MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature on Thursday gave final approval to the GOP’s redistricting plans, after the maps proposed by a nonpartisan commission were lambasted by several Democrats.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who promoted the maps drawn up by the People’s Maps Commission, has promised to veto the GOP-drawn maps, thereby sending the issue to the courts. The Assembly passed their plans Thursday on a 60-38 vote, along strict party lines.
The GOP legislative and congressional maps are largely based on the current districts. Democrats and other opponents to the GOP maps want Republicans to consider alternate proposals, including ones drawn by the commission.
However, 17 of the Assembly’s 38 Democratic lawmakers snubbed the commission plan during a vote on a Republican amendment asking if lawmakers were for or against the plan. Many dissenting Democrats argued it would diminish African American and Latino representation in the Legislature.
“They hoodwinked us, gaslighted us and they tricked us,” Democratic Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez of Milwaukee said of those backing Evers’ maps. She said that although the Evers plan could result in more Democrats in the Legislature, the candidates wouldn’t be the preferred choices of Black and Hispanic voters.
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 hold a 61-38 majority in the Assembly and a 21-12 advantage in the Senate. Republicans also hold five of the state’s eight congressional districts. The proposed maps would largely keep those legislative districts in safe Republican control and make a western Wisconsin congressional district more favorable for the GOP.
There are two pending lawsuits over redistricting, one in the Wisconsin Supreme Court and another in federal court. Democrats want federal courts to draw the maps, as was done the past three times Wisconsin was under divided control. Republicans want the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to draw the maps.