Senator Mary Lazich insists there is no need for redistricting reform. This is noteworthy because she chairs the committee that is sitting on legislation to overhaul the redistricting process in Wisconsin that closely mirrors the system in place in Iowa.
Lazich dismisses Iowa's nonpartisan approach to redistricting as "nonsense" and cites one study that speculates “taking redistricting out of the hands of a unified legislature and giving it to a bipartisan or judicial commission could result in less competitive elections.”
She overlooks the fact that of Iowa's four U.S. House districts, two rank among the 20 most competitive of the country's 435 congressional districts. None of Wisconsin's eight House districts ranked among the 50 most competitive. In 2012, none of Wisconsin's congressional elections were competitive. All were won by double-digit margins.
The way redistricting is handled currently in Wisconsin badly weakens voters, thwarts the public's will, and virtually cements in place those already holding office. It's good for the politicians and bad for the voting public.
It's no surprise Senator Lazich is fond of the way it works now. But if your idea of democracy involves having citizens in the driver's seat, partisan redistricting done by elected officials is pure poison.
A simple choice has to be made. We either can have voters choosing representatives, or representatives choosing voters. If you are OK with the latter, then Senator Lazich is showing the way. If you prefer the former, then we need the reform embodied in Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185 in the worst way.