New Wisconsin legislative and congressional districts were announced in the Wisconsin Senate this week, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
For the first time in Wisconsin’s history, residents of the state were able to contribute to the discussion. Through a website, Wisconsinites were able to provide their input, ranging from identifying communities of interest, all the way to drawing out the entire state themselves.
“The public has had an unprecedented level of input and influence over the map-drawing efforts,” said LeMahieu. “We encouraged Wisconsinites to play an active role in the process, and their participation has fundamentally shaped the way the maps were drawn.”
The project is part of a movement of making the process of redrawing state districts more transparent, as Wisconsin Republicans have previously faced controversy regarding gerrymandering — the process of manipulating districts lines favorably towards one party.
“The people of Wisconsin want transparency, they want checks and balances and they want
cooperation in how their districts are drawn,” said Speaker Vos, “We are confident these maps are fair for all Wisconsinites.”
Not everyone was convinced about this project, however, with Democratic Assembly Minority Gordon Hintz calling the new maps “nothing more than gerrymandering 2.0.”
Governor Tony Evers had simultaneously led his own committee, which produced its own proposed districts. Speaker Vos said Wednesday that both citizens and the Governor’s maps were taken into consideration.
District maps last a decade, and are an important part of the electoral process. Many Wisconsin Democrats worry that inaccurate district lines have allowed Republicans to maintain an unfair advantage in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, claiming that they are trying to prevent another decade of that injustice.
Lawsuits have already been filed by both sides, ahead of the approval of any plans. Conservatives filed suit in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, whilst Democrats and their allies have filed two cases in federal courts.
The maps will now head to public hearings, and will likely end up in the legislature in November. Gov. Evers is unlikely to sign off on any plans that pass the legislature, however, and the final decision on the districts will likely fall to the courts.