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WI Redistricting: Arizona and Iowa Examples Touted

October 4, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - In a few weeks, a new Wisconsin governor and state legislature will be elected, and one of their tasks will be to re-draw the state’s political boundaries. Mike McCabe, head of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says every 10 years it’s the same thing: Democrats pack their districts with their constituents, and Republicans do the same.

"And so what you end up with are very lopsided districts, either overwhelmingly Republican or overwhelmingly Democratic."

McCabe says Wisconsin could take a cue from Arizona, which has an independent commission in charge of drawing political boundaries. Iowa has a similar system.

"They have a non-partisan legislative service agency draw the lines, and that agency has to follow specific criteria that are spelled out in state law."

McCabe says the present system of drawing political boundaries is a built-in recipe for partisan animosity and gridlock, the sort of thing voters are so frustrated with.

"And so the people who end up getting elected are really good at appealing to their base, really good at being fierce partisans, but they're no darn good at going up to the Capitol and working across party lines to actually get the people's business done and solve problems."

McCabe says in a democracy, voters are supposed to choose their representatives. Every ten years, it's the other way around, says McCabe, because under the present system, our representatives get to choose their voters.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett is a proponent of adopting a system like Arizona and Iowa have, but Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker's campaign says Barrett is a partisan Democrat who can't be trusted with creating a bipartisan proposal.

McCabe is at 608-255-4260.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI