NDRC Slams Wisconsin Republicans as They Hold One Hearing on Gerrymandered Maps

October 28, 2021

Madison, WI — Today, Republican legislators are convening their first and only public hearing on the congressional and legislative maps they introduced last week. These maps rightfully earned an “F” rating from the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project, and they would bake in the 2011 Republican gerrymanders, which were known as some of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders in the country.  

“To hold only one public hearing on gerrymandered maps that were drawn behind closed doors is an insult to Wisconsinites, who have demonstrated through the People’s Maps Commission’s process that they want to have a say. It is even more insulting that this single hearing was scheduled at a time when Wisconsinites have to go to work and drop off their kids at school. These facts alone tell us that the Republican legislators who support these maps are terrified to hear what Wisconsinites think about their maps,” said Elizabeth Treviño, the NDRC’s Wisconsin State Director. 

“The Republican-proposed maps bake in Scott Walker’s 2011 gerrymanders, which were already notorious for being some of the most egregiously rigged maps in the country. It is incredible to see that Republicans found a way to produce maps that are even more gerrymandered than they were before. This flies in the face of Wisconsinites who overwhelmingly want to end partisan gerrymandering,” Treviño continued. 


Taken together, there are common themes among the Republican-drafted maps in Wisconsin and the process that led up to them. Below are some of the alarming themes we have seen: 

  1. Bakes in the 2011 Republican Gerrymander: Following the 2011 Republican gerrymander, Wisconsin had some of the most gerrymandered congressional and legislative districts in the country. The maps proposed by the Republican-led legislature manage to be even more gerrymandered than they were 10 years ago. Wisconsin is a 50-50 state, and a fair map should reflect its competitive nature. Over the past decade, Democrats have seen increasing success in statewide elections. For example, in 2018, Wisconsinites elected Tammy Baldwin to represent them in the United States Senate, Josh Kaul to be their Attorney General, and Tony Evers to be their Governor. In 2020, Wisconsin voted in favor of President Joe Biden. Yet the Republican legislature drew a congressional map that gives Republicans five safe seats and Democrats only two safe seats out of a total of eight. President Biden carries only 25 percent of the congressional seats the Republican legislature has drawn, despite his statewide win. 

    Furthermore, the legislature’s proposed maps would further entrench the manipulated Republican majority in the state legislature. The maps clearly aim to protect Republican incumbents from any sort of competition, making it clear the Republican politicians who drew these maps care more about insulating themselves from the reality of the political dynamics in Wisconsin than delivering Wisconsinites the representation they want and deserve. 
  2. Lacks Transparency and Public Input: While Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) has claimed that Wisconsinites had “an unprecedented level of input and influence over the map-drawing efforts,” the evidence shows that this statement is false. Thus far, throughout the duration of the redistricting process, the Republican legislators have held only one public hearing, which is taking place today after they released their gerrymandered maps. It’s clear this was scheduled to prevent Wisconsinites from participating in the process, by scheduling one hearing in-person without a virtual option at 9 AM on a workday. This stands in stark contrast to the People’s Maps Commission, which held eight hearings prior to drawing maps, and has continued to hold public hearings with a virtual option after they have released their maps.

    The Republican-led “Draw Your District” public mapping portal was only open for six weeks. Wisconsinites found it to be clunky and difficult to navigate. In September, Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) went as far as sending a letter that essentially intimidated Wisconsinites from invoking the Voting Rights Act in their map submissions to the Republican-led mapping portal. In addition to this, Republicans did not heavily promote the program to the public. Once the portal closed on a Friday night, Republicans waited mere hours into the next workday to propose their gerrymandered maps, which calls into question whether and how they processed the hundreds of public input maps that were submitted in the days prior. 
  3. Dilutes the Voices of Diverse, Populous Urban Areas and Communities of Color: The 2020 Census data indicates that most of the population growth in Wisconsin over the past decade occurred in Dane County, which includes Madison. However, the Republicans’ proposed gerrymandered maps do not increase the number of state legislative seats representing Dane County in accordance with the population growth reflected in the Census data. Furthermore, the gerrymandered maps proposed by Republican legislators crack diverse, urban areas that favor Democrats, diluting the voices of those voters. For example, the proposed state assembly map splits the city of Madison so that its voters are merged into five different rural Republican-leaning counties. Additionally, the proposed gerrymandered maps further pack the Black community in Milwaukee, preventing them from having the ability to elect a candidate of their choice.