HUDSON — St. Croix County voters got one step closer to having their say on how the state should carve up its legislative and congressional districts.
St. Croix County Administration Committee members on Monday, Dec. 16, approved a request for a “fair maps” question to be placed on the spring election ballot. The issue now moves to a full St. Croix County Board vote.
“Redistricting to achieve partisan gains is improper, whether it is done by Republicans or Democrats,” according to language in the resolution passed by the Administration Committee.
The resolution calls for a referendum question on the April 7, 2020, ballot asking, “Should St. Croix County request that the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional plans and maps?”
The county passed a similar resolution in 2017 that supported the “fair maps” concept.
“It needs a little initiative again,” said St. Croix County Board member Roy Sjoberg, who serves on the administration panel. “Let’s let our voters of St. Croix County register their votes on this issue and then perhaps our local representatives will bring this up.”
Redistricting, which shapes districts by population, begins after the census is completed next year.
Critics of Wisconsin’s system argue it allows politicians to exploit the process by drawing district lines that benefit the ruling party’s election chances.
Literature attached to the Administration Committee’s packet describes how both parties have used the redistricting process in their favor, but said the 2011 process was the “latest and most egregious example.”
“With sophisticated computer modeling based on past voting patterns and other demographic data, the leadership, in secret, prepared several different maps by moving some lines here and some lines there, and each successive map predicted an increase in the GOP’s seats,” the attachment states. “The final map chosen was one that predicted one of the largest increases.”
A lawsuit involving Wisconsin GOP redistricting was dismissed this year in federal court after the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a related case that the judiciary did not have a role in deciding the process.
The Administration Committee’s unanimous vote followed appeals from six residents who spoke during the public comment portion.
“No one, not Democrats or Republicans, should be able to alter the voice of the people,” New Richmond resident Linda Hendrix said. “Fair maps are essential for making sure the voice of the people is heard.”