Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States released the decision in Rucho v. Common Cause, a case addressing the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

The ruling was a disappointing one for many of us in Wisconsin, dashing hopes that the Supreme Court would set standards for fair maps in Wisconsin after years under a partisan gerrymander.

Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing legislative districts to include some groups and exclude others, to the advantage of certain political candidates. It disrupts our democracy, allowing politicians to choose their constituents, instead of people choosing their politicians and valuing the votes of some people over others.

This creates a spiral of negative effects: politicians become less accountable to their constituents; constituents don’t feel represented by their leaders, but cannot unseat them; and as a result, voter turnout and political participation is lackluster. This damages our democracy and harms us all.

The issue of partisan gerrymandering is familiar in Wisconsin. Our own case on the issue, Gill v. Whitford, was heard in the Supreme Court last year before being sent back down to the district court for further evidence.

Wisconsin’s current districts were drawn in 2011 by a Republican Legislature, approved by the Republican Gov. Scott Walker and designed to maximize the influence of Republican votes and minimize that of Democrats. (Prior redistricting was typically completed under divided government, and reflected a compromise between the parties).

In November 2018, Democrats won 53% of all the Assembly votes cast statewide, but earned only 36% of the seats.

The Supreme Court has decided that partisan gerrymanders are a purely political problem — that is, federal courts will not address the issue. It must be solved in our state legislatures by state law. This ruling effectively ends the case for Gill v. Whitford, but it does not end the fight for fair electoral maps.

We have a responsibility to end this undemocratic practice. We know the solution: non-partisan redistricting reform.

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Establishing non-partisan redistricting in Wisconsin will help ensure competitive districts and elections, increase civic engagement and ensure accountability for our elected officials.

Recently, I joined a bipartisan group of legislators in cosponsoring 2019 Assembly Bill 303/2019 Senate Bill 288, which would create a non-partisan redistricting process for Wisconsin.

If this bill passes in the legislature, it would create an even playing field, so no one party can abuse the system and deprive voters of equal, responsible, accountable legislative representation.

The Supreme Court decided that partisan gerrymandering is a purely political question, so now it’s up to us.

Let’s demand that our legislators support AB 303/SB288 and fair electoral maps in our state. Seventy-two percent of Wisconsin voters support creating a non-partisan redistricting commission, according to a recent Marquette University Law School Poll — let’s make our voices heard.

The fact is, voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around. Gerrymandering threatens to completely undermine our democratic process and the people’s faith in it, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time for all of us to act to defend our democracy and demand fair electoral maps, regardless of party or partisan affiliation.

We can make Wisconsin a state free from partisan gerrymandering. Will you join us?

Establishing non-partisan redistricting in Wisconsin will help ensure competitive districts and elections, increase civic engagement and ensure accountability for our elected officials.

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State Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, represents the 66th Assembly District.


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