Evers signs order creating new redistricting commission

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MADISON, Wis. (AP/WMTV) -- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has signed an executive order creating a nonpartisan commission to draw new legislative maps next year for the Legislature to consider, a move Republicans have rejected as a sham.

(NBC15/Curt Lenz)

“When elected officials are able to ignore their constituents without consequences, and when they can rely on the safety of their seats rather than the quality of their work, something's wrong, folks,” said Evers.

Evers was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Attorney General Josh Kaul, Democratic lawmakers and other supporters of redistricting reform for the signing at his Capitol office on Monday.

Evers supports taking the power to redistrict away from the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. But creating the commission does not take the constitutional duty to draw maps away from the Legislature. 

“The people should choose their elected officials, not the other way around," said Evers. "And when it comes to the integrity of the process and the fairness of the maps, Wisconsin must look to the people, not politicians, to assist in drawing maps that fairly and accurately represent our state.”

The executive order can be found here.

Michael Wagner, a UW-Madison political expert, told NBC15 research shows independent commissions like the one Evers aims to create are typically fairer in redistricting.

"Independent commissions end up in court less, they satisfy voters more, they tend to create more competitive elections. They have a lot of outcomes that we would generally think of as ones that are good for democracy as compared to ones where either the governor’s in charge or the partisan state legislature’s in charge," Wagner explained.

Wagner also said the way legislative districts are drawn can have major impacts on state elections.

"In Wisconsin, in the last election cycle, Democrats won about 60 percent of the votes, but got about 40 percent of the seats, and that’s largely a function of how the redistricting process had been done after the last census," he said.

Evers said new maps would not be drawn until the results of the 2020 census are in, likely in March 2021.