This is the year we can #EndGerrymandering in Wisconsin. It is the year new voting maps are produced based on new census data, and a chance for the people to preserve our communities of interest.

Our current voting maps are badly gerrymandered, and for the past decade, Assembly and Senate races in Wisconsin have been rigged. The voting maps are so bad a federal district court demanded they be redrawn, but the US Supreme Court said they lacked the power to do so.

The district court said that in 2011 the Legislature “intended and accomplished an entrenchment of the Republican Party likely to endure for the entire decennial period.” One of the examples of what happened in 2011 is the way our voting maps carved up municipalities and counties. They tore our communities of interest apart.

Before 2011, the entire Village and the Township were in the 80th Assembly District. After the 2011 gerrymander, the five wards in the eastern part of the Village were cracked off into the 43rd Assembly District. Before 2011, AD43 was all within Rock County; now it extends into Dane, Walworth and Jefferson Counties.

The rest of the Village remained in the AD80, as did the Township. AD 80 once included all of Green County. Now that district includes pieces of Dane, Green and Iowa Counties. This happened to villages, towns, counties and school districts all over the state. When communities were split, their political voices were diluted.

In 2021, the Legislature will create new maps. The Governor has said he will veto them if they are unfair. He also formed a People’s Maps Commission (PMC) to create nonpartisan fair maps for the Legislature to consider.

The PMC wants to keep communities together. It needs our help.

It is asking the public to “map their communities of interest.” Rather than dividing and conquering communities, it will try to keep communities together, to make sure elected officials are accountable to their constituents.

The Oregon Area Progressives is a group of concerned residents helping people create “Community of Interest Maps” to submit to the commission. This is your chance to speak out about what communities should be kept together and why.

We are not interested in personal politics. We want to describe our community of interest – what’s on the ground and important to us … what we want kept together when the new Assembly maps are drawn so that our community’s concerns can’t be ignored.

Sign up on our Facebook page or visit bit.ly/OAP_Maps to participate at 6 p.m. Friday, June 7 during our regular OAP Community Open Mic.

Carlene Bechen

Oregon Area Progressives