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More than 80 percent of the counties in Wisconsin went for Donald Trump in 2016. Now, two-thirds of the counties are backing an effort to end partisan gerrymandering.

De-politicizing maps gains support in some red stretches of Wisconsin

Two-thirds of the counties in Wisconsin — home to more than 70 percent of its population — have gone on record in favor of de-politicizing the state's legislative mapmaking.

A coalition of good-government groups has been leading the effort to gain support among county governments to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. They are advocating for legislation that has some bipartisan support in Madison but is still seen as a long shot. It would take redistricting responsibility out of the hands of the Legislature in 2021 and give it to state bureaucrats, who would be barred from considering partisan voting patterns in drawing boundaries.

Wisconsin is the first state to consider such legislation since the Supreme Court this summer said federal courts had no role in settling partisan gerrymandering claims.

The ruling effectively killed a federal lawsuit in which Wisconsin Democrats said their free speech and equal protection rights were being infringed by maps drawn by Republicans at the start of the decade. While Democrats won a majority of votes sitewide in last year's midterm, five of the eight congressional seats were won by Republicans and they also secured a lopsided majority in the state House and a five-vote edge in the state Senate.

"The fact that two thirds of Wisconsin's 72 counties, many of them 'red,' are now on record in support of ending partisan gerrymandering, demonstrates the deep grassroots support across the state for fair voting maps and against rigged elections," Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Independent.

A recent Marquette University Law School poll found 72 percent support for taking redistricting responsibilities away from elected Republicans and Democrats. The bill would emulate the system of neighboring Iowa, which in 1980 became the first state to end partisan gerrymandering.

The Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, which has more than a dozen participating groups, is planning a meeting Nov. 9 where organizers can develop strategies for lobbing the Legislature.

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Election security efforts should be expanded to cover the vendors who provide the equipment and other systems used to record and count votes, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Here a Miami-Dade County election worker checks voting machines for accuracy.

Election equipment vendors should face more security oversight, report argues

Efforts to fend off election hackers in 2020 and beyond have revolved around protecting ballot equipment and the databases of registered voters. Little attention has been focused on the vendors and their employees.

But the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice is proposing that the vendors who make election equipment and related systems be subjected to heightened oversight and vetting, much like defense contractors or others involved in national security.

"There is almost no federal regulation of the vendors that design and maintain the systems that allow us to determine who can vote, how they vote, or how their votes are counted and reported," according to a new report from the nonpartisan policy institute.

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