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Gov. Tony Evers seeks to join Democratic lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's political maps

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State Capitol

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday sought to intervene in a major redistricting case filed by Democrats asking a federal court to invalidate Wisconsin’s current political maps and draw new ones if the Legislature and governor don’t agree on a new set of maps on time.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed the motion to intervene on Monday on behalf of Evers.

Since the start of this year, state legislators around the country have introduced more than 2,000 bills to change local election laws, potentially impacting voter registration, election administration control, ballot harvesting and more.

Because Wisconsin governors are tasked with signing the state’s redistricting maps into law, Kaul said in his filing that Evers should have a say in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in August against the Wisconsin Elections Commission on behalf of six voters.

Marc Elias, a prominent Democratic elections attorney, is representing the voters in the lawsuit.

Specifically, the lawsuit contends that Wisconsin’s Assembly, Senate and congressional districts are in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s one person, one vote principle due to population shifts that have occurred in Wisconsin during the past 10 years, according to U.S. Census data released last month. Because of those shifts, districts no longer have the same number of people living in them, a requirement under the law.

The plaintiffs contend that because the Legislature is controlled by Republicans and the governor is a Democrat, chances are slim that they will agree on a new set of maps.

The Legislature has also sought to intervene in the case.

Evers and Kaul are asking the court to allow Evers to participate in the lawsuit by citing the governor’s veto power over the state’s proposed maps. Kaul also highlights Evers’ role in the redistricting process through a commission Evers created in 2020 to present an alternative set of political maps to the ones that the GOP-controlled Legislature will present.

In his filing, Kaul said the governor, if allowed to intervene, plans to present the maps the commission creates to the federal court for consideration. Evers claims the maps the commission draws will be nonpartisan.

“I never thought I would be spending a lot of my time as governor protecting our democracy, but it’s clear that with continued attacks on the right to vote, misinformation around the 2020 election, and efforts to gerrymander our maps, this work has never been more important,” Evers said in a statement. “I will continue to fight every day to protect the right of every eligible voter to cast their ballot, to ensure we have fair, free and secure elections, and to have fair maps in Wisconsin.”

Under the Wisconsin Constitution, the Legislature is tasked with using census data to draw Wisconsin’s new congressional and legislative voting district lines to be used for the next 10 years. They are then supposed to present them to Evers for his signature.

Republicans don’t hold veto-proof supermajorities in either the state Assembly or Senate, so Evers’ signature will be required for the maps to become law. If an agreement isn’t reached, state or federal courts will likely end up drawing the maps.


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