One of the lesser of the business items on the agenda for the St. Croix County Board to vote on at its May 02, 2017 meeting is a resolution insisting that the Wisconsin State Legislature create a completely non-partisan procedure for the preparation of the upcoming legislative and congressional redistricting plans.
Every 10 years, consistent with the results of each US census, the boundaries for state legislative, and congressional representation districts are re-adjusted based on their populations so that each district has approximately the same number of people represented by each elected representative. Sounds simple, right?
It’s generally the political majority party in charge at the time the redistricting is due who gets to choose those boundaries. So of course, they do everything they can to create district areas that contain as many like-minded voters as possible in order to gain a statistical advantage in future elections. This leads to some pretty strangely shaped district boundaries. This process of selectively choosing favorable boundaries based on the demographics of voters who live there is called “Gerrymandering”.
Wisconsin is considered one of the most heavily Gerrymandered states in the country. In 2012, following the redistricting after the 2010 census, the Republicans won the majority of the state legislative seats despite the Democrats winning the state-wide popular vote. Since that time, the Democrats have been pushing hard for a “fair, and non-partisan” redistricting plan.
The efforts have been met with some success. In November 2016, a three federal judge panel ruled the current districting plan to be unconstitutional, setting the stage for a Supreme Court showdown. It’s estimated that Republicans have successfully Gerrymandered 55% of congressional districts nationwide.
This resolution by the County Board is essentially insisting that the Governor and the legislature implement a “non-partisan” redistricting plan, and form a 3rd party commission for redrawing the boundaries. Without specifically stating the fact, this resolution is in support of WI Senate Bill 13, introduced by 13 Democrat senators to do just that. With a Republican majority in the state legislature, it’s doubtful that this bill will go anywhere, but this is the Board’s way of showing support for the Democrats in the State Senate.