Why redistribution could be the biggest political issue in Wisconsin | WUWM 89.7 FM

According to the United States Constitution, a census is taken every ten years to enumerate every person living in the United States. This data is used for many federal programs, but most importantly, it guides how political boundaries are drawn.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has extended the deadline for data delivery from April to September.

Hong Min Park, associate professor of political science at UW-Milwaukee, says this will likely delay Wisconsin’s redistribution process and the state will have to move the March 2022 deadline to finish drawing new political maps.

“[Redistricting] is very important because it could ultimately change the makeup of party control – not only in the US Congress, but also in the state legislature, ”he said.

Wisconsin has seen the effects of what can happen when a political party uses the power given to the state legislature to draw better maps for its candidates, known as gerrymandering.

“If we look at the US Congressional Districts, even though we’re almost 50/50 in terms of potential vote share (between Democrats and Republicans), we’re currently five to three, Republican advantage here in Wisconsin. It’s all because of partisan gerrymandering, ”he said.

To prevent partisan gerrymandering, a number of states have removed the redistribution power from politicians and non-partisan councils tasked with proposing the fairest and most competitive districts possible, Park says.

“Personally, I think fair riding can only be done through a non-partisan commission process, not through the state legislature,” he says.

Park says keeping power with lawmakers often means the ruling party will use the opportunity to make their elections less competitive and create less incentive to listen to voters in their constituency who may have differing views on the legislation.

So while many people don’t see redistribution as their most important political issue, he says, letting gerrymandering get worse may mean politicians won’t have to listen to any issues.

“If it’s not that competitive in an electoral process, then our representatives don’t have an incentive to listen to voters and their preferences,” Park explains. “This is why the redistribution is so important. “

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