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Watchdog Says WI Voters Are Getting A Raw Deal

July 19, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin political watchdog group says the state's system of re-drawing political boundary lines every 10 years is unfair and rigged in favor of the incumbents. Mike McCabe, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says legislators draw the boundary lines to include as many voters from their own party as possible, making the election outcome almost a foregone conclusion.

"It's a raw deal for voters. It's great for incumbent office-holders, but it's lousy for voters because it takes away the voters' power to shake things up."

Since the last re-districting following the 2000 census, McCabe says that state legislative incumbents have been re-elected 95 percent of the time. He describes Wisconsin as a "purple" state, but notes that individual voting districts have been designed to be bright red or dark blue, to enhance incumbent protection. McCabe's group and others are calling for the system to be reformed.

On Thursday at the state Capitol there will be a redistricting forum, open to the public. McCabe says the forum will have two main goals.

"What we want to do is start getting people aware of the extent of the problem and also begin to train them about how to make a difference in the system."

Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett is calling for reform of the system, but McCabe says it will take a big push.

"It'll only happen if citizens come to terms with how essential this is to our representation in our government. In a democracy, voters are supposed to choose their representatives, not the other way around."

More information is available by contacting the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 608-255-4260 or Information about the public forum is available at

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI