The 2020 Census has revealed population shifts in the state of Wisconsin. The districts are now unequally populated and the state’s maps were already one of the most egregious gerrymanders in America over the past decade. Moreover, the existing districts dilute the ability of Black voters in Milwaukee to elect their preferred candidates.
The U.S. Census Bureau released the data from the 2020 census which will be used to redraw voting districts across the country. The maps that are drawn this year will shape our lives and our communities for the next decade. They impact not just whether there will be equity in representation but also whether there will be equity in the distribution of resources.
On behalf of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), Voces de la Frontera and League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and three individual voters, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin on Aug. 19, 2021 alleging malapportionment of the existing state legislative districts. The complaint asks the court to set a schedule to consider a court-drawn plan, given the likelihood the legislature and governor are unable to agree on new maps.
On Sept. 7, 2021, CLC and partners filed an amended complaint alleging that Wisconsin’s current state assembly plan violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The assembly map dilutes the voting strength of Black voters in the Milwaukee area by packing them in excessively high numbers in fewer districts and by cracking them into districts where they cannot elect their preferred candidates.
CLC and partners submitted an alternative plan with seven Black voting age population majority districts, which would provide Black voters with the opportunity to elect their preferred candidates in additional districts.
CLC is fighting to ensure that this upcoming decade’s maps are fair and treat all Wisconsin voters equally. No matter our race or zip code, all voters should have equal say in the decisions that shape our future.
No matter the social or political issues that are a voter’s ultimate concern, redistricting is at the root of whether they will be able to effectively advocate for that issue over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the districts that are drawn determine how resources will be distributed—and if that distribution will be fair and just.
Voters should expect that the community districting process will be transparent and map drawers will consider the diverse interests of community members. Far too often, however, politicians manipulate the redistricting process by splitting voters into districts that make it harder to keep those politicians accountable at the ballot box. In Wisconsin, this has been the case recently.
In an environment conducive to good map drawing, the Wisconsin legislature and governor would draw new maps that accurately reflect the population and don’t advantage one party over another. Unfortunately, in each of the previous four decades, when control over Wisconsin's government has been divided between members of the two parties, the legislature and governor have been unbale to draw maps. In the most recent round in 2011, one party controlled the process, but the maps were twice subject to litigation—including the case that CLC brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 in Gill v. Whitford. Gridlock in the Wisconsin state government should not prevent Wisconsinites from having their constitutional rights protected. This is CLC’s first redistricting lawsuit of this cycle, and we will continue to advocate for fair maps during this critical period.