Former Wisconsin State Senators Tim Cullen, a Democrat, and Dale Schultz, a Republican, have joined together for a bipartisan effort to end gerrymandering, which they say has caused disruption of the political system in Wisconsin. Cullen and Schultz, who both served as majority leaders of the State Senate, are co-chairs of the Fair Election Project, which has helped organize a lawsuit challenging the legality of how Republicans redrew Wisconsin’s election districts in 2010. The lawsuit, Gill v. Whitford, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a column in the Washington Post, Cullen and Schultz write that “extreme partisan gerrymandering” – the practice of redrawing political boundaries to benefit one party over another – “has taken hold in Wisconsin and other states, where politicians and special interests have rigged the system, manipulating voting maps to keep their own political party in power with little regard for the will of the voters.”
They point out that although Wisconsin is basically split evenly between Republican and Democratic voters, gerrymandering has resulted in Republican domination of the State Assembly, with Republicans holding 61 to 65 percent of the seats, “even when they earned fewer popular votes than Democrats statewide.”
“That’s because Republicans used their electoral victories in 2010 to promptly — and secretly — draw legislative district maps that ensured Republican control of the state legislature for a decade, no matter how the people voted,” they write. “In 2012, they lost the popular vote but still retained a massive majority in the legislature. They even tried to hide their analysis, which revealed that Democrats would have had to secure an almost-unprecedented share of the statewide vote to secure a bare majority in the Assembly.”
Cullen and Schultz write that they hope the U.S. Supreme Court will curtail “the practice of fixing elections through gerrymandering so that our country can get back on track.”
“The principle is simple,” they write. “Elections should be fair and should be designed so that voters choose their elected officials, not the other way around. We believe the majority should rule, and elections should reflect the will of the electorate. But when the maps are rigged, people are left behind.”
Read the entire column in the Washington Post:
Tim Cullen is a former Democratic majority leader of the Wisconsin Senate. Dale Schultz is a former Republican majority leader of the Wisconsin Senate. They are co-chairs of the Fair Elections Project, which helped organize the Gill v. Whitford litigation. As politicians from different parties, we disagree a lot.