Rock County voters have overwhelmingly approved an advisory referendum designed to combat gerrymandering.
The question was, “Should the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for making legislative and congressional district plans?”
The vote was 28,014 in favor and 6,738 opposed.
That’s more than 80% in favor. Support for the referendum generally splits along party lines, with Democrats in favor. In the presidential preference primaries, about 68% of county voters voted Democratic, so it appears some local Republicans also favor nonpartisan redistricting.
The referendum has no legal power, but it sends a message to lawmakers, said county board member Rich Bostwick, who proposed the referendum.
“It’s very gratifying that people are willing put partisan politics aside and look at fairness, and that’s what this initiative was all about,” Bostwick said.
Lawmakers have long drawn the voting-district boundaries to favor the political party in power.
The practice is called gerrymandering, which is seen by many as unfair. Others say the voters made a choice when voting for their representatives, so the party in power should redraw the boundaries.
The Republicans held power when districts were last drawn in 2010. The next redistricting process will come after census numbers are known this year, with a Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate and a Democrat, Tony Evers, as governor with veto power.
Bostwick suggested people pressure their state senators and representatives to make the change, and he said they should focus on “the person likely to ignore the voices of the people.”
Bostwick would not mention names, but the Rock County delegation to the state Legislature is mostly Democrats. The lone Republican is Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton.