Fair Maps

Katie Fahey, left, led a successful grassroots effort to end gerrymandering in Michigan in 2018. Nathan Pyles, right, of Lake Mills attended the first Fair Maps for Wisconsin statewide summit last weekend.

A Lake Mills resident is doing his part to end gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

Nathan Pyles attended the first “Fair Maps for Wisconsin Summit” held in Marshfield on Saturday, Nov. 9. More than 170 citizens from across the state came together to learn how to end the gerrymandering of voting districts in Wisconsin. Gerrymandering is the drawing of uncompetitive voting districts to benefit incumbent politicians, of both political parties, at the expense of the voters.

“Gerrymandering creates safe voting districts for both political parties which means our representatives only have to please their party to retain their seat, not their entire constituent base,” said Nathan Pyles of Lake Mills. “This has led to greater polarization and extremist political positions. When we have fair maps that are not drawn to favor one party or the other, we get more compromise and more reasonable and effective public policy. Whereas in a gerrymandered world, compromise becomes dirty word.”

Katie Fahey of Michigan was a featured speaker at this all day summit. Three years ago, at 28 years old, Fahey was bothered that political polarization had even taken the fun out of their family annual Thanksgivings dinners. She made a single line post to social media about wanting to end gerrymandering, and she unearthed a groundswell of volunteer support, Pyles said.

Fahey organized “Voters Not Politicians,” a group of over 10,000 volunteers who had a hand in passing a Michigan State referendum in 2018 with 61% of the vote that amended their state constitution to require fair voting districts and end gerrymandering.

“Katie is an amazing young leader,” Pyles, commented. “Against all odds she fought a broken system and fixed it, restoring the value of each vote in Michigan.”

The Wisconsin state constitution does not have a provision for amending its constitution through public referendum, but there is pending legislation, Assembly Bill 303 and State Senate Bill 288, that would end Wisconsin gerrymandering by adopting the Iowa Model for redistricting. Iowa has successfully used a non-partisan redistricting commission to draw voting districts since 1980.

“Lake Mills is in State Senate District 13 and our State Senator is the Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald,” Pyles said. “Senator Fitzgerald has refused to consider or support legislation to end gerrymandering in Wisconsin, and is in fact, a major roadblock to creating fair voting districts. Therefore Lake Mills’ residents have a critical role to play in ending gerrymandering across the state. Democracy is when voters choose their politicians. It is not politicians choosing their voters.” Pyles continued, “The most important thing I learned from Katie is that involved citizens can make a difference. Democracy is ours to protect.”

Those interested in joining Pyles to end gerrymandering can get more information at fairelectionsproject.org or by emailing him at pyles.nathan@gmail.com.

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