MILWAUKEE (WSAU) A panel of three federal judges has upheld all but two of the new voting districts in Wisconsin.. The ruling says the new 8th and 9th asembly districts, which reach into the Milwaukee's south side, need to be redrawn because the number of Hispanic voters in each district was a factor in determining the boundaries. The court has asked state lawmakers to adjust the lines quickly because of upcoming elections.
The ruling says the districts violate the Federal Voter Rights Act, which says ethnic groups cannot be intentionally divided to weaken their power at the ballot box.
The state legislature must agree on new voting districts every ten years. The GOP has lost its majority in the state senate, meaning Democrats will have a larger voice in today’s court-ordered changes. The court ruling says the other district boundaries cannot be changed. If lawmakers can’t agree on redistricting, a panel of judges steps in and draws the lines.
This morning’s decision is a major victory for Republicans, who were accused of drawing GOP-friendly lines after the 2010 census. The 7th congressional district, currently represented by freshman Republican Sean Duffy, was redrawn to add more-conservative parts of northeastern Wisconsin. The 3rd congressional district, represented by Democrat Ron Kind, will add Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids.
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story did not make clear that the court's ruling refers to the 8th and 9th assembly, not congressional, districts in the Milwaukee area. A clarified version of this story and a corrected headline are posted above.