MENOMONEE FALLS — About 100 people turned out in Menomonee Falls outside the Village Hall Friday to urge the Wisconsin Supreme Court to end the practice of gerrymandering.
The event, put together by Grassroots Germantown and Menomonee Falls Action Team, included remarks by Assembly Rep. Sara Rodriguez, D-Brookfield, who spoke on the importance of fair maps.
Rodriguez, who is also running for lieutenant governor, said she introduced fair maps legislation at the Assembly, but “it didn’t even get a hearing.” She said gerrymandered maps lead to more extreme partisanship, even as voters urge elected officials to work together.
The event had a conservative speak out against Wisconsin’s existing legislative maps as well. Voters First Wisconsin Executive Director Lena Eng, a self-proclaimed conservative from New Berlin, likened gerrymandering to the upcoming Packers-49ers football game — if the Packers made the 49ers end zone “half as deep and wide” as their own to make it easier for one team to score than the other.
“Regardless of our political leanings we all want fair and free elections,” Eng said. “(We) must start with maps that are not rigged to favor either political party.”
Rally goers signed a pledge to support candidates who are in favor of non-partisan redistricting. They also held signs calling for fair maps and an end to gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is a practice of drawing district boundaries to favor one party despite overall voter preference. Wisconsin and other states, such as Illinois, have been found to have made use of gerrymandering to heavily advantage one political party over another, Republicans in the former case and Democrats in the latter. “I think the biggest statement we would like to make is that democracy depends on citizens being active and upholding democeacy, and we currently do not have citizens acting in their own interest,” said Vicki Aro-Schackmuth, chair of WI Fair Maps Waukesha County Team and one of the event coordinators. She said the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Legislature are acting in a partisan fashion, so it’s on the people to put pressure on them.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is weighing the merits of competing maps for the next decade. A final decision has not yet been issued.