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The Most Gerrymandered State Now Has Fair Maps

know your facts Feb 21, 2024
Wisconsin vintage map via

Wisconsin has long been one of the most gerrymandered states in the United States. For more than a decade, Democrats had tried to overturn the Republican drawn maps, but a Republican dominated state legislature and state Supreme Court made that impossible. The way the maps were drawn for the last decade have made it impossible for Democrats to have a fair chance to win a majority in the legislature, even as Democrats have won 14 of the last 17 statewide elections.

With the election of liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court in August, Democrats had control of the court (4 to 3) for the first time in 15 years. State Democrats filed a lawsuit the day after her election to redraw maps for the state legislature. In December, the court ruled that the current maps are unconstitutional because dozens of districts weren’t contiguous, a requirement under the Wisconsin constitution. Meaning that dozens of districts had detached areas that were not connected to the main part of the district. The court decided that if the Republican legislature could not pass maps that the Democratic governor would sign by mid-March, the court would draw the maps.

Several maps were submitted to the court and evaluated by outside consultants. Consultants determined that the maps submitted by the Republican legislature and a conservative law firm were “partisan gerrymanders,” but the four maps drawn by the governor and Democratic lawmakers were fair.

In a Twitter post, Governor Evers stated: “I've promised from the beginning that I will always try to do the right thing. Today, I'm keeping that promise and I'm signing fair maps for Wisconsin. Wisconsin, for the first time in over a decade, we will not have some of the most gerrymandered maps in America.

Before signing the new maps into law on Monday, Governor Evers said, “When I promised I wanted fair maps — not maps that are better for one party or another, including my own — I damn well meant it. Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state — we’re a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact.”  

Evers also said, “The people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. And under the maps I’m signing today, I am making good on that promise.”

However, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the map drawn by the governor’s office passed the legislature because it was “the most Republican-leaning maps out of all the Democrat-gerrymandered maps being considered by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.” Republicans thought they were better off choosing a map than letting the state court draw one. The fact that they were still looking for Republican-leaning maps instead of fair maps speaks volumes.

All but two Democrats voted against the new maps because they wanted the state’s new liberal Supreme Court to rule on the lawsuit and choose new the new map.


The bill states that the new maps will be in effect for the November elections, but not any special elections that happen before then. That language is standard from the Legislative Reference Bureau.

But there are questions because the current map has already been ruled unconstitutional. So the state can’t knowingly use an unconstitutional map to hold a special election. This will likely go to the state Supreme Court for verification. It’s a point of contention for Assembly Speaker Vos who is facing a potential recall election before November. He’d prefer to use the old map for his district.

What’s Next

Democrats are also asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review the state’s congressional district lines. Currently, Republicans hold six of the state’s eight congressional seats.

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