized than it is right now, with less than two months before the November 3rd elections.
The 2019-2020 Wisconsin legislative session ended earlier this year with unprecedented bi-partisan support for redistricting reform legislation, based on Iowa’s fair, non-partisan, highly effective and successful redistricting process. 2019 Assembly Bill 303 and 2019 Senate Bill 288 attracted five Republican co-sponsors in this session, four more Republicans than had ever supported it since 2011. They joined all state legislative Democrats as co-sponsors of this measure, which also drew the support of Gov. Tony Evers. But for the fifth consecutive legislative session, the Republican leaders of the Legislature — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, arrogantly refused to schedule even a legislative public hearing of these immensely popular and widely supported measures.
But, no matter. Wisconsinites long ago have been wise to Vos and Fitzgerald’s “game.” Fair maps and elections that aren’t rigged would threaten their power to exercise absolute dictatorial control of the political and public policy agenda in Wisconsin and render them clueless about how to win elections and public policy based on the merits of their ideas and policy prescriptions. They need an unfair, skewed system in order to prevail. But the citizens of Wisconsin, both Republican and Democratic — and everyone in between and beyond — are on to their scam.
Seven years ago, Common Cause in Wisconsin united pro-reform legislators behind this “Iowa Model” legislation. Not many Wisconsinites knew or understood fully at that time what partisan gerrymandering entailed and just how destructive it has been to basic fairness and democracy in this state by effectively silencing the voices of millions of Wisconsin voters in elections since 2012. But now, after seven years of intensive citizen education and high visibility information about this issue by CC/WI and our allies — virtually every citizen of all political stripes grasps this issue and the need to have fair voting maps, not the rigged, partisan maps we have now. A Marquette Law School statewide poll found that 72 percent of Wisconsinites support a nonpartisan redistricting process for 2021 and that includes 62 percent of all Republican voters. Every day, we are increasingly winning this battle for the hearts and minds of Wisconsinites.
Grassroots citizen pressure at the local level has resulted in the passage of resolutions in support of the Iowa Model by more than three fourths (55) of Wisconsin’s 72 counties thus far, most of which voted “red” (for Donald Trump and Scott Walker) in the 2016 and 2018 elections. And that movement is gaining even more strength each day. We worked with our reform allies to get citizen referendums on fair voting maps on ballots in eleven counties to pass overwhelmingly on April 7th and now have won in all 17 counties that have held such votes!
Every time they have an opportunity to weigh in at the polling place, Wisconsinites categorically and overwhelmingly reject the Vos/Fitzgerald rigged, hyper-partisan gerrymandering scheme. On April 7th, there were advisory referendums in support of a non-partisan redistricting process, modeled after Iowa’s system on the ballot in eleven counties: Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oneida, Pierce, Portage, Rock, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vilas and Wood. It passed everywhere it was on the ballot with overwhelming public support.
This November, another eleven Wisconsin counties: Adams, Bayfield, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Rusk and Waushara will have advisory referendums on their ballot asking voters in those counties if they support ending partisan gerrymandering and support a non-partisan fair maps process like the State of Iowa’s. There is no doubt that voters will overwhelmingly vote yes in those counties. Why wouldn’t you? Please be sure that you do. Here is a recent article about the Fair Maps advisory referendum effort in Door County. It is representative of the Fair Maps offensive in every Wisconsin county.
Wisconsinites will also have an opportunity to weigh in publicly this Fall and next year in support on ending partisan gerrymandering by testifying at one of the eight (virtual) public hearings being scheduled by Governor Ever’s “People’s Map Commission.” The schedule for the virtual hearings is:
Week of September 21, 2020
Week of October 26, 2020
Week of November 16, 2020
Week of December 7, 2020
Week of January 18, 2021
Week of February 15, 2021
Week of March 15, 2021
Week of April 19, 2021
For more information about how to testify or watch these hearings go here.
Last month, CC/WI Board Chair, and former Wisconsin State Senator and Majority Leader Tim Cullen of Janesville, teamed up with former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz to author this excellent guest editorial about the need for redistricting reform and adopting the Iowa Model for Wisconsin, that appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.
And also this Summer, the Wisconsin Examiner published this opinion-editorial by CC/WI Director Jay Heck about the ongoing deception that Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald have long perpetrated about the Iowa Model reform legislation and its constitutionality.
Redistricting reform will occur in Wisconsin, sooner or later. Support for ending partisan gerrymandering is growing and Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin’s other statewide constitutional officers support it too. Republican support in the Legislature has increased and the issue is “front and center” for 2020 and 2021. Our task is to continue to advocate, educate, organize and keep pushing forward to get this done. And we will. We will never give in or quit in this fight. Nor will you.
Make ending partisan gerrymandering a top-tier issue when you vote this November!