Wednesday, August 2, 2023

First order of business for new Wis Supreme Court - new maps. And I'm here to help!

Wanted to follow up from the big court filing of this week. Well, the OTHER big court filing of the week.

The long-promised action is backed by Democrats and was filed by a coalition of law firms and voting rights advocacy groups. It comes the day after the Wisconsin Supreme Court flipped from a conservative to liberal majority, with the start of the term of a justice who said that the Republican maps were “rigged” and should be reviewed. “Despite the fact that our legislative branch is meant to be the most directly representative of the people, the gerrymandered maps have divided our communities, preventing fair representation,” said Jeff Mandell, board president of Law Forward, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit....

The latest challenge asks the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it work through lower courts, arguing that the state legislative maps are an unconstitutional gerrymander. Notably, the lawsuit does not challenge the congressional maps....

The petition filed with the Supreme Court argues that the current maps unconstitutionally retaliate against some voters based on their viewpoint and free speech; create non-contiguous districts that include scattered fragments of detached territory; treat some voters worse than others based on their political views and where they live; and violate the promise of a free government.
Had to be done, and it absolutely needs to go directly to the new Supreme Court. Time is short, and these maps must be fixed before Spring 2024, when candidates send out nominating petitions and file for the August primaries.

The fact that this suit came so fast isn't surprising, but this part of the suit was something I hadn't thought of.
The lawsuit asks that all 132 state lawmakers be up for election that year in newly drawn districts. In Senate districts that are midway through a four-year term in 2024, there would be a special election with the winner serving two years. Then the regular four-year cycle would resume again in 2026.
It makes sense, right? If the maps were illegitimate in 2022, then everyone elected to the Senate is illegitimate, and they can't be allowed to stay around any longer than necessary. EARN THAT SEAT.

Of course, if the maps are found to be illegal, the question then becomes "How do you fix it?" Well, I have Assembly and Senate maps RIGHT HERE, if Law Forward or anyone wants to submit them. It's basically what I did before, with a few improvements and tweaks since then.

All I did was try to keep communities together (the current maps split up a lot of cities for no reason beyond gerrymandering), set lines in logical, relatively compact ways, and tried to make sure a sufficient amount of districts in Milwaukee (along with one in Racine) were majority-minority.

The result was this Assembly map.

Compare that to the current GOP gerrymander.

I think a good baseline to use for 2024 is Tony Evers' 3.5% win in 2022, especially given now-Justice Janet's 10 point win in April, and the general mess that is the Wisconsin GOP and MAGA Trash these days. And if you use 2022's Governor election outcomes, GOP candidate Tim Michels would have still won a majority of districts, but only 55 of 99, which is a 9-seat difference from the 64-35 GOP majority that exists today. And over 20 races end up being close, where the total vote margin is within 10 points.

The Senate map tells a similar story. These districts are more noticeably different, because of how 3 Assembly seats get folded into one Senate seat. This time I'll give you the GOP gerrymander first.

And now check out my map, which changes where some Assembly districts get folded into, particularly around Green Bay and in breaking up the gerrymander around Racine and Kenosha, where 2 safe seats split between urban and rural become 2 competitive seats that largely stay within county lines.

Under this map, Evers would only have won 14 of 33 districts while winning the state by 3.5%. But that's a whole lot more representative than the 2-1 supermajority that GOPs have in the Senate today. And if all 33 Senate districts are up for election in 2024, it is possible for the upper chamber to flip if Democrats win by 6-7%.

And that's all we ask for with these maps. Just make it so that there are enough competitive districts that if a party wins convincingly statewide, they are able to have control of the Legislature, and that more candidates have to listen to everyday Wisconsinites instead of the fraction of a fraction of a fraction that votes in party primaries.

So if Law Forward or some other organization wants to help the new Supreme Court majority get these maps into place, they can save valuable time by not having to draw it themselves. And I (and so many others that have already drawn maps over the last 3 years) are glad to be part of that help!

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