The Gerrymander Has Been Slayed: Wisconsinites Get Fair Maps for 2024 Election

Tony Evers seated at a desk holding documents over his head surrounded by people cheering and holding signs
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs new legislative maps into law Monday, February 19, 2024, at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA Today Network

For more than a decade, Wisconsinites suffered under unfair and unconstitutional state legislative maps that essentially guaranteed one-party control of the Legislature — one of the most egregious gerrymanders in the country.

Now, the gerrymander is no more.  

On February 19, 2024, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed fair maps — which he proposed and the state Legislature passed into law — cementing a massive win for democracy and giving a voice to Wisconsinites who have been silenced for far too long by gerrymandered maps deliberately designed to drown them out.

All Wisconsinites — no matter where they live in the state or which party they support — now have a fair shot at making their voice heard in the 2024 election. As Mark Gaber, senior director of redistricting at Campaign Legal Center and a native Wisconsinite, put it during his oral argument at the Wisconsin Supreme Court: “When voters go and vote, the maps should reflect how they voted.”  

This victory follows a lawsuit filed in August 2023 by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), in partnership with Law Forward, the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, and Arnold & Porter, on behalf of 19 Wisconsin voters from across the state who had their voices silenced by the old maps.  

Back in 2011, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers signed secrecy agreements and drew new district lines behind closed doors to ensure one-party control of the Legislature. As a result, Wisconsinites endured over a decade of living and voting in districts that were some of the most politically skewed in the nation.  

In 2021, the Legislature passed maps, in SB621, that worsened the state legislative gerrymander. Despite being vetoed by the governor, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered the Legislature's maps into place following the census.

However, the Wisconsin constitution requires that districts be contiguous — meaning that all parts of a district must physically touch with no detached pieces — yet, in the Legislature’s maps, over two-thirds of Wisconsinites lived in noncontiguous senate or assembly districts. Some voters lived in detached bits of territory miles away from the rest of their district.  

As a result, CLC and co-counsel filed suit, alleging that the state legislative districts violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s contiguity requirement. Following extensive briefing and oral argument, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed, finding the Legislature’s map unconstitutional.

Because of this legal victory, Wisconsin lawmakers passed and Gov. Evers signed into law fair and responsive maps that give every Wisconsin voter a long overdue say in who represents them. In fact, this process marks the first time the governor has signed legislatively-passed state Assembly and Senate maps in more than 50 years.

Despite consistently having some of the closest election results in the country, for 13 years one party had a manufactured and guaranteed near-supermajority in the Legislature. Now, thanks to this lawsuit and tireless advocacy, Wisconsin voters will have a meaningful say in legislative outcomes and a fair chance to determine who will govern them. 

Adam is a Media Associate, Voting Rights and Redistricting at CLC.