The maps would still give Republicans an advantage in Wisconsin elections, but not one as large as GOP-drawn maps.
Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday submitted revised maps after the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld legislative Republicans’ standard of maps with the “least changes” to the 2011 maps—a standard that was invented in September to ensure the next decade’s maps are just as gerrymandered as the last decade’s.
Evers’ announcement came after he abandoned maps created by his nonpartisan commission because they would not have complied with the Supreme Court’s “least changes” order. The new maps, according to Evers’ office, make fewer changes to existing boundaries than those drawn by Republicans. They would still provide the GOP with a significant advantage in elections, but they would prevent Republicans’ from obtaining a veto-proof supermajority in the Legislature.
“The ‘least changes’ criteria is total bunk and not supported by statute or the constitution. It was wholly made up by the ultra-partisan Supreme Court majority in order to help their political overlords, Robin Vos and Devin LeMahieu,” said Fair Elections Project Director Sachin Chheda. “All that said, these maps proposed by Governor Evers are fairer, more compliant with state and federal law and redistricting criteria, and even more compliant with the ridiculous ‘least changes’ criteria than the rigged Republican proposal.”
Evers vetoed the Republican maps, sending the matter of redistricting to the courts. Evers submitted the maps created by the Peoples’ Maps Commission (PMC) as an alternative to Republicans’ maps to the court. The court rejected the PMC maps.
In response to the court’s decision, the Evers administration drafted maps for the state Assembly, Senate and congressional districts that adhered to the “least changes” principle while mitigating some of the partisan gerrymander of the 2011 maps and proposed Republican maps.
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“The maps I’m submitting today are an improvement from the gerrymandered maps we have and the Republican maps I vetoed last month,” Evers said in a press release. “But I want to be clear—the people of Wisconsin overwhelmingly support nonpartisan redistricting in this state, and I will continue to fight for a nonpartisan redistricting process as long as I’m governor.”
According to analysis by Jeanne Clelland, a mathematics professor at University of Colorado in Boulder, Evers’ new maps would still give Republicans 55 of 99 Assembly seats, 20 of 33 Senate seats, and five of eight US House seats; the GOP-drawn maps could provide veto-proof supermajorities.
The governor’s maps would only move 14.17% of the core population in districts as opposed to 15.85% in the Republican maps. They would also split fewer counties and municipalities than the Republican maps.
Despite the advantage Republicans would still enjoy, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) in a statement claimed Evers’ new maps are “rigged” and criticized him for unveiling the maps without first soliciting public input.
Republicans in 2011 drew maps in secret and made their own party members sign nondisclosure agreements before they could see the proposed boundaries. And although Republicans allowed the public to submit their own maps before they unveiled their new maps this year, the proposals were released mere days after the public input period closed.
Evers’ maps would also create more minority-majority districts, a metric that prompted some legislative Democrats to voice opposition to and even vote against the PMC maps. Evers’ maps have 10 non-majority-white Assembly districts, including seven majority-Black Assembly districts, whereas the Republican maps have nine non-majority-white Assembly districts and only five majority-Black districts. Both Evers’ and the Republican maps have two majority-LatinoAssembly districts.