Republicans Unveil What They're Calling an 'Iowa-Style' Plan to Redraw Voting Maps

Sept. 12, 2023 5p

(WPR)---In a surprise twist, Wisconsin Republicans announced a plan Tuesday to adapt an Iowa-style system for drawing voting maps in Wisconsin.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is hoping to fast-track the vote for Thursday, saying he wants the new system to be in effect for the 2024 election cycle. 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers almost immediately criticized the proposal, saying it amounts to election interference by Wisconsin Republicans. 

Under the Iowa system, a nonpartisan body draws district maps that are then subject to a vote by the state Legislature. 

The move by Republicans comes as the party is under pressure for targeting newly-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz for possible impeachment. The existing Republican-drawn maps are also facing court challenges likely to go before the state Supreme Court, which is now controlled by a liberal majority.

Vos, R-Rochester, said that implementing a new process would stave off political rancor, after the state Democratic party announced a $4 million campaign fighting impeachment.

"I think...we are going to get this bill passed, we are going to get it signed by Gov. Evers, we're going to have maps that look different," he said. "So there will be no need to have the whole discussion about recusal and millions of dollars of attack ads and special interest trying to buy the election and all the things that we know are coming."

For the Republican's new plan to go into effect, it would need to pass the state Senate and then win the support of Evers.

But in a statement, Evers said Wisconsin Republicans "cannot be trusted to appoint or oversee someone charged with drawing fair maps." 

"Republicans' new effort today to ensure Legislature-picked and Legislature-approved map drawers is just the latest of years' worth of efforts by Republican to interfere with and control the outcome of Wisconsin's elections," Evers said. 


Wisconsin's legislative maps have been subject to a series of legal challenges, with critics saying partisan gerrymandering has given Republicans an unfair advantage. In April 2022, the court ruled 4-3 in favor of a legislative redistricting plan drawn by Republican lawmakers that gave the party's candidates in the Legislature a bigger advantage over the next decade.

New maps are drawn every 10 years.

Editor's note: This story will be updated.

For more on the history of redistricting in Wisconsin and how it impacts political power in the state, check out WPR's investigative podcast series, "Mapped Out."