FAIR ELECTIONS PROJECT
Our current gerrymandered legislative districts are the “worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history.” In many cases, our votes in such a district are meaningless.
In the last election, Democratic votes outnumbered Republican votes. Yet two-thirds of the State Assembly seats are held by Republicans. Something is drastically wrong.
Here is good news. The Fair Elections Project has been launched to oppose partisan gerrymandering. The Project aims to ask the courts “to implement a standard that can measure when there’s too much partisan gerrymandering, violating the Constitutional rights of the citizens of a given state.”
The Fair Elections Project is also working with citizens in other states to bring suits against other gerrymandered maps, whether drawn by Democrats or Republicans. Yes, both parties have gerrymandered. The Project is making sure it stays non-partisan.
There is no hope that our Republican-controlled Assembly will pass a law to change the method of districting in Wisconsin. “The hope lies in the suit that 12 Wisconsin citizens filed in federal court demanding relief for the violation of their Constitutional rights.”
The good news is that the federal “three-judge panel in Wisconsin’s Western District has ruled unanimously in Whitford v Nichol that the case can continue and denied the state’s motion to dismiss. This is the first partisan gerrymandering case to survive a motion to dismiss in almost 30 years, and a trial date is set for May 2016.”
“The suit includes two expert reports proving that the gerrymander in Wisconsin is extreme and far outside Constitutional norms and proposes a clear standard to determine whether a gerrymander is acceptable or not.”
Furthermore, the Wisconsin maps were drawn in a secret way to give clear advantage to the incumbent majority. Modern technology makes it possible to draw district boundaries to permanently disenfranchise some voters.
The co-chairs of the Project are former State Senators Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Tim Cullen (D-Janesville. Former State Senator Dan Theno (R-Ashland) is also providing leadership.
Schultz said “Democracy requires access for every citizen, and it requires truly competitive elections. When elections aren’t competitive, we see corruption.”
Cullen said, “These districts have clearly been drawn to protect not only incumbents, but a permanent majority that doesn’t need to worry about voters. Many of our fellow citizens—from all political persuasion, from all walks of life—simply have lost faith that their government is listening to them.”
Materials about the campaign and lawsuit are posted at fairelectionsproject.org.
You can find the campaign at WIfairElections on Facebook and Twitter.