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Dane County

Dane County residents invited to weigh in on redistricting maps

The county is coordinating with Representable.org to offer the “Tell us About Your Community” online tool. It is available for anyone to use free of charge

  • 3 min to read

A commission charged with guiding Dane County through its supervisory map redrawing process wants to hear from local residents.

Brian Standing, a senior planner with the county, told a July 6 meeting of its Redistricting Commission that citizens can offer input through a newly available online mapping tool.

Standing said the county is coordinating with Representable.org to offer the “Tell us About Your Community” online tool. It is available for anyone to use free of charge.

It’s simple to use, Standing said.

Users are first asked a series of questions to gauge “communities of interest” that they might belong to. Then, they’re prompted to draw the geographical boundaries of what they consider their local community, that could also be the boundary for a county supervisory district.

Standing said a “community of interest” is the statutory language on which boundary lines must be based.

“The problem is there’s not a very good definition of what that is. What is a community of interest, how do you define it?” Standing said.

On a fundamental level, he offered, it is where you go most, who you interact with most and who you are most connected to socially and economically.

“Who do you consider your neighbors? What other people, businesses, schools, churches or other organizations do you interact with on a regular basis? What places do you visit or travel to in the course of your day or week? What issues, values, or concerns bind you and your community together?,” said a recent release from the commission.

In coming months, the commission and ultimately the county board will considered such input as it redraws boundaries for the county’s supervisory district seats.

Redistricting is a process required by state and federal law, based on new U.S. Census data collected every 10 years. Dane County expects to have final 2020 Census data in hand by mid-August.

Dane County currently has 37 supervisory districts. A map and more information about each of those is at: dcimapapps.countyofdane.com/supervisors

Standing said a current timeline has the county board adopting new supervisory district maps in December or January, based on a recommendation from the commission.

“We’re sort of just getting into this process now,” he said.

In addition to counties, municipalities are gathering similar information as they also face deadlines to submit new maps.

And it’s not just counties and municipalities that are affected. Based on the 2020 Census, every municipality, county, and state in the country must redraw their respective wards or precincts, aldermanic districts, county supervisory districts, state assembly, senate, and federal congressional districts.

Early this week, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, vetoed Republican legislation that would have delayed local redistricting processes in Wisconsin.

Representable.org is being used across the United States, in nearly two dozen states, as maps are redrawn nationwide.

Dane County information submitted through Representable.org will be uploaded to the Redistricting Commission.

Standing said he expects the commission to hold a public hearing on a tentative map in October, and to then send that map to area municipalities “and they will try to make their wards match where they can, and where they can’t there a negotiation process,” that’s laid out in the statutes.

Dane County has arranged a free online training for anyone who wants to learn how to use Representable.org. It’s at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 15. To register go to https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zF-HA0qvT2a0gfdRViZDMA.

Commission member Nakia Wiley, of Madison, was joined on July 6 by teens from Madison’s south side whom she said were learning about the redistricting process. Wiley said she’s concerned that marginalized communities will be underrepresented in input gathering.

“My concern is rooted in gerrymandering,” Wiley said. “My concern is that the people who need to be reached…I don’t think they are being reached. I just fear that we’re going to get maps (through Representable.org) from a particular group of people who are already in the know.”

Standing encouraged commission members to reach out to community groups about potentially hosting gatherings where they can learn more about Representable.org and get in-person help submitting their “community of interest” information and proposed maps.

County staff “can give you whatever support we can in doing that,” he said.

Wiley said that was encouraging and she said her hope was to organize an in-person event in Madison.

“I would like it be in a room, where we are talking about the maps and we are helping people navigate this system, because they don’t know,” how to do that, Wiley said.

More information on the redistricting process and the commission, a timeline, and other resources is at www.danecountyplanning.com/Projects/Redistricting

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