OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV)-Redistricting is taking place all over Wisconsin.
It’s when politicians redraw our voting districts at the state and local level. It happens every 10 years after the federal government releases census data.
Winnebago County began the process this week with the goal to redraw their maps in time for the spring elections. Census data revealed the county’s population grew by nearly 5,000 people.
Monday the Judiciary and Public Safety Committees met to review and forward tentative plans for redistricting to the county board. Tuesday there will be a public hearing at a special county board meeting.
On Sept. 21, the county will adopt a tentative plan which they will send out to municipalities. This ends stage one of a three-stage process which can be found in full here.
Winnebago County is split into 36 supervisory districts. Preliminary plans of how county officials may decide to divvy up the county into those districts can be found here.
“It’s really important that all of our districts are competitive and contiguous and that the population deviation doesn’t vary too much and it’s really important to ensure that our elections are fair, free, and transparent,” says Jason Neumeyer who is a political science lecturer at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Fox Valley Campus.
Counties have 80 days instead of the normal 180 days to complete their redistricting process because the release of census data got delayed because of the pandemic.
In July, Governor Tony Evers vetoed a Republican-authored bill that would have delayed the redrawing of local political maps until 2023.
“It’s good and bad but in the end we’re going to get the work done it may not be as transparent at least that’s what some of the critics are saying,” says Neumeyer.
Neumeyer says gerrymandering, which is when politicians manipulate voting districts to maximize the number of voters who vote for them, happens at the local level but is more pronounced at the state level.
According to its website, Winnebago County adopts its final county redistricting plan on Nov. 16.
Other Northeast Wisconsin counties are going through a similar process and common councils statewide will redistrict their cities as well.