Possible Changes for Wisconsin Voting Districts

Changes could be coming to how redistricting is done in Wisconsin. That's because of some legislation that would switch authority from politicians to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

A public hearing was held Friday morning in Marshfield and Friday afternoon in Wausau.

Bill AB 185 would take the redistricting job out of the hands of the current majority party and give it to a five-person redistricting advisory commission. Democratic representatives say this is important because it would create fairness for voters.

Representatives say current law gives the majority party the power to draw district lines-- placing voters where the party would have the best chances of getting elected and disadvantaging voters who are not apart of that party. This is called gerrymandering. By having a non-partisan commission representatives say it would save you money from lawyers fees that are used throughout the redistricting process and you would also be better represented.

"It would save a significant amount of tax-payer dollars. In this last cycle, we spent $2.1 million dollars. We are looking at following the Iowa model which only spends $1,000 every 10 years, so we would save a significant amount of money, we would increase collegiality, get people working together on the issues that affect our constituents most. I see no drawbacks,” Explains Mandy Wright (D-Wausau) of the 85th Assembly District.

Many districts right now are spread out and even divided cities, like Marshfield. The new commission that would be created would comprise of two representatives from each party and one that both parties would collaboratively vote on.

This bill would not take effect for seven years. Redistricting must be done every 10 years.

Representatives say the bill would create more district lines along county lines, rather than through them; benefiting voters with better media coverage as well as an easier understanding on where their districts lie.

Representatives at Friday forum said the main goal is to achieve an equalized voting population.

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