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Governor vetoes maps that would maintain Republicans’ undemocratic majorities, increase partisan advantage
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today, in a video message to Wisconsinites, vetoed legislation passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature that would effectively solidify existing, gerrymandered voting maps for the next decade in the state of Wisconsin. When Republicans introduced the maps, Gov. Evers slammed the maps as “gerrymandering 2.0,” calling on Republicans to go back to the drawing board and vowing to veto the bills if sent to the governor’s desk unchanged. After Republicans in the Legislature refused to amend their maps before passage, the governor acted on his promise today and vetoed Senate Bills 621 and 622.
The legislative and congressional maps drafted and passed by Republicans in the Legislature are largely based on the current maps Republicans drew a decade ago that have been called some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country. The new maps vetoed today, which have been described as even more gerrymandered than the existing maps, all but ensure Republicans will preserve their undemocratic majorities in the Legislature while increasing Republicans’ chances of disproportionately winning six of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. All three maps prepared by Republicans in the Legislature received an “F” rating from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project citing “significant Republican advantage, advantages incumbents, and very uncompetitive relative to other maps that could have been drawn.” Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support nonpartisan redistricting. Fifty-six counties consisting of more than 80 percent of Wisconsin residents have passed referenda or resolutions supporting a nonpartisan redistricting process and fair maps. Additionally, according to polls conducted by Marquette University Law School, an overwhelming majority of voters support nonpartisan redistricting.
Gov. Evers has long advocated for nonpartisan redistricting and fair maps. In 2020, the governor signed Executive Order #66, creating the People’s Maps Commission, a nonpartisan redistricting commission comprised of nine commissioners selected by a panel of retired judges to represent each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The maps presented by the People’s Maps Commission were developed after a year-long process that involved multiple rounds of public input—receiving nearly 2,000 submissions, including from Wisconsinites representing 68 counties and 321 municipalities, as well as 18 leading redistricting experts—ensuring that Wisconsinites played an integral role in the map-drawing process. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project also awarded each of the final maps released by the People’s Maps Commission with an overall “A” rating, calling the maps “significantly better” than those proposed by Republicans and highlighting their increased partisan fairness.
The governor’s veto message for Senate Bill 621 and Senate Bill 622 is available here.
A transcript of the governor’s video message is available below.
Three years ago, when I ran for governor, I promised to support a nonpartisan redistricting commission because I believe—and I know Wisconsinites agree—that people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around.
As other politicians in this state abuse their power to try and predetermine our elections, as they try to create controversy where there is none, as they try to discredit the hard work of our election administrators and poll workers who helped ensure we had a free, fair, and secure election last November, I will not.
I will protect the right of every eligible voter to cast their ballot. I will defend our democracy, our elections, and the people who do this work every day. And I will fight for nonpartisan redistricting to be the law of the land as long as I’m governor.
Because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a promise I made to you.
That’s why I created the People’s Maps Commission—nine Wisconsinites selected by a panel of three retired judges to represent each congressional district and to serve as our state’s nonpartisan redistricting commission. They weren’t elected officials, lobbyists, or high-paid
And they worked hard over the last year to listen to folks from every corner of our state to prepare a set of maps for the Legislature and me to consider.
But what’s sitting in front of me here are gerrymandered maps modeled after the same gerrymandered maps we’ve had for a decade. Hundreds showed up on short notice to voice their opposition to these maps, and not a single member of the public testified in support of these bills at that public hearing. And they were sent to my desk over the objections of a decade’s worth of people in this state demanding better, demanding more, and demanding a fair, nonpartisan process for preparing our maps for the next 10 years.
Elected officials shouldn’t be able to depend on the comfort of their seats instead of the quality of their work, and the gerrymandered maps Republicans passed a decade ago have enabled legislators
And these maps here, they’re more of the same. They’re gerrymandering 2.0.
I told the Legislature early on to go back to the drawing board when these were first introduced. I’ve said all along I’d veto these maps if they came to my desk.
This was about elected officials having the courage to do the right thing when it mattered most. And the members of this Legislature failed to deliver.
So, with that, I’m now vetoing SB 621 and SB 622.
These gerrymandered maps will not become law.
I promised I’d never sign gerrymandered maps that came to my desk, and I’m delivering on that promise today.
This is just too important, folks. Our state deserves better, and we’re going to keep working as long as I’m governor to bring fair maps to Wisconsin.