The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wisconsin’s proposed legislative redistricting maps Wednesday and said the state had created districts based on race without sufficient justification.
This delay in redistricting will affect both Wisconsin voters and candidates, University of Wisconsin Political Science Professor Barry Burden said.
“They [the Clerk’s Office] need to know what district voters live in because they need to know what their ballot should look like,” Burden said. “And candidates who want to run for office this fall will soon be able to take out papers and collect signatures. Right now, these candidates don’t know what district they live in.”
Federal law requires that States redraw their voting districts every decade — following the national census — to ensure that electoral districts remain equally populated, UW Law School Professor Robert Yablon said.
Because the districts drawn remain in place for a decade, this process — known as redistricting — can influence the partisan majority in the Legislature for years to come, Yablon said. Republicans drew the existing districts a decade ago with the goal of maintaining a Republican Legislature, Yablon added.
After the 2020 census, neither Republicans — who controlled the Wisconsin legislature — nor Democrat Gov. Evers could come to an agreement on how to draw the new legislature districts. They turned to the majority-Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court, which invited the Republicans and Evers to submit maps to the court for approval.
After receiving several submissions for potential maps, the Wisconsin Supreme Court chose Evers’ map in a 4-3 ruling.
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Evers’ map increased the number of majority-Black districts in Wisconsin from six to seven.
In a separate challenge, Wisconsin Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to discard the previous ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court approving Evers’ maps. The Supreme court rejected this challenge.
But to approve and enact Evers’ maps, the Wisconsin Supreme Court must analyze information proving that the map is VAR compliant, Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison, said.
“This isn’t about whether his [Evers] maps are compliant,” Hong said. “It’s about further evidence being needed.”
The court’s decision is untimely because the approved map will be used in Wisconsin’s primary election on August 9, 2022, Hong said. Ballots and voting machines are already being prepared for this election, according to Hong.
“This has created confusion and a lot of problems in a time where all eligible voters need to be able to exercise their right to vote,” Hong said.