The nonbinding referendum on the ballot for Crawford County voters provides an opportunity to weigh in on their support or opposition to gerrymandering. In Wisconsin, the manipulation of district boundaries for partisan gains has been an established tradition for decades. Democratic and Republican parties have both used this to their advantage when they are the majority party.
Gerrymandering has become a more acute problem to representative government as advancements in data technology allow the majority political party to analyze voter data to draw district lines with precision to pack their opponents in as few districts as possible. This process has been done in secret by majority party attorneys at taxpayer expense. Expensive challenges and lawsuits have followed. The resulting irregular boundary lines have disrupted many local municipalities and diluted the voice of the people.
It is time for this to stop! Our neighbor Iowa has had it figured out for years. Iowa, which has the same state constitution requirements as Wisconsin, uses a nonpartisan commission. The commission draws plans without voter analysis and political considerations and makes its work public. Legislators then vote to adopt a plan. The result is compact, contiguous districts which have never resulted in expensive challenges and lawsuits.
I urge a “yes” vote to the question on the Crawford County ballot, “Should the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for preparing legislative and congressional redistricting plans?” Democracy will thank you.