Thursday, November 21, 2013

CC/WI Analysis Shows More Competitive Legislative Elections Before the 2011 Gerrymander

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Thursday November 21, 2013

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

1. CC/WI Analysis Shows More Competitive Legislative Elections Before the 2011 Gerrymander
2. Wisconsin Citizens Continue to Clamor for Redistricting Reform Hearings
3. Unfolding Investigation of Walker Campaign and Outside Groups During Recall Election Underscores Need for Electioneering Disclosure Law

1. One of the primary reasons redistricting reform is needed in Wisconsin is because of the secretive, hyper-partisan and expensive (to Wisconsin taxpayers) 2011 redistricting process that produced fewer competitive state legislative elections in which Wisconsin voters have a real choice in general elections and thereby now have to endure a far more unresponsive and arrogant Legislature.

CC/WI compared the number of competitive State Assembly and State Senate elections in 2010 -- before gerrymandering -- with the 2012 elections. (We define "competitive" as general elections decided by 10 percentage points or less -- so no election with a greater spread than 55 percent to 45 percent).

In 2010, there were 21 Assembly general elections that fell in the "competitive" category. Those occurred in Assembly Districts: 15, 20, 26, 37, 42, 43, 44, 45, 51, 57, 62, 68, 70, 72, 74, 75, 80, 85, 88, 93, and 94.

In 2012, the number of "competitive" Assembly general elections fell by about 30 percent from 2010 to just 15. Those Assembly districts were: 1, 26, 37, 49, 50, 51, 62, 67, 68, 70, 72, 75, 85, 88, and 93.

The fall off in the number of "competitive" State Senate general elections was even more dramatic. In 2010, there were six "competitive" general elections that occurred in State Senate Districts: 5, 21, 23, 25, 29, and 31. In 2012, after gerrymandering, the number of "competitive" State Senate general elections fell to just two. Those happened in State Senate Districts 18 and 30. Note in the map of State Senate districts in the 2012 elections (to the right) the contorted shape of many of the districts. This is classic, partisan gerrymandering

Opponents of redistricting reform continually and inaccurately complain that reforming this process didn't happen prior to the 2010 elections so why is there so much noise about doing it now? The answer is simple, obvious, and straightforward: There are many fewer competitive general elections in Wisconsin now as a result of the 2011 gerrymandering. That, and the fact that the process is now intolerably hyper-partisan, secretive and a massive rip-off of Wisconsin taxpayer money.

2. A recent article by Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism shows that numerous citizens have contacted Republican state legislative leaders and the chairs of committees with jurisdiction over redistricting reform legislation demanding public hearings. Many others have written to newspapers supporting hearings, and the number of citizens opposing either redistricting reform or public hearings is negligible. Instead of abating, the demand for action on this reform is rising. Common Cause in Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin have been relentless in calling public attention to the need for redistricting reform and for public hearings -- and we are not about to stop now. Neither are most of Wisconsin's daily newspapers, like the Wisconsin State Journal, which yesterday editorialized: Earth to GOP: Hold a hearing now.

3. The continuing, unfolding revelations in yet another secret "John Doe" investigation of possible illegal campaign activities by Governor Scott Walker's campaign and outside special interest groups supporting his re-election during the 2012 recall election is about many things. But central to it is the vast and increasing amount of secret and undisclosed money that flowed in that election and which continues to pollute and undermine the integrity of Wisconsin's statewide and legislative elections.

The Governor and Legislature could act tomorrow (or even today) to disclose much of this secret money by calling up and acting on bipartisan electioneering disclosure legislation, Senate Bill 166, which was introduced last April by State Senators Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and State Representative Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), with consultation and the strong support of CC/WI. Enactment into law of this critical measure would go a long way toward eliminating much of the mystery, and therefore the possibilities for illegal wrongdoing, that the latest criminal investigation is digging up. Just as important, Wisconsin citizens deserve to have the same right that citizens in many other states (including Illinois) currently have in knowing who is trying to influence their vote at election time. Secret money in politics very often leads to wrongdoing and scandal. Senate Bill 166 would help reduce much of this secretiveness.

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703

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