More voters show support for nonpartisan redistricting commission

MADISON, Wis. — More communities are showing their support for doing away with gerrymandering.

Voters in 11 counties, including Iowa and Jefferson, passed a referendum in Tuesday’s election showing support for a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

Matt Rothschild with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has kept track of these votes on redistricting.

“It’s amazing, but it’s not surprising because all over the state for the last few years one community after another has been saying resoundingly that they want to ban gerrymandering in Wisconsin,” he said of the election results.

Every 10 years, the state legislature is tasked with redrawing legislative boundaries with updated census numbers.

By Rothschild’s count 55 out of 72 counties – Democrat and Republican leaning – have shown support through referendum or resolution for that process being done in a nonpartisan way.

“The people across ideological lines want to end gerrymandering because they don’t want politicians of either party to be able to manipulate the maps to keep themselves in power,” he said. “Gerrymandering is wrong whether Democrats are doing it or Republicans are doing it.”

At the State of the State address at the beginning of the year, Democrat Gov. Tony Evers announced the People’s Maps Commission, a nonpartisan group that would draw new maps that the legislature could approve. The work is ongoing. Commission members have virtual meetings scheduled across the state once a month until April. The next meeting is Nov. 19 for voters in the 3rd Congressional District.

Sachin Chheda, the chair of the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, believes nonpartisan maps could bring a change in the state and the legislature.

“We’d have more moderates winning elections,” he said. “We’d have more opportunity for compromise. We’d have a better sense of neighborliness and duty and unity in terms of trying to find compromise in getting things done. That’s the Wisconsin I grew up in and I think that’s the Wisconsin we can get back if we fix these maps.”

By state law, new maps need to be signed off by the legislature.

At the State of the State address, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the legislature can work together to get the maps done.

“The constitution requires the legislature to actually have a process,” he said at the time. “We will do that when the time is right, but what Gov. Evers is trying, again, to find a way to draw divisions in our state rather than bringing people together by actually sitting at the table and working together.”

Vos and incoming senate majority leader Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, did not reply to a request for comment on this issue.