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HomeGeneralWisconsin Governor Signs New Legislative District Maps Into Law

Wisconsin Governor Signs New Legislative District Maps Into Law

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Wisconsin Governor-Tony Evers
Source: ABC7 Chicago/YouTube

After months of debate and legal challenges over redistricting, the Wisconsin Governor has signed new legislative district maps. The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the maps for voting districts. They did this to avoid the possibility of the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court drawing the lines.

Democrats were happy about the signing because it was a big win in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Republicans have controlled the Legislature for over ten years. Despite that, Democrats have won most statewide elections in recent years.

For over a decade, Democrats tried to challenge these maps, but they were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until the state Supreme Court’s control shifted in August, with the election of liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz, that Democrats found success.

The existing map heavily favored Republicans. They held 64 of 99 seats in the state Assembly and 22 of 33 in the state Senate. The day after Protasiewicz joined the court, Democrats filed a lawsuit. Republicans argued that Protasiewicz shouldn’t participate in the lawsuit because she had criticized the GOP-drawn maps during her campaign.

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She had called them “rigged” and “unfair.” However, she did not step aside from the case. In December, Protasiewicz’s vote became important when the court ruled that the current maps were unconstitutional.

They found that some districts were not contiguous, meaning parts of them were not connected geographically to the rest of the district. The court stated that if the Legislature failed to pass maps acceptable to Governor Evers, they would draw the lines themselves.

They ordered new lines to be drawn before the 2024 elections. The new map followed a change in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, from a 4-3 conservative majority to a 4-3 liberal edge.

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The court reviewed maps from various sources, including those submitted by the governor and Democratic and Republican lawmakers. They also reviewed the sources submitted by other parties involved in the redistricting lawsuit.

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Consultants hired by the court concluded that the maps proposed by the Legislature and a conservative law firm were “partisan gerrymanders.” As a result, the court was left with four maps drawn by Democrats to consider. The Legislature passed Governor Evers’ maps on Tuesday to meet the mid-March deadline set by the state elections commission. 

Republicans said they had no other choice, while some Democrats voted against the governor’s plans. “It pains me to say it, but Gov. Evers gets a huge win today,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said just before the bill passed, adding that under the new maps, “the Legislature will be up for grabs.”

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Another Republican State Senator, Van Wanggard, commented, “Republicans were not stuck between a rock and hard place. It was a matter of choosing to be stabbed, shot, poisoned, or led to the guillotine. We chose to be stabbed, so we can live to fight another day.”

ALSO READ: ‘Stop Contaminating Our Water’: Wisconsin City Takes Makers of ‘Forever Chemicals’ to Court

Under the new maps, Democrats are expected to gain seats in both the state Assembly and Senate. However, legal battles are ongoing in some states over the U.S. House and state legislative districts drawn after the 2020 census. Democrats have also asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to consider challenging the state’s congressional district lines.

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