MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin state Senate on Monday approved a redistricting plan similar to one passed a decade ago in an apparent attempt to hold the line on GOP majorities in the Legislature.
The Senate voted along party lines, 21-12, in favor of GOP-drawn maps that would stay in place for the next 10 years in legislative and congressional districts. The Assembly is set to vote on the maps Thursday. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promised early to veto the maps.
Redistricting is the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state’s political boundaries based on the latest census showing how populations have changed in neighborhoods, cities and counties since 2010. Mapmakers can create an advantage for their political party by packing opponents’ voters into a few districts or spreading them among multiple districts — a process known as gerrymandering.
“Republicans’ new gerrymandered maps are modeled after the same gerrymandered ones we’ve had for a decade,” Evers tweeted Monday. “I won’t sign them. Wisconsinites want and deserve #fairmaps now.”
It’s likely that the issue will be decided in court. A GOP-backed lawsuit was filed with the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court and a similar lawsuit was brought by Democrats in federal court.
Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, of Milwaukee, described the GOP-drawn maps as “an abortion of democracy,” and said the maps are based on a “newfound religion” to preserve existing districts, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, of Mason, proposed amendments to the maps that would implement what she described as a fair alternative. Senate Majority Devin LeMahieu, of Oostburg, proposed an amendment that would take up maps drawn by a governor’s commission to force an up or down vote on the issue.
Also Monday, the Senate voted 22-11, with Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor joining Republicans, in voting against maps drawn by Democrats as well as boundaries proposed by the governor’s commission. Taylor, who is Black, said all proposals fail to meet requirements in the federal Voting Rights Act intended to make sure minority voters can have representation.
“This process that you have created is all about you just keeping power and no concern whatsoever for people of color or for competitiveness,” said Taylor, from Milwaukee “Today I’m not supporting any of these maps, but a process different than yours is necessary. It is necessary for fairness.”