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Report: Wisconsin Legislature maps have the worst partisan-bias of any court-drawn map in the nation

Gerrymandering protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017.
Gerrymandering protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent leak of its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade suggests the court has left the decision over abortion rights and women’s autonomy to state governments. But in Wisconsin, that Legislature is unlikely to reflect the state’s voting base, thanks in part to another U.S. Supreme Court decision over Wisconsin's new state legislative maps.

The new maps, drawn by the Wisconsin State Legislature, are considered the most partisan-biased, court-adopted maps in the nation. That’s according to a new analysis from the University of Wisconsin Law School. The maps heavily advantage Republican politicians, all but guaranteeing Republican-rule in the state Legislature, regardless of what most voters want.

The analysis looked at four metrics: partisan-bias, efficiency gap, mean-median difference and declination.

"On every one of these standard partisan fairness metrics, these new maps are the worst, court-adopted maps that we’ve seen anywhere in the country," says Rob Yablon, an associate professor at the law school, who published the analysis.

The analysis finds that Wisconsin's state legislative maps have substantially higher levels of partisan inequity than other court-adopted maps, with a score three to five times worse on each metric. The inequity in these maps means that despite Republicans and Democrats getting approximately the same number of votes statewide, Republican politicians will likely continue to control the vast majority of seats in the Wisconsin state Legislature.

The maps are the result of intense gerrymandering on the part of the Wisconsin Legislature by "cracking and packing" districts, effectively subverting a voter's ability to choose their representation based on partisan affiliation.

"If part of being a healthy democracy means that people have an equality of voice and that equality of voice is meant to be converted into representation so more often-than-not, what the majority of people want, the majority of people get — you know, gerrymandering makes that very difficult," Yablon explains.

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
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