(originally posted on our website - March 28, 2013)
One of the hardest things, I think, about being a good citizen is to pay attention and work for improvements when there is no immediate crisis. There are just so many other d**ned crises to work on!
Every ten years, Wisconsin citizens are disgusted with our highly politicized process of redrawing legislative district boundaries in response to the decennial census, and every ten years we let it slide. Because we did not pay enough attention to the issue of our state's redistricting procedures a decade ago, Wisconsin currently has a legislature and a congressional delegation that reflect the will of the Republican Party more than they reflect the will of the electorate.
It's time to stop this madness. Jay Heck, of Common Cause,
writes in today's (March 28, 2013) Wisconsin State Journal,
"Redistricting reform must pass and be enacted into law soon for it to be in place for 2021. The closer we draw to 2021, the more incumbent legislators will view reform as a threat to re-election. If we further delay redistricting reform, the odds that the Legislature will reform itself diminish daily, so time is of the essence."
"Wisconsin’s last redistricting process, in 2011, was among the most secretive, hyper-partisan and unfair in the nation and the worst in Wisconsin’s history. Adding insult to injury, it has cost state taxpayers almost $2 million thus far to pay lawyers to work behind closed doors devising noncompetitive congressional and state legislative districts without public input or scrutiny," Heck wrote.
This is, however, a problem with a solution. Heck explains: "Very soon, a new redistricting reform measure will be introduced in the Legislature. It is based on the method Iowa has been using since 1980. There, a nonpartisan legislative agency is charged with redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines after every census without political or partisan consideration and with the responsibility of drawing compact districts that keep communities of interest intact. The Legislature can only vote yes or no on the plan produced by the nonpartisan entity.
"The result is astonishing. Iowa has far more competitive elections for both the Legislature and Congress than Wisconsin and the cost to the taxpayers in Iowa for redistricting is virtually nothing. Iowans have confidence in the system, and now that they have become used to it, so do Iowa’s legislators. It works in Iowa and would work in Wisconsin."
I plan on getting in touch with Common Cause to ask how we can help. Who is with me?
- Karen McKim