A group of Democratic voters in Wisconsin filed suit against the state's elections commission on Friday, asking a federal court in Madison to declare the state's current legislative and congressional districts unconstitutional for use in imminent redistricting efforts.
The lawsuit, which came less than a day after the Census Bureau released its detailed decennial population data to states, argued in particular that Wisconsin's current districts are "unconstitutionally malapportioned" and based on old data. It further asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to intervene with a plan of its own in the event that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-led state legislature fail to reach a deal on a redistricting plan.
The plaintiffs' suit, which was filed by attorneys with liberal legal group Democracy Docket, relies strongly on the assumption that political gridlock will preclude the government from reaching an agreement on how the state's districts should be drawn for the next ten years.
"There is no reasonable prospect that Wisconsin's political branches will reach consensus to enact lawful legislative and congressional district plans in time to be used in the upcoming 2022 election," the lawsuit read, noting Wisconsin's divided government.
Plaintiffs pointed to delays in the distribution of the redistricting data, which the Census Bureau blamed on disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as responsible for condensing the period of time during which the state can draw up new districts before next year's midterm elections. The shortened window increases the chance of an impasse, the plaintiffs said.
Such gridlock could result in a reversion to the current district map for the purposes of administering the 2022 election, thereby violating voters' 14th Amendment right to equal protection due to its use of data from 2010, according to the suit.
"Given the likelihood of an impasse, this court should prepare itself to intervene to protect the constitutional rights of plaintiffs and voters across this state," it added, saying that without court action, the strength of Wisconsinites' votes would be "diluted."
New census data revealed that the population of Wisconsin increased by less than 4% over the past 10 years, and the state will neither add nor lose any congressional district seats. Republicans in the state are using those results to argue that the redistricting process need only take up minor changes, according to the Associated Press.
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Wisconsin Elections Commission for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Original Location: Voters sue Wisconsin over district lines after census data's release