Thursday, September 4, 2014

Support candidates that pledge to implement "Iowa Plan" of legislative redistricting

Gov. Scott Walker has yet to commit to a plan for making the state legislature more representative of the people's wishes

Two candidates for governor have said they would support a measure to reform how Wisconsin draws its legislative districts. One candidate has been silent on the issue.

According to Common Cause in Wisconsin, a group that focuses on (among other things) positive electoral reforms that would work to benefit the people of the state, more than 50 candidates running for office this year support the so-called “Iowa Plan” for redrawing Wisconsin's 99 Assembly and 33 State Senate districts every ten years.

That plan places map-making duties in the hands of a non-partisan group of individuals. In Iowa, that group is the Legislative Service Agency (similar in many ways to Wisconsin’s Legislative Reference Bureau). Many rules apply to Iowa’s redistricting process that work to ensure that partisanship isn’t involved.

For starters, the LSA is the primary map-maker -- though the legislature and the governor must sign off on what they create, no partisan official, or anyone who is even a family member of a partisan official, can take part in the process of creating the maps. Population is the primary factor of what goes into the process, and no political factor is allowed to be considered.

Districts must be contiguous. County boundaries may not be divided when it comes to Congressional districts; for statewide offices, municipalities can only be divided when it’s absolutely necessary to do so, ensuring that voters are of the same geographical area and thus have similar interests that should be represented by their members of the legislature.

Iowa’s plan maintains competitiveness in the state, allowing equal opportunities for Democrats and Republicans (or third parties for that matter) to win elections.

Contrast that with Wisconsin’s maps, which are losing their competitiveness in noticeable ways. In 2012, the first year that Republican-drawn maps were enforced, Wisconsin Democrats running for seats in the Assembly received 174,000 more votes than their GOP counterparts. Yet, Republicans won 60 seats to the Democrats’ 39.

That’s a sign of improperly drawn maps, as well as an uneven legislature that doesn’t truly reflect the will of the people in the state. And it’s why many candidates for office this year, as well as citizens statewide, believe we need a redistricting process that’s more reformed, less partisan, and definitely less secretive than we have now.

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke has pledged her support for redistricting reform. So has Libertarian candidate Robert Burke (a full list of candidates who support reform is available here).

Notably absent from the list of supporters? Gov. Scott Walker, who benefitted greatly from having a Wisconsin map drawn where Republicans would be elected to support his bold and audacious “reforms.”

Walker is wrong for refusing to support reforms to the redistricting process. The Iowa Plan would create an equal playing field for elections in our state. We should support such a reform, if only to create a legislature that’s more representative of the people that it’s supposed to serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment