Lengthy, expensive legal fights protect politicians, not taxpayers
Milwaukee Challenging the lack of real choices in many elections, Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett today laid out a sweeping vision to reform the way legislative and Congressional districts are drawn in Wisconsin.
“When an incumbent is insulated from true election competition, then so too are the ideas and solutions that might come from a credible opponent,” said Barrett.
“Redistricting shouldn’t be about incumbent protection and hefty lawyer fees, but instead ensuring the people have real choices in who represents them and true debates on the issues before us. By establishing some basic principles we can take the partisanship out of redistricting, and reduce its destructiveness in the state capitol.”
As recently as 1998 there were more competitive Congressional districts then there are today. Competitive legislative districts have declined as well.
In addition, the protracted and expensive legal battles designed to use the redistricting process to solidify partisan control represents a poor use of taxpayer resources.
The legal battles over redistricting cost Wisconsin taxpayers approximately $2.5 million when new lines were drawn after the 2000 Census.
Tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent on the looming battles sure to come following the 2010 Census.
Tom Barrett wants to repair this broken process and ensure competitive elections that provide real choices and trigger real and honest debates on the issues facing Wisconsin.
As governor, he will fight for a redistricting plan that includes the following core principles:
The process must be transparent and accessible to the public, and must provide the data and tools to allow direct public input.
Legislative districts in both the Assembly and Senate, as well as Congressional districts, are drawn to create as many truly competitive districts as possible. Using the past five presidential and gubernatorial elections, and trying to create 50/50 splits of the two major parties can do this.
Redistricting is done in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, so that members of demographic groups protected by federal law have appropriate representation.
The plans will be submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) whose membership is comprised of retired and reserved state judges who are non-partisan.
GAB’s role will be to verify and validate that these plans fit the above criteria and only give their recommendation that the legislative process adopt one.
If the legislature and/or governor fail to enact a plan following these principles, the Government Accountability Board should be given authority to pass a re-districting plan.
Also today, Barrett submitted to the GAB nearly 16,500 signatures of voters from all 72 counties to put his name on the ballot for the November 2 gubernatorial election.
“I’m proud so many Wisconsinites have shown their support for our campaign to create jobs, put state government on a diet, and stand with Wisconsin’s working and middle class families,” said Barrett.