Compiled by MCJ Staff
The Milwaukee NAACP has asked the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to delay finalizing the county’s new district map so citizens have a chance to get involved in the important process of redistricting.
In a letter sent to every county board supervisor, the local NAACP branch expressed serious concerns about the current redistricting proposal, as it manages to simultaneously dilute the African American vote and harden Milwaukee’s segregation.
The organization also expressed dismay with a decision by the Milwaukee County Redistricting Committee to conduct the redistricting process “in such a rushed and opaque manner” less than one month after the county received the 2010 U.S. Census data pertaining to the county.
County residents would have less than six days to review the proposed map before the committee and the county board vote on it. The deadline for redistricting is late May. The board reportedly may take up the proposal at its next meeting this week Thursday.
“If this is the outcome, it will be without dispute that the actions of the county board will have diametrically opposed the public interest,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to urge the board to take every step necessary to encourage substantive citizens an opportunity to review the proposal and generate their own proposals.
This includes taking advantage of the 60-day period afforded by the state to develop a redistricting map that abides by the Voting Rights Act, retains minority representation that is proportional to county population and bolsters the diversity contained in the district maps.
“There is absolutely no justifiable reason for rushing through this very important process.”
The NAACP also expressed concerns about the proposal itself, saying it contains one less majority African American district than the current map and lacks diversity.
“Out of the 18 proposed district,” the letter states, “11 districts feature a racial majority of over 70% while only one district features a racial majority that is less than 55%. Amazingly, fully one-third (six) of the proposed districts feature a racial majority of over 80%. These are all White majorities.”
The civil rights organization noted more diversified districts would give different constituencies more of an opportunity to work together to further the cause of their district and county.
“Given our county’s significant issues in the areas of poverty, segregation and other qualities of life, as well as Milwaukee County’s long-term fiscal conundrum, it is critically important that you take great care when doing something as important as redistricting.”