“Gerrymandering plaintiffs unanimously rejected” was the headline on a La Crosse Tribune paper a week or more ago. The sub-headline read “U.S. Supreme Court says they lack standing” but then a majority of the justices agreed to send the case back to the district court so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to try again with their complaints. This legal action does not resolve the issue of alleged rigging of the districts when the Wisconsin Legislature re-districted after the 2010 Census, it only says the plaintiffs themselves were not visibly harmed by this action.
It did resolve what district maps will be used for the November 2018 elections and that will be the same district maps used beginning with the 2012 election cycle. There were several recall elections of state legislators after Act 10 was passed and I am not sure when the first election with the new maps was actually held. Justice moves slowly and I would suspect that if the current plaintiffs, or if other plaintiffs, take up the cause the current maps will still be used in 2020 and then redrawn based on the 2020 Census.
One significant question is “Redrawn by whom?” Currently the State Legislature is responsible for this matter but there are those who want to change the process. The Monroe County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for a different process but I fear they were influenced by a group that was pushing the effort at last year’s Monroe County Fair using a map that was questionable and misleading. I certainly agree a better job could be done in drawing the districting maps; just look at the 70th Assembly District, the 24th State Senate District, and the 3rd Congressional Districts for geographic proof.
But, the plaintiffs were looking at election results and claimed some citizens were denied their voice apparently because the election results provided Republican majorities in both the Assembly and State Senate. However, in the 15 partisan state-wide elections starting in 2010 to the present, the Republicans have won over 70% of the time. Is there any surprise that the Republicans control both the State Senate and the Assembly?
There must be a touch of common sense in the process and the end result of drawing district maps. Smaller units such as City Wards and County Board Districts should be drawn before larger units such as Assembly and Congressional Districts. County boundaries should be honored better than they currently are. I am not convinced that dividing nearby Monroe County between two Congressional Districts and three State Senate Districts (meaning three Assembly Districts) is either the only solution or the ideal solution!
The next routine redistricting will follow the 2020 Census but that could make the process of redistricting an election issue in 2018. This is on the assumption that changes must be effected in 2019 to impact the process in 2021. Get informed and then ask the candidates for Assembly and State Senate for their thoughts on redistricting.