Wisconsin Voters Want New Districts

MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – Voters across Wisconsin say the state’s 33 Senate districts and 99 Assembly districts “have been rendered unconstitutional by the 2010 census.” It’s one of a slew of lawsuits filed in states across the country, challenging the districts that will be used in 2012 elections.

     Fifteen voters sued the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in Federal Court.
     Wisconsin’s population grew by 323,331 between the 2000 and 2010 censuses (from 5,363,675 to 5,686,986.)
     The ideal population for state Senate districts now is 172,333, and for Assembly districts is 57,444.
     But growth and population shifts have left the state’s Senate district ranging from “a low of 152,758 (11.4 percent low) to a high of 197,821 (14.8 percent too high), for a maximum discrepancy of 26.2 percent, or 45,063 people, between ideally equal Senate districts.
     In the Assembly, the range is from -15.8 percent to +35.2 percent, a total discrepancy of more than 50 percent from the ideal.
     The strength of each vote in a packed district therefore is diluted, and in skimpy districts is exaggerated. This violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the state and federal constitutions, according to the complaint.
     The class wants the Government Accountability Board enjoined from using the old districts for the September 2012 primary elections and November 2012 general elections. They also seek “a judicial plan of apportionment to make the state’s Senate districts and Assembly districts substantially equal in population.”
     That’s the way the present districts were drawn, by court order in 2002.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Godfrey & Kahn of Madison.

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