On Jan. 4, a group of 36 Wisconsin citizens, “Concerned Voters of Wisconsin,” hailing from all 33 State Senate Districts, filed a friend of the court brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Johnson v Wisconsin Election Commission.
The brief was filed by Laffey, Leitner, & Goode of Milwaukee, counsel for the group. Attorney Mark M. Leitner, on behalf of the Concerned Voters of Wisconsin, stated: “Our firm was pleased to join in this effort by a group of concerned Wisconsin voters – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – who ask the Court to hear what everyday citizen voters have to say about redistricting in this state. The people are tired of gerrymandering— on both sides of the aisle—and it is time for the courts to recognize that the people need to be heard. This brief sends a clear message that ‘we the people’ matter.”
The redistricting map assessments leading to the brief were performed by members of the Wisconsin Maps Assessment Project (WIMAP, pronounced “we map”). Led by Dr. Don Leake, Professor Emeritus UW-River Falls, WIMAP is a group of everyday Wisconsin voters from across the state and the political divide who believe that fair redistricting is an essential foundation of a representative democracy. Other WIMAP members are Jenelle Ludwig Krause of rural Baldwin and David Fodroczi of rural Osceola. Leake and Fodroczi are also among the 36 Concerned Voters of Wisconsin who filed the brief.
WIMAP spent more than a year learning about redistricting principles and mechanics, consulting with experts on the legal, political and mathematical aspects of redistricting, and listening to the concerns of ordinary citizens. Using sophisticated publicly available software developed by national experts, WIMAP members drew and submitted their own maps earlier in the redistricting process. WIMAP evaluated its own maps and those submitted by the Peoples Map Commission, the Wisconsin Legislature, and the general public. WIMAP analyzed the merits of the maps submitted to the Court in the Johnson case.
When asked about the brief, Dr. Leake stated, “The WIMAP team spent countless hours conducting their own independent assessment of the maps and related documents under consideration by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We concluded that the Legislature’s Assembly map was the worst of the maps submitted, including many dubious, unnecessary changes to Assembly District 30 right here in River Falls and Hudson.”
Learn more about WIMAP’s work at https://piercecountygro.org/WIMAP/.
The Concerned Voters offer something unique to the Court: A redistricting analysis done not by politicians or lawyers, but rather by informed citizen voters, from the voters’ perspective. The Concerned Voters come from cities, suburbs, small towns, and family farms. Among them are mathematicians, a community planner, a software engineer, scientists, teachers, small business owners, a veteran and coach, an accountant, lawyers, an IT professional, a newspaper editor, a member of a Native American Tribe, a doctor, and more.
The Concerned Voters seek the same benefit they ask for everyone living in Wisconsin: a just and representative government. As true “friends of the Court,” they offer a unique perspective the Court can consider while it wrestles with redistricting, a challenging exercise the Concerned Voters believe is critical to the survival of our republic.
Wisconsin voters raised their voices then they drew their own maps, but were ignored by the Wisconsin Legislature. They raised their voices when they went to Madison to testify, but were ignored by the Legislature. Today, Concerned Voters of Wisconsin raise their voices in court. They demand to be heard.
Submitted by David Fodroczi, Western Wisconsin Nonpartisan Voting Districts (WWNVD) and Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP)