In a little over four years the US will undergo another census. With the 2020 Census will come another round of drawing district lines by whatever political party happens to be in power. In 2011 the Republicans were in control of both the Assembly and the Senate as well as the Governorship and the districts they drew reflected their bias.
The results of this Republican bias can be shown in the outcome for the 2012 election for State Assembly seats. While 53% of the votes cast were for Democrats, the Republicans won two-thirds of the seats. Stated another way while the majority of votes were cast for the Democrats, the Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats. One result of this system is that some votes count more than others. In this case, democratic votes which constituted the majority won only one third of the seats. Democrats have used gerrymandering with similar results.
Why does this matter? For one thing it discourages people from running for office if the district a potential candidate lives in is weighted for one party or the other. It also means your vote counts for less in districts that contain more voters for one party vs. the other called the efficiency gap. When districts are representing one party over another then elected officials are less accountable. Why should they listen to their constituents if their reelection is all but assured?
What can be done to correct this situation? Ask the politicians who are running for state offices this time around if they are in favor of a non-partisan method for drawing voting districts. It has been done in other states such as Iowa. In fact, in 2016 nine other states are making a push for redistricting reform according to the Brennen Center for Justice. Wisconsin needs to be one of them.
League of Women Voters-Wisconsin Rapids
5761 Honeysuckle Court
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494