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Wisconsin Legislature to take up redistricting in November
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LEGISLATURE | REDISTRICTING

Wisconsin Legislature to take up redistricting in November

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The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature plans to vote on a redistricting plan when it convenes in November, the Legislature’s attorney told the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Census Bureau released its data for 2020, and the findings show a diversifying nation with a migration pattern that will greatly affect its politics going forward. Poppy MacDonald, the president of non-profit data organization USAFacts, joined Cheddar to break down what the shifts mean in terms of congressional seats for states and the first time decline in the white population since 1790. "What we're seeing is we're becoming more diverse as a country, and we're also seeing a migration of population, more people going to the South and more people going to the West in terms of where they're moving," MacDonald said.

Although the Legislature plans to act by Nov. 11, additional times for considering redistricting could be added later this fall or winter, attorney Kevin St. John wrote in the letter filed Wednesday with the state’s highest court. But St. John said it was “likely” that the Legislature would approve a map this fall.

“The Legislature is committed to acting on redistricting legislation with all deliberate speed,” St. John wrote.

Republicans appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to throw out federal redistricting case

Republican leaders have not said exactly when they planned to vote on new maps for the state’s 132 legislative districts and eight congressional districts. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, did not respond to messages Thursday seeking comment on the timeline for redistricting.

State legislatures are required to redraw political lines every decade based on the latest population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Mapmakers can create an advantage for their political party in future elections by packing opponents’ voters into a few districts or spreading them thin among multiple districts — a process known as gerrymandering.

A website GOP leaders established for the public to submit maps will take proposals till Oct. 15.

That means the Legislature will likely make its proposed maps public sometime after Oct. 15 and before the end of the November floor period, which runs Nov. 2 through Nov. 11. A commission Gov. Tony Evers created released its proposed maps for public comment last week.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which runs elections, has said in court filings that new maps must be in place by March 1 in order for candidates to begin circulating nomination papers by April 15, a date set in law.

The Legislature asked the Supreme Court to set a date for when maps must be complete, which St. John said would send a message to the federal court that Wisconsin’s branches of government will complete redistricting on time.

Evers, a Democrat, would have to sign the maps into law in order for them to take effect. He has indicated that is unlikely to happen.

Republicans want the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to draw the maps if Evers and the Legislature can’t agree on new ones. Democrats have filed a lawsuit in federal court, noting that is where redistricting disputes have historically been settled.

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