• WisPolitics


Thursday, February 23, 2012

 5:31 PM 

Mayer testifies on number of voters moved between districts

Kenneth Mayer, the UW Madison political science professor and redistricting expert, said the GOP redistricting plan moved 50 times more people into other districts than was needed statewide, far more in some districts.

Two extreme examples: the 60th AD was only underpopulated by 10 but a total of 35,237 were moved in or out. That's 719 times more than was necessary, he said. The 24th AD had 217 too many people yet nearly 60,000 were moved in to out, 275 times the number required.

Some Senate districts also saw far greater than neeedd shifts, he said. The 2nd SD was underpopulated by 226, but 99,000 moved in or out, 300 times as many were needed. The 17th was overpopulated by 58 but had movement of 39,173 -- 700 times that which was needed.

Senate districts 21 and 22 saw 18.24 times as many people moved as was necessary and most were from 21 to 22 or 22 to 21.

"This number is significantly higher than it could have been or should have been," Mayer said, particularly of the 21st and 22nd in Racine and Kenosha.

The "wild swings" in some districts did not adhere to traditional redistricting methods, he said.

Some movement is inevitable because there are not alternatives. For example, he noted that in one western Wisconsin district, some 20,000 had to be moved and would not be able to vote for a state senator for six years.

Statewide, 5.24 percent were disenfranchised by the movement among districts and that was not acceptable, Mayer testified, particularly in the districts like 21 and 22, where it was unnecessary for rebalancing the population.

Beloit and Marshfied were split unnecessarily, he said. Each had been in one and was split between two Assembly and Senate districts, he said. The result is that the attention of legislators is split and represents a smaller percentage of the legislator's constituency, he said.

The administrative costs of elections also was significantly escalated for Beloit and Marshfield, Mayer said.

Mayer also rebuffed the argument that some voters who will wait six years between regular Senate elections shouldn't be counted toward the 300,000 because they could vote in the recall elections last summer.

He said the recall elections were not the same as an regular election, Mayer said. Despite some $40 million being spent on the recall, the voter turnout was about 38 percent lower than the previous regular election.

-- By Marie Rohde

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