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9/27/2010 - Does Redistricting Need Revamping? - Click here to print this information

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By Bob Dohr

It may not receive the level of attention as, say, the statewide smoking ban or some other hot-button political issues, but when a non-partisan observer uses the words "horrendous" and "disgrace" to describe Wisconsin's process of redistricting, it's worth spending some time on.

Redistricting is the redrawing of congressional and legislative boundaries. It's done in the year following the census, which takes place every ten years.

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, says right now the state has a "horrendous" process from the standpoint of citizens wanting to know what's going on in their government.










For example, Heck says in 1998 there were what he describes as four competitive congressional districts. After 2001 he says there was one (the 8th). Heck says two districts that used to be competitive -- and now aren't -- are the 1st and 2nd.










Heck says it'll be an "uphill" process to revamp the system because the legislature itself would have to agree to the change. The change could entail assigning the redistricting chores to a nonpartisan board, similar to the way it's handled in states like California, Iowa or Arizona.

Heck says lawmakers would feel more compelled to reform the system if they get pressure to do so from their constituents, saying educating the public is "probably the most important part" of the process.

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