With the 2020 census well underway, the creation of new political maps — laying out Assembly, Senate, and US Congressional districts — will begin soon. Unlike in previous years, the new maps will be drawn by a nonpartisan commission of citizens. Residents interested in serving on the People’s Map Commission have until Friday, July 31 to submit their applications to the Office of Governor Tony Evers.
The People’s Maps Commission will consist of nine residents who are 18 years of age or older. These individuals cannot be elected officials, lobbyists, or political party officials. Evers said the commission will help draw fair, impartial maps for the Legislature to vote on in 2021.
“The first course of action will be deciding members of the task force which we want to have demographic and regional diversity representing the whole state,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said.
At least one person from each of Wisconsin’s eight Congressional Districts, one African American member, one Latinx member, and one member from an Indigenous Nation will serve on the task force. A selection panel made up of three retired judges — Justice Janine Geske, Judge Joseph Troy, and Judge Paul Higginbotham — will review all eligible applicants.
“I believe, and I know Wisconsinites do, too, that the people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” Evers said.
Barnes said the current political maps have been scrutinized for a reason. Evers said those maps were drawn behind closed doors without public input, resulting in years of litigation. This People’s Map Commission is a part of Evers’ promise to fight for nonpartisan redistricting and fair, nonpartisan maps.
“The goal of the committee is to restore democracy to Wisconsin,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said.
Fifty-one of the state’s 72 counties — representing nearly 80 percent of Wisconsin’s population — have passed resolutions or referenda supporting nonpartisan redistricting. The Commission will host public hearings in each congressional district to receive input from residents across the state, experts, and stakeholders on the redistricting process.
“We want this to be as apolitical a process as possible,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said.
Members of the People’s Maps Commission are required to participate in the hearings, however, the Commission will likely conduct hearings virtually because of COVID-19. There will be at least one hearing for each of the eight congressional districts. Barnes encourages residents to attend even if they do not plan on applying to join the Commission.
“It’s not too early to start thinking about the process of map drawing because it affects every state election,” he said.
Those interested in learning more about the People’s Map Commission should visit https://govstatus.egov.com/peoplesmaps.