February 22, 2024: The Badger State Miracle Edition
We’re nearly two months into 2024 – but the fight for fair maps in states across the country continues. Let’s start with some big news out of Wisconsin.
Fair Legislative Maps (Finally) Arrive in Wisconsin
New state legislative voting maps have arrived in Wisconsin – and they finally reflect the state’s actual politics. For years, Wisconsin earned the dubious distinction of being one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. So how did we get here?
Months after a hotly-contested election that reshaped the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the justices released a critical decision in December holding that the state’s legislative maps are unconstitutional. The Court prohibited the use of these gerrymandered maps in future elections.
The state supreme court ordered new maps to be adopted ahead of the 2024 elections. The Republican-controlled state legislature tried to pass new maps in late January only hours after unveiling them to the public. Gov. Tony Evers called that redraw “just more gerrymandering” and quickly vetoed the proposals.
Without a map that legislators and the governor could agree on, the map-drawing process would return to the hands of the state supreme court. Seeking to avoid that outcome, legislators approved the map Evers originally submitted to the court.
This past Monday, Evers signed the new legislative maps into law, reshaping the state’s legislative landscape and delivering fair maps for Wisconsin residents. For the first time in more than a decade, Wisconsin’s legislative maps will no longer be some of the most gerrymandered in the nation.
As Wisconsin’s Fair Maps Coalition put it, under these maps, “Wisconsin voters will pick their elected officials – not the other way around.” Common Cause Wisconsin noted that this fight for fair maps began immediately after passage of the 2011 gerrymander, and that now “the citizens and voters of Wisconsin have prevailed.”
In Other Redistricting News…
- New York: Last week, New York’s redistricting commission approved new congressional voting districts that are now before the state legislature for approval. The new map is based on the court-ordered districts currently in place. This comes after advocates criticized the redistricting commission for lacking transparency and public input. Watch Common Cause New York’s Susan Lerner on Spectrum News discussing how a truly independent model for drawing districts would improve the process for New Yorkers
- Louisiana: More than a year and a half after a federal court ruled that Louisiana’s congressional map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, state lawmakers approved a new map creating a second majority-Black congressional district. The governor quickly signed it into law. Separately, a federal judge ruled in early February that districts in both chambers of the Louisiana State Legislature also violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.