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Another Push for New Political Boundaries in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) is pushing legislation that would take the task of drawing political boundaries away from politicians and give the job to a nonpartisan board. Credit: legis.Wisconsin.gov
Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) is pushing legislation that would take the task of drawing political boundaries away from politicians and give the job to a nonpartisan board. Credit: legis.Wisconsin.gov
September 14, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – Many clean government advocates say Wisconsin's political map is drawn in a clearly unfair manner to safeguard political strongholds.

And they want to put an end to gerrymandering, the process of manipulating political boundaries to give one party an advantage over the other.

State law requires that every 10 years political district lines be adjusted to reflect changes in population.

But Democratic State Rep. Mark Spreitzer of Beloit says that's not enough. He says the gerrymandering has to end, and suggests Wisconsin follow the model Iowa is successfully using to keep the districts fair.

"Instead of having the legislature redraw maps every 10 years, and allowing the political majority to draw maps that keep themselves in office and protect incumbents, instead the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau would draw a map based on a set of standards that make sure that it's fair, keeps communities together," he states.

As they stand now, some of the legislative districts split communities into parts, reflecting Republican and Democratic strongholds in various neighborhoods. Iowa has successfully used a nonpartisan approach to drawing political boundaries for the past 30 years.

Spreitzer and others believe that taking the map-making power away from the political parties will result in a legislature that is far more accountable to the people.

"Whether it's the budget that was just adopted in July or the attack on open records or our Government Accountability Board – those are policies that really are indefensible to most voters, and yet I think the majority is pursuing them because they know they won't be held accountable," he adds.

According to Spreitzer, heavily gerrymandered political districts, like the ones Wisconsin has now, discourage competition and insure that the party that holds a seat in any given district will be able to hold onto that seat.

"Far too many of our elections are uncontested,” Spreitzer maintains. “Nearly half of the Assembly seats had no opponent of the other party in the last election cycle – I was one of those that didn't have an opponent of the other party. Only about one in 10 Assembly seats was considered competitive."

Spreitzer is hoping the legislation will move forward and get a public hearing, something that did not happen when similar legislation was introduced in the last session.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI