The Republican-led Wisconsin Legislature passed absurdly gerrymandered legislative redistricting maps earlier this summer. The changes are being challenged in federal court and have a better than average chance of being found unconstitutional, but even if the flawed redistricting plan is upheld by the courts, it is not set to go into effect until the November, 2012 general election.
If that’s the case, then why did the legislature’s web page change recently to list the future districts (which the courts will very likely not allow) as “current” districts?
Here’s the image that popped up when I entered my address on the “Who Represents Me?” function linked on the legislature’s home page:
So, am I currently represented by Sondy Pope-Roberts, as listed under the “Current” district maps? Well, no. My representative is Kelda Helen Roys. What they list as “previous” is actually the current map.
This is an intentional effort on the part of Republican legislative leaders to confuse constituents. But why? The most obvious explanation for this deliberate slap at the integrity of our democracy is that four Republican Senators are facing recall elections. Petition circulators are ahead of their goals in collecting signatures in all four of those districts. The website has been configured to mislead potential petition signers and confuse the volunteers who are collecting the signatures. Plain and simple.
The Republicans first tried changing their own redistricting law a few weeks ago to make it effective immediately but moderate Republican Dale Schultz sided with Democrats and stopped that plan in its tracks. The Republican leaders also tried twisting the arms of the Government Accountability Board to get them to declare that the recall elections should happen in the “new” districts. The GAB said no.
Now, they are filing and withdrawing various lawsuits and changing lawyers to try to get some court somewhere to approve their attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game. So, until they can find a judge to give them the nod, they have decided to flat-out lie to their constituents.
If you are a resident of Wisconsin and you use the official government website to find out who represents you in the Wisconsin legislature, it’s quite possible you will get the wrong answer. On purpose. Go ahead. Try it.