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October 22, 2020

9/25/2020 1:48:00 PM
Vote YES for Fair Elections

Dear Editor:
The November 3rd election is closer than you think. Ballots are being sent out around September 17 to people who have already requested mail-in ballots. Iowa County voters will have an opportunity not only to vote for the candidates of their choice but also to vote for a fairer way of creating legislative district maps. Look for the referendum question: "Should the Wisconsin legislature create a non-partisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional redistricting plans and maps." In other words, do you favor putting an end to gerrymandering.
Redistricting is mandated by law to occur every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The last redistricting, done behind closed doors by the party in power, left Wisconsin as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country and split Iowa county into four different legislative districts. Gerrymandering is the practice of using partisan voter data to divide a state into election districts that give one political party (the party in power) a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible. This practice results in weird shaped, incumbent-protected districts that slice up counties and municipalities and insure that the party in power stays in control. In the 2018 Wisconsin Assembly race, every seat was up for reelection. Although 54% of the votes cast statewide were for Democratic candidates, Republicans, by virtue of gerrymandered districts, won 63 seats and Democrats only won 36. Both political parties, at one time or another, have been guilty of abusing their power in this way.
A fairer non-partisan way of redistricting, like the well-tested system employed in Iowa, would: prohibit the use of prior election results or any other political demographic data in making maps; respect political subdivisions and keep counties and municipalities intact to the fullest extent possible; and make districts contiguous and compact. The whole process would be conducted by a non-partisan citizen's board, be transparent, and elicit citizen input through public hearings.
Representatives Todd Novak (Republican) and Sondy Pope (Democrat) whose districts include Iowa county, are both cosigners of Assembly Bill 303 which calls for establishing an Iowa style non-partisan redistricting process. Similarly, Novak's Democratic challenger, Kriss Marion, and Pope's Republican challenger Chase Binnie, both support non-partisan redistricting. Fifty-three County Boards, in both "red" and "blue" leaning counties, have passed resolutions supporting fair maps. Fair maps referendums have passed with wide majorities in 17 counties. A 2019 Marquette Law School poll found 73% of Wisconsinites favoring banning gerrymandering, including 63% of Republicans.
Whether Republican or Democrat, here is a pro-democracy issue we can all stand behind. Vote YES to add your voice to the growing demand that the Wisconsin Legislature adopt a non-partisan redistricting plan. A healthy democracy requires no less.
Allen Pincus
Barneveld, WI

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