Letter to the Editor: Support the Governor’s Proposal for a Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

Gerrymandering is one of the chief causes of the vitriolic partisan divide plaguing our democracy at both the national and state levels. Gerrymandering is the redrawing of voting maps in ways that favor one party. Gerrymandering is achieved by a governing party (1) “packing” – which consists of redrawing district lines so as to include as many members of the opposition party in districts in which they already have a majority, thereby diluting the opposition party’s strength in the surrounding districts, and (2) “cracking” – splitting up the opposition voters in a particular district, and assigning them to other districts, so as to strengthen the governing party in that district.

Gerrymandering results in the governing party becoming successful by razor thin margins in districts that were formerly controlled by the opposition, and in “wasting” large numbers of opposition voters by crowding them into districts they already control. Gerrymandering enables politicians to choose their own voters, rather than allowing voters to choose their representatives. In effect, it decreases the weight of an opposition party member’s vote, while increasing that of its own members’. This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

There is a growing national movement in which 20 states have now taken the redrawing of voting maps out of the hands of legislatures and given it to nonpartisan commissions. There is growing evidence that Wisconsinites, too, overwhelmingly support such an approach:

• 72% of Wisconsinites prefer having a nonpartisan commission – rather than the legislature – to do the redistricting.

• In 46 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, County Boards of Supervisors have passed resolutions endorsing the adoption of a commission.

• In all eight of the counties with referendum 62% or more supported establishing a commission.

Governor Evers’ budget proposes adopting a nonpartisan redistricting commission that is very similar to one that Iowa developed 30 years. (See Republicans are threatening to strip the proposal from the budget.

Wisconsin is now ridiculed nationally as an example of just how bad gerrymandering can get. Enough! Let your representatives know that it’s time to get Wisconsin back on track. It’s time to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

Jack Fiedler

Sister Bay, Wisconsin