Each redistricting dataset merges the electoral data the SWDB collected and processed over the preceding decade with the most current census data (PL94-171). The result is a census block level dataset that allows for longitudinal analysis of electoral data over time on the same unit of analysis. Electoral data consist of the Statements of Vote (SOV) and Statements of Registration (SOR) for each statewide election. These data are collected from the Registrars of Voters for each of the 58 California counties with each election.
The SWDB collects the Statement of Vote and the Statement of Registration along with various geography files from each of the 58 counties for every statewide election. The Statement of Vote is a precinct level dataset and precincts in California change frequently between elections. The goal of the SWDB is to make election data available that can be compared over time, on the same unit of analysis – a precinct, a census block or a census tract.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, February 24, 2012
Author: PATRICK MARLEY, firstname.lastname@example.org, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Staff
In drawing new election districts last year, Republican lawmakers shifted huge numbers of voters into new districts, in one case moving more than 700 times the number of people needed, according to court testimony Thursday.
They could have left the 60th Assembly District in Ozaukee County largely alone because it was underpopulated by just 10 people. Instead, they moved 17, 595 people out of the district and put 17, 963 people into it. In all, the shift moved 719 times as many people as was necessary, testified Ken Mayer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist.
The moves also had profound effects for the Latino neighborhoods on Milwaukee's near south side, he said. There, the new batch of voters in the 8th Assembly District "would simply overwhelm the voting power of the Latino community and severely diminish their ability to elect the candidate of their choice," Mayer testified.
To set the right population levels in the district on Milwaukee's near south side, lawmakers needed to add about 2, 800 people. But instead they pulled almost 23, 000 people out of the district and added about 25, 600 people to it.
The result: Almost half of the people who used to be in the district no longer are, Mayer said. Similar shifts occurred in the neighboring 9th Assembly District.
"They were both in my view radically reconfigured," Mayer testified.
Mayer's comments came on the first morning of testimony in a trial that will determine whether the districts around the state will be kept in place or have to be redrawn.
The matter is of import for voters because the way the state's legislative and congressional maps are drawn will determine which political party has an edge for the next 10 years.
Once a decade, after each U.S. census, states must draw new lines to account for shifts in population. Because the stakes are high and the law is complex, redistricting litigation is common in Wisconsin and other states.
In most recent decades in Wisconsin, the two political parties shared control of the statehouse and were unable to agree on maps. That left it to courts to draw them.
This time is different because Republicans run the Capitol and were able to approve maps last year that favor the GOP. But even before they made their maps public, a group of Democratic citizens sued in federal court in Milwaukee. Their case was later consolidated with one by the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, and it is being heard by a special three-judge panel.
The groups argue the maps violate the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act because of how they treat Latino areas and because they make 300, 000 people wait six years, instead of the usual four, between their chances to vote in a state Senate election.
The groups suing the state have also asked the judges to rule that the old maps must be used for likely recall elections this summer, but presiding Judge J.P. Stadtmueller signaled Thursday the court would not rule on that issue. The state is not contesting the Democrats' position and says the panel should not rule on the issue because nothing is in dispute. Stadtmueller indicated the matter might be better for state courts to decide. A group of Republican citizens already has filed two lawsuits in state court arguing the new maps should be used for recall elections, but those cases have been tied up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court for months.
Groups at meeting Also Thursday, a filing with the federal court showed the Republicans' redistricting team met with Realtors and other groups about drawing maps around January 2011, shortly after the GOP took control of the statehouse. Those groups spend heavily to elect Republicans.
Jim Troupis, an attorney for the Legislature, said in a deposition the Realtors were at the meeting and that he believed also present were a bankers group and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's large business lobby.
Troupis discussed the meeting during an eight-hour deposition that occurred Thursday night and was filed with the court Friday. He did not describe in detail what was discussed.
The meeting with the groups occurred just months before the redistricting team had most Republican lawmakers sign secrecy agreements promising not to discuss the maps with anyone. In an opening statement Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar disputed Mayer's interpretation of the maps. She said the way Republicans drew the maps would give Latinos an opportunity to select two candidates to the Assembly - instead of one - because they kept a large Latino population in the 8th Assembly District while also adding Hispanics to the 9th Assembly District.
The panel hearing the case - two of them appointed by Republican presidents - repeatedly has admonished GOP lawmakers for the secretive process they used to draw the maps.
But Lazar argued on Thursday that the judges must concentrate on the maps themselves, rather than how they were drawn.
"The process of legislation is not on trial," she said.
She noted the last time lawmakers and the governor were able to approve maps was in 1983, when Democrats controlled the statehouse.
"Had the Democratic Party held the majority and the governor's office (last year), a similar legislative process would have been implemented, as it was in 1983," she said. Later, another attorney for the state pointed out that Democrats planned to rail against the map as unfair a week before they saw it.
"Our message is the process and the map is unconstitutional, political and partisan," according to talking points for Assembly leaders prepared a week before they received the maps.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in testimony the talking points were prepared in advance based on rumors they heard - and he contended they ended up being accurate.
"That's exactly what happened, ironically," he said. "We projected very well what might happen." One of the Democrats' arguments against the map in the case is over 300, 000 people who otherwise would get to vote this year for a state senator but have been put into a district that has its next Senate election in 2014. That means they have to wait an extra two years to vote.
That is always going to happen to some number of people whenever new maps are drawn, Mayer said. But Republicans moved far more people than they had to, thus temporarily disenfranchising them.
As an example of that situation, he highlighted what happened in the 27th Senate District in western Dane County. That fast-growing district needed to shed about 25, 000 people. Republicans instead added more than 69, 000 people to the district and shifted 95, 000 people out of it.
Court proceedings began Tuesday, but the trial did not start in earnest until Thursday because the court had urged lawmakers to voluntarily make changes to the maps taking into account the legal challenges. They declined to do so.
Lawmakers hired two law firms, Michael Best & Friedrich and the Troupis Law Office, to advise them on drawing the maps. They have committed $400,000 in taxpayer money for that work.
In addition, Gov. Scott Walker has hired Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren to assist the Department of Justice with the litigation. That firm has billed the state $288,000, and the cap on its contract is being raised to $925,000.
Copyright 2012, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)
Memo: The panel hearing the case has admonished GOP lawmakers for the secretive process they used to draw the maps. But Lazar argued that the judges must concentrate on the maps, rather than how they were drawn.
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