The Wisconsin GOP introduced a new bill to the legislature to alter the allocation of the state’s electoral votes in the 2024 presidential election, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.
The 2020 presidential election was marred with mistrust and skepticism in the current process, as many states including Wisconsin performed recounts and former president Donald Trump brought forth multiple court cases in efforts to undermine the verity of the election’s results.
Wisconsin particularly became a crucial battleground state with its longstanding reputation as a politically diverse purple state. Under the current winner-take-all system, President Joe Biden received all 10 of the state’s electoral votes, continuing him on the path to the necessary 270.
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Rep. Gary Tauchen (R.) introduced a new bill that would apportion electoral votes based on congressional district — the winner of the popular vote in each district would win one electoral vote per district. Whichever slate of candidates wins the majority of the state’s eight congressional districts would then win the remaining two electoral votes.
According to the Wisconsin Examiner, Trump would have won the majority of Wisconsin’s votes with six electoral votes under a congressional system.
According to the Wisconsin Examiner, the proposed bill was also introduced in 2007 but did not make it past committee. Rep. Gary Hebl (D) said he was concerned over the gerrymandered legislative districts having a greater impact on national politics.
“If an independent entity were responsible for the districting, then I’m ok with that [the bill],” Hebl said. “There are 250 thousand more democratic votes but they hold 38 out of the 99 seats. We should hold at least half.”
While there is nothing unconstitutional about the bill, one of the greatest concerns, according to UW professor Barry Burden in an interview with the Wisconsin Examiner, is the potential to heighten partisan biases in legislative redistricting.
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In 2017, Wisconsin democrats took the legislative districts redrawn after the 2010 census to court for gerrymandering in favor of republicans in the case of Gill v. Whitford (2018).
Under Tauchen’s new bill, gerrymandering could impact the results of congressional and presidential elections.
After the 2020 census, Hebl said he hopes to see new legislative districts drawn in a more proportionately representative fashion. Hebl said with the passage of this new GOP bill, partisan congressional redistricting would be highly impactful, not only for senate and house races but also in presidential elections.
Patrick Rosenstiel, the senior consultant at the National Popular Vote, discussed the possible implications of Tauchen’s proposed bill. Rosenstiel said the election would no longer come down to a few key battleground states such as Wisconsin. Instead, the focus would turn to crucial battleground districts, further winnowing an already narrow campaign trail.
“In the last election 35 states were almost completely ignored,” Rosenstiel said.
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Such a phenomenon would be entirely antithetical to the goal of the Interstate Popular Vote Compact. This compact is a pledge taken by states to award all electoral votes to whichever slate of candidates receives the most individual votes nationally.
Rosenstiel said there are currently 16 voting jurisdictions participating in the compact, amounting to 196 electoral college votes. The compact needs 88 more electoral college votes to reach the winning number of 270 which would effectively turn the presidential election into a popular vote.
“There was a time when the electoral college made a lot of sense, back when they wrote the Constitution, but not today,” Hebl said.
Efforts to change how the state allocates its electoral college votes were made on both sides of the aisle. In 2019, Hebl said he co-sponsored a bill to bring the popular vote to Wisconsin, though the bill did not receive a hearing.
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Rosenstiel said he is confident the popular vote will be reintroduced in Wisconsin again. According to the Wisconsin Examiner, election law reform will be high on the political agenda for an Assembly Republican during the current congressional session.
According to the Wisconsin Examiner, the Interstate Popular Vote Compact is gaining a lot of traction. This newfound momentum for the compact, along with Tauchen’s bill represents a larger issue — the current system for presidential elections is not meeting the needs of the American public.
The integrity of the past election was repeatedly questioned and results delayed due to multiple recounts. The lack of satisfaction with the 2020 presidential election was one of the factors leading to the riots in Washington D.C on Jan. 6.
“People want a fair system. The current system is crushing under its own weight,” Rosenstiel said. “Fulfilling the promise of American democracy seems critical during this time.”