Wisconsin Governor Signs 'Fair Maps' Into Law

'We're a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 19, 2024 4:23 PM CST
Wisconsin Governor Signs New Legislative Maps Into Law
Carlen Beshen, the former organizing director with the Fair Maps Coalition, walks beneath a painted quotation by former Wisconsin Gov. and US Sen. Robert M. La Follette in the Governor's Conference Room at the Wisconsin State Capitol.   (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed new legislative district maps into law on Monday that he proposed and that the Republicans who control the Legislature passed to avoid having the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court draw the lines. Democrats hailed the signing as a major political victory in the swing state where the Legislature has been firmly under Republican control for more than a decade, even as Democrats have won 14 of the past 17 statewide elections, the AP reports. "When I promised I wanted fair maps—not maps that are better for one party or another, including my own—I damn well meant it," Evers said prior to signing the maps into law at the state Capitol.

"Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state—we're a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact," the governor said. He said the maps will be in place for the fall elections. Democrats are almost certain to gain seats in the state Assembly and state Senate under the new maps, which will be in place for the November election. Republicans have been operating since 2011 under maps they drew that were recognized as among the most gerrymandered in the country. Democrats tried unsuccessfully for more than a decade to overturn the Republican-drawn maps. But it wasn't until control of the state Supreme Court flipped in August after the election of liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz that Democrats found a winning formula.

They filed a lawsuit the day after Protasiewicz joined the court. Republicans argued that Protasiewicz shouldn't hear the lawsuit because she said during her campaign that the GOP-drawn maps were "rigged" and "unfair." But she did not recuse herself. Protasiewicz ended up providing the deciding fourth vote in a December ruling that declared the current maps to be unconstitutional because not all of the districts were contiguous, meaning some areas were geographically disconnected from the rest of the district. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Monday in a statement that Evers "signed the most Republican-leaning maps out of all the Democrat-gerrymandered maps being considered by the Wisconsin Supreme Court." (More Wisconsin stories.)

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