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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

Almost time to redraw map

May 05, 2010 | 08:06 AM
Every 10 years, the political landscape in Wisconsin gets a makeover. This is otherwise known as redistricting or reapportionment, is the process by which senate, assembly and congressional legislative districts are geographically adjusted and boundary lines redrawn in order to maintain equal representation throughout the state.

The law requires redistricting to occur every ten years and coincides with the U.S. Census, which you may have already received. The U.S. Census Bureau requests information of the number of individuals residing within your home and uses that information to determine the amount of federal aid each state receives, the number of U.S. Representative that will represent each state and the manner in which state redistricting will be done.

How Americans are counted has become as important as how many are counted. With demographics changing, the stakes are high, as the control of Congress and statehouses are in play. In Wisconsin, responsibility for redrawing legislative and congressional district lines rests with the state Legislature, although Congress has the right to regulate and modify state plans. The Courts may also weigh if the Legislature can not agree to a new map, as was the case in the last three decades.

Since 1973, Wisconsin has had 33 Senate Districts and 99 Assembly Districts. An odd number of districts exist in order to reduce the likelihood of tie votes in the Legislature. Each district is divided evenly based on the state's population as estimated by the Census Bureau. The population of each Assembly District is about 60,000 residents, and each Senate District, comprised of three Assembly Districts, is estimated to have about 180,000 residents. During the course of the past decade, populations have shifted in different areas of the state, requiring the need for redistricting.

The process of redistricting is lengthy and complicated. First, states must wait about a year to receive the crucial population estimates which are determined from the census data. Next, municipalities with more than 1,000 people must divide into wards. This will be required to be done by August, 2011 in order to facilitate the legislative districting. In the meantime, Congressional redistricting is determined by dividing the U.S. population by the 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives, in order for each of the 50 states to receive the proportionate amount of seats in Washington, D.C. Thereafter, lines are drawn by the Majority party in each House of the state Legislature to create legislative districts of equal population.

The districts must then be passed through the Legislature as a bill and signed into law. Often, a consensus can not be reached between the Houses and the Courts may step in to redraw the map. This entire process must be completed by June 1, 2012 in order for candidates for elective office to begin the process of filing the necessary paperwork for the November 2012 elections.

Even though redistricting is political in nature, there are many factors considered while creating a plan. The goal of redistricting is to ensure each district is nearly equal in population. The rights of minorities, compactness of area, contiguity, and community interest are all factors when deciding where to draw the new lines. Redistricting in Wisconsin will be a very hot topic during the next year and a half, and I encourage you to be aware of the issue, as it could change the person or the party that represents you at the state and federal level during the next decade.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707-7882, or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025, or on-line at www.senatorkedzie.com.

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