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Evers’ executive order establishes nonpartisan redistricting commission

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Governor Evers signed an executive order to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission in an effort to draw what he calls are fair and impartial maps in 2021.

“People should be able to choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” Evers said in a news conference at the State Capitol on Monday, Jan. 27.

The commission is set to be made up of volunteers who are not party officials, lobbyists or lawmakers. The group will take census data from later this year and travel the state for input and present to the Legislature next year the maps it believes should be drawn.

Maps were drawn in 2011 by republicans, who had full control of state government, behind closed doors. Democrats believe that led to extreme gerrymandering and the GOP having an unfair advantage over the last decade. Evers said Monday that ideas that are popular in polling – such as universal background checks, red flag laws and Medicaid expansion – are not acted upon because republicans have their seats secured because of the maps drawn.

“Elected officials can ignore those numbers and say, ‘go jump in a lake,’” Evers said. “Something’s wrong.”

While the governor has the power to approve or veto district maps, it’s the Legislature that will eventually draw them. The commission can only present a suggested map.

“A normal process is what we’re going to follow,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) told Wisconsin Public Radio Monday.

The GOP believe their process is fair and democrats are pushing forward a “fake and phony” process because of what he says is an inability to garner votes.

“This is a clear example where democrats [are] fielding faulty candidates and their agenda does not appeal to anyone outside of big cities like Madison or Milwaukee have failed to earn the votes of Wisconsinites,” Vos said.

Advocates for redistricting reform applauded the governor’s efforts and urged transparency throughout the process.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve to know that the process is going to be honest and fair,” said Sachin Chheda, the director of Fair Elections Project. “I’ve asked the secretary of administration to put up a website so that we can see the data that they’re using we can see the results along the way, again sunlight and transparency are the most important thing we have to have this process happen out in the open.”

In the short term, maps presented by the commission may not have a major impact on the republican-controlled legislature, but if there is another court battle over maps, they could play a big role in a case that focuses in on them.

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