Prosecutors served subpoenas to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, along with other Republican leaders, in an effort that will allow them to examine computers for evidence of an unfair process of drawing election maps and furthering the legal feud over redistricting, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.
The state draws new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts every 10 years, and the current case developed from redistricting in 2011, done after the 2010 census, according to Mike McCabe, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. During this time, Republicans had control of both the legislative and executive branches and were able to approve district maps favoring their party, he added.
McCabe said GOP officials drew lines in a way that packed certain districts full of Democratic voters while diluting Democratic voting power elsewhere.
McCabe pointed to the 2012 elections as a result of this uneven dispersal of voting power, when more people voted for Democrats for Assembly and Senate, yet Republicans still won the most seats.
“In a democracy, voters are supposed to choose their representatives,” McCabe said. “We have a system where it’s really the other way around. This is a real indication that we need redistricting reform.”
Prosecutors want access to evidence proving Republicans deliberately drew lines to rig districts to their advantage. Plaintiffs have been trying to find the computers used to draw these maps to find out whether records have been withheld, the Journal Sentinel report found.
Vos said last week he did not know anything about the whereabouts of the computers and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also received a subpoena, according to the Associated Press.
One of the sources of controversy is also the secrecy under which those in charge of redistricting operated. According to Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, one charge includes the allegation of using taxpayer dollars to hire lawyers to assist them with the map drawing.
“Hopefully information will be discovered and the public will have the chance to know how the process unfolded,” Heck said. “This should be a matter of public record because this is a measure of public policy.”
Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, referred to Gov. Scott Walker, Vos and other officials as the “DNA of corruption.”
Ross said Republicans hold the majority in office currently because of the maps they drew — a majority that shows particularly in the voter ID law, the cuts being made to education and the plan to reallocate electoral college votes.
McCabe, Heck and Ross all agreed public, non-partisan parties should be in charge of redistricting.
Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, is currently trying to introduce a non-partisan process to redistricting.
“The fact that we are in a new session and we are still discussing the secret efforts of Republicans to build and protect their current majorities by gerrymandering legislative districts in their favor just shows how corrupt the current system is,” Hansen said in a statement Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.