A dozen Democrats sued election officials Wednesday over legislative maps Republicans drew in 2011 that helped give them a firm grip on state government. The lawsuit comes two years after a panel of three federal judges in separate litigation redrew two Assembly districts and blasted GOP lawmakers for drawing the maps in secret. That panel found the two districts on Milwaukee’s south side violated the voting rights of Latinos, but it upheld all the other legislative maps, allowing Republicans to keep their advantage in elections. The new lawsuit seeks to change that by arguing the maps are so partisan as to be unconstitutional. “This case we hope will be the election law equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education,” said Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle, referring to the landmark school desegregation case. “We will establish a national standard that can be used reliably into the future.”
Those bringing the lawsuit say they will file litigation in other states, including against maps that benefit Democrats. They didn’t give a time frame for doing so.
Democratic voters from around the state brought the case in federal court in Madison against members of the state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections but was not involved in drawing the maps. It has the backing of a group called the Wisconsin Fair Elections Project that was formed to promote nonpartisan redistricting.
The accountability board and the Department of Justice had no comment on the merits of the lawsuit.