In November, a federal three-judge panel ruled that Wisconsin’s political boundaries are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to give an unfair advantage to incumbent politicians. (Judges last Friday reaffirmed the ruling.) Reform legislation will be introduced in the current legislative session to take the job of drawing political boundaries out of the hands of partisan politicians, and give it to a nonpartisan panel. Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, says Wisconsin elections are no longer competitive, and points to the state’s congressional seats in Washington as an example.
“We have eight and all of them are safe for either the Republicans or the Democrats that occupy those eight seats, and in the Wisconsin Legislature, only 10 of 99 Assembly seats and only three of 33 state Senate seats are remotely competitive,” he states.
Heck says this results in a situation where the state’s elected representatives aren’t truly accountable to the people. He maintains the gerrymandered districts have essentially insured that the person who holds the seat won’t lose it in the next election. According to Heck, the legislation that will be introduced will be patterned after the system for drawing political boundaries set up in 1980 in Iowa.