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“People’s maps” won’t cut muster with Legislature

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As important as it is to ensure Wisconsin has fair elections, the latest idea from Governor Tony Evers seems to miss the mark. Right now, legislative boundaries are drawn every ten years, after the census. According to the state Constitution, whichever political party is in charge of the Legislature at the time of the Census is in charge of drawing the maps. The results haven’t been pretty. Wisconsin’s legislative districts have been called the most gerrymandered in the country, and have been the subject of multiple lawsuits. As a result, in the 2018 election, republicans were able to capture 63 of 99 Assembly seats, despite democrats sweeping all statewide contests. So now Governor Evers is proposing using an executive order to establish a new commission to draw non-partisan political maps. That commission would draw the maps, which Evers calls the people’s maps, and present them to the Legislature. The trouble is the plan has no teeth. The Legislature would have to approve the people’s maps, and with republicans still in charge in the Legislature, that isn’t likely to happen. The Legislature would still be in charge of drawing the legislative boundaries, and could do so as they choose. That’s why the only way to truly reform the process is to change the state’s constitution, to take the power away from the politicians, and put that power in the hands of an independent commission. Evers should focus on supporting that effort, rather than proposing a plan that wouldn’t change the outcome.

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