MADISON, Wis. (AP) — If Wisconsin state Rep. Jimmy Anderson wants to visit residents in some of the northern neighborhoods he represents, he first must leave his own district — twice.
Anderson’s Fitchburg house in Madison suburb must leave his Assembly District 47th, go through the 77th District and re-enter it, before heading north to the 48th District.
Unusual? Yes. Inconvenient? Yes.
Although the Wisconsin Constitution mandates legislative districts “to consist of contiguous territory,” Many contain land sections that aren’t actually connected. This map is similar to Swiss Some districts feature small neighborhoods with different representative holes.
Wisconsin’s nationally peculiar practice of detached districts is cited as one of several alleged violations in a recent lawsuit seeking to strike down current Assembly and Senate districts Replace them by the time of the 2020 elections.
Similar cases have been reported in several states, including North Carolina The following are some of the ways to get in touch with us: Utah, the Wisconsin lawsuit also alleges partisan gerrymandering is illegal under the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and free speech.
Democrats still hope to win the election despite mixed national results. Wisconsin Supreme Court’s new liberal majority Will deliver a loud rejection of the gerrymandering which has granted Republicans an lopsided majority in parliament.
The challenge of non-contiguous district could give judges an opportunity to resolve the case, without having to address whether or not partisan gerrymandering was illegal.
“It could be that this gives the court a completely neutral basis for deciding the maps are no good,” Kenneth R. Mayer a political science professor at University of Wisconsin Madison, said.
Wisconsin’s Assembly districts rank among the most tilted nationally, with Republicans routinely winning far more seats than would be expected based on their average share of the vote, according to an Associated Press analysis. Democrats in other states like Nevada have gained disproportionately from redistricting.
The majority of states follow at least four established principles when reshaping legislative districts following each census. Districts should be compact and contiguous, with a population that is nearly equal. They also need to follow the borders of counties and cities. “Contiguous” In general, it is meant that all areas of a particular district are interconnected. However, there are some exceptions logically for islands.
Some states use narrow roads and rivers as a way to connect different parts of the district. Few have taken contiguous to the extreme as Wisconsin, which uses it as a synonym for “nearby.”
Wisconsin’s detached districts are ”profoundly weird,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Marymount University Law School in Los Angeles who created the All About Redistricting website.
Anderson’s legislative district, for example, includes more than a dozen remote territories scattered around the Madison area that are disconnected from the district’s main portion in Fitchburg, McFarland and Monona. Anderson is in a wheelchair and must constantly load it into and out of a van.
Anderson added that the situation is also confusing to his distant constituents, whose neighboring communities are being represented by another person.
“It just doesn’t serve the people that live in those little bubbles to not have the same kind of community cohesion and interests being represented,” He said.
Gabrielle Young lives with her 46-year-old mother in one of the “land islands” Anderson is a representative. Young claimed that she did not know Anderson would have to go through another district in order to run for office in her area until the lawyers who filed the lawsuit contacted her. Young agreed to act as plaintiff in the suit alleging the disconnected district violates the state constitution.
“I could have gone the rest of my life living here not realizing it was happening, but that doesn’t make it OK,” “She said” “It’s ridiculous.”
In the suit, it is cited that the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1892 stated that the districts were to be redrawn. “cannot be made up of two or more pieces of detached territory.” According to the lawsuit, the practice has spread over the years, and 55 out of 99 Assembly districts, as well as 21 of 33 Senate districts, are now made up of separated portions.
“Clearly, at some point, things sort of went awry,” Mark Gaber said, Senior Director of Redistricting for Campaign Legal Center. This Washington-based organization helped file the lawsuit.
“It seems pretty clear to me that you have to enforce the words as they are written,” Gaber is added.
It has not always happened that way.
A federal panel of judges in 1992 that was examining a redistricting case from Wisconsin endorsed the idea of detached legislative districts. Wisconsin’s Democratic-led Legislature and Republican governor had failed to agree on new districts following the 1990 census. Court was left with the choice of various plans presented by both parties. Republican districts proposed literal contiguousness, but judges chose a Democratic plan that didn’t.
Judges from the federal court said districts that contain disconnected “islands” Land were comparable to the towns which had legally been allowed to annexe noncontiguous area.
“Since the distance between town and island is slight, we do not think the failure of the legislative plan to achieve literal contiguity a serious demerit,” The judges’ comments were written in 1992.
It is now 30 years since the reverse. Republicans now in control of the Legislature proposed Assembly maps and Senate maps that had disconnected districts. Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted The legal challenge was brought by Democrats, who control the governor’s office. Democrats, who control the governor’s office, are backing the legal challenge.
“The districts are constitutional because they are legally contiguous,” In a recent statement, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos made a reference to previous court decisions. He refused to comment further.
Micah Altman a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher specializing on redistricting said, “Contiguity requirements are a national tradition, but they’ve never been clearly defined.”
He added that it is important to balance criteria like contiguousness and compactness with other factors, including the equal distribution of populations and the avoidance of splitting counties and municipalities into different districts.
“Turning one knob on the system makes you have to turn down the other knob at least a bit,” Altman,
In the case of Anderson’s district, the disconnected sections likely have not made much difference in the partisan composition of his voters. Anderson and the vast majority of Madison area voters are Democrats.
Experts in redistricting say it is still possible for politicians to manipulate maps to their advantage by drawing sections that are far away from the center of the district.
“When you allow mapmakers to draw districts that are noncontiguous, you give them even more flexibility to perpetrate abuse,” Levitt said.
Lieb is reporting from Jefferson City, Missouri.