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Assembly Democrats propose to change Wisconsin’s redistricting system

(Wis)-- State Assembly Democrats are hoping to change the way Wisconsin sets up its election districts by putting the decision in voter’s hands.

Democrats introduced a resolution to create a referendum that would direct a statewide vote on a non-partisan group redrawing political boundaries in the state.

Wachs says Republicans, who hold the majority in both the Senate and Assembly, have been unwilling to hold public hearings on a Democratic-sponsored bill that would create a non-partisan process.

Right now the legislature redraws voting districts every 10 years along with census numbers. But Democratic Assemblyman Dana Wachs of Eau Claire says gerrymandering has taken over the process making the district party-based not voter based. For example Wachs says in 2011 Assembly Democrats earned 174,000 more votes than Republicans but only hold 39 seats compared to the 60 seats Republicans hold.

"That’s not an equal representative of the people. I think only through nonpartisan group will that become a priority in the state again,” said Wachs.

While Republican Assemblyman Tom Larson of Colfax agrees the system can improve he says he's not sure this change is the right one.

"I think it would be difficult to have a group of the people who are completely nonpartisan. The way it’s done now whichever group has power when the census is taken has the authority to do it. And that’s been swinging back and forth it’s not always republicans or always democrats either,” said Larson.

Over the next two weeks the resolution will be circulated throughout the assembly. It would have to be passed by both the assembly and senate to be put on the ballot in 2014.

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