Ahead of 2020 census, Marshfield summit seeks to raise redistricting awareness

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) -- With the 2020 census count on April 1 just months away, groups like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are raising awareness Thursday around the Fair Maps for Wisconsin Summit on Nov. 9 in Marshfield.

The summit seeks to educate participants, of which a couple hundred are expected, on Wisconsin redistricting, and reinforce the work done by 48 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties in passing resolutions asking the state legislature for nonpartisan redistricting laws.

The state legislature is responsible for drawing both Wisconsin’s state and congressional voting district maps. After the 2010 census, Wisconsin was downsized to eight congressional districts in a move that has generated heated debate over what some see as districts drawn to maximize Republican influence.

“People just want fairness—simple, basic, Wisconsin-nice fairness,” Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Matt Rothschild said at a press conference outside the Marshfield City Hall on Thursday. “A level playing field should not be too much to ask for.”

The hope for the summit is to create regional grassroots groups that will help put pressure on legislators and local county boards who haven’t yet passed resolutions asking for nonpartisan redistricting, Rothschild said. Eight Wisconsin counties have also added referendums in elections to that effect, something that Rothschild said is coming next to Wood County.

In north central Wisconsin, Marathon, Oneida, Vilas and Price counties have not yet passed resolutions through their county boards on the topic.

Amy Sue Vruwink, a former state assembly representative and a current aide to Democrat congressman Ron Kind, said, “You actually had to go door to door in election years and non-election years to listen to the people of the district. And unfortunately now, that doesn’t happen anymore.”

The summit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, League of Women Voters, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Oregon Area Progressives, Fair Elections Project, and other organizations. NewsChannel 7 has reached out to area Republican state representatives for comment, and will update this article if we hear back.