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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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home : opinions : opinions
May 31, 2020

4/3/2020 7:30:00 AM
Fair elections/fair maps

To the Editor:

If you know what it is like to not be heard, to be left out or to have something you are passionate about disregarded, then perhaps you can understand what it feels like to not have your vote matter. We have been taught that a Democracy guarantees that we have a means of expressing our beliefs and thoughts through our votes. When we vote in statewide, county, city or town elections, the voting districts have geographical permanent boundaries. We may not agree with all of the other voters on certain issues, but the composition of those areas is random and the opportunities to vote for someone of one's political party or an issue of concern is usually possible.

In Wisconsin, the boundaries of the districts in which we vote for our U.S. representative and state legislators are set every 10 years by the politicians in control of the state legislature. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously required that all of these districts have similar populations and that the boundaries be as compact as possible. But recently the boundaries have been decided on the basis of where the majority party's voters are located. This practice is unfair to all voters. When a district is packed with a single party, the minority party may not bother to nominate a candidate. How do the members of the minority in those districts feel, even if their own party has the state majority? And in the districts where one party's voting power is deliberately diluted, the minority party has little chance of electing its candidates. And ten years is a long time to be disenfranchised.

On April 7, many voters in Vilas and Oneida counties will have an opportunity to vote on a referendum sponsored by the non-partisan Fair Elections Project. It proposes that the state and U.S. congressional districts be created by a nonpartisan committee. Iowa has had a successful nonpartisan procedure since 1981 and recently other states have chosen nonpartisan redistricting also. In Wisconsin, 42 of 72 counties have approved a resolution calling for nonpartisan redistricting and a poll by the Marquette Law School released in early 2019 showed that 72% of Wisconsin voters want a nonpartisan procedure.

Please vote "yes" on the referendum for nonpartisan redistricting in order to improve your future for fairer elections.

Deborah Wilson

Arbor Vitae

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