THE PEOPLE’S MAPS COMMISSION: BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE
Partisan gerrymandering is one of the greatest detriments to truly having a democracy that works.
States are obligated to redraw electoral districts after every census. Population shifts over a decade make it logical to adjust lines so districts are evenly represented. In the past, self-serving politicians learned, through trial and error, how to manipulate the district maps in such ways that people of color would be disenfranchised.
Eventually, the courts ruled, that drawing district lines to disenfranchise people of color was unconstitutional.
This ruling didn’t completely stop partisan gerrymandering, though. It is just becoming more sophisticated and diabolical.
Partisan gerrymandering has become easier for politicians and data experts to determine how people lean politically and draw district lines in such a way that makes the incumbent unbeatable. This practice diminishes your voice in government. It completely defeats the purpose of a representative democracy if politicians can count on winning no matter how poorly they represent us.
In 2009, I co-authored legislation and held a public hearing as Chair of the Assembly Elections and Campaign Reform Committee to fix this manipulative practice. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass.
In this legislative session, I supported legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting process, and also introduced legislation to establish a constitutional amendment for non-partisan redistricting reform.
Most recently, during the State of the State address, Governor Evers announced the creation of the People’s Maps Commission, which will consist of 9 people of Wisconsin, excluding politicians or lobbyists, to draw the next legislative maps in 2021.
Just last week, the Governor released the official details for the People’s Map Commission application and the selection process. The members of the Commission will be chosen by the Selection Panel, which includes 3 retired judges.
The Commission will hold 8 hearings, one in each congressional district, to hear directly from experts, stakeholders, elected officials and the general public. Following the hearings, the Commission will apply the U.S. Census data to draw the maps. Once these maps are created, the Legislature will then decide to accept the non-partisan Commission’s maps or draw their own.
The People’s Maps Commission will help fix our broken partisan gerrymandering system and put an end to politicians picking their voters.
The Majority Party, blinded by the power they hold, hired a bunch of slick lawyers to draw electoral maps for them instead of using a nonpartisan commission. They even signed secrecy pledges to prevent the public from seeing the maps! We need an open process to create fair maps and end map manipulation for good.
Non-partisan redistricting reform is not a partisan issue. It is a people issue. We all deserve a government that works for us and represents the values of its citizens.
(Senator Smith represent the 31st Senate District which includes all of Buffalo and Pepin counties and portions of Trempealeau, Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire and Jackson counties and very small portions of Chippewa and St. Croix counties.)