When it comes to redistricting, we have a simple request. We’d like a hearing.
Today, we’re using Post-Crescent Media’s editorial voice as part of a statewide effort to urge our lawmakers to take the first steps on redistricting reform. We’re asking them to schedule hearings on Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163 when they return to Madison this fall.
It’s time to move in the right direction.
The bills detail a new method for determining our state’s legislative boundaries every 10 years. The flawed system we have now — where the party in power gets to draw the lines — has led to Madison’s extreme partisanship. It’s not fair to voters that the party that happens to be in the majority can tighten its grip on the electorate.
The redistricting method outlined in these bills is far superior and would lead to better representation at the state and federal levels. Proponents of AB 185 and SB 163 want to hand over the map and pencil to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau to make sure the districts better reflect the population’s socioeconomic makeup.
The bureau would have to follow guidelines, and lawmakers would still have final approval, though they’d have limited options for tinkering with the maps.
Hearings this fall would get the issue out in front of the public. We know we’re asking a lot of Republicans since they’re the majority party in both the Assembly and Senate, but we’d like to remind all our lawmakers that they work for the voters, not their party leaders.
And this isn’t just a Republican issue. Over the years, we’ve been just as critical of Democrats who have failed to enact nonpartisan redistricting. Both sides must come together to make this change.
Nonpartisan redistricting will create better election choices for all voters. When districts are filled with voters who lean too heavily to one side, primaries become the only meaningful contents. That’s a problem because primaries tend to bring out candidates’ extreme views so they can distinguish themselves.
Qualified and talented candidates don’t get a fair shake because the opposing party has rigged the game against them.
The bills are based on Iowa’s much-lauded and time-tested redistricting process. Lawmakers there made the tough decision to take politics out of equation, and they’ve become the poster child for reform.
All we want is for the public to have a chance to speak out on the issue in Madison. We have to start somewhere.
As we join with other news outlets on this issue today, let us be clear: If the bills don’t get hearings this fall, we’re not going away. Redistricting will not be swept under the rug.