for Walworth County
by Dan Russler
A Creative Commons article
From April through July, 2021, community maps and redistricting proposal maps have been posted by many Wisconsin voters. Maps were submitted to the Wisconsin People's Maps Commission (WPMC) and posted by WPCM on one of their websites. The intent of the WPMC was to collect these community maps and redistricting proposals from any Wisconsin resident who wished to submit one.
"Voting Maps for Walworth County" is a project that selects community maps and redistricting proposals from the PMC websites that relate in some way to Walworth County, WI.
For example, the regional map at the top of this page illustrates both school districts in the region of Walworth County and proposed Wisconsin Congressional Districts optimized to support these school districts.
The state map to the right illustrates proposed Wisconsin Congressional Districts optimized for compact district shapes that balance populations very closely.
Everyone has different thoughts about which priorities are most important when creating voting maps for Wisconsin. Often, these are based on their own community priorities, e.g. school districts, county government, minority support, transportation needs, grocery shopping and healthcare services.
There are four lists of maps below:
Note: Each entry below includes the blue web address (URL) to the PMC Portal submission when possible. Below the snapshot of the map in the Portal is the button for the original DistrictR interactive map. Please click on this DistrictR button to review the map along with population statistics and other, more detailed information about the community:
1. Walworth County Communities of Interest (COI)
Map: Palmyra-Eagle Area COI
Notable features: Demonstrates a school district that carries the name of two villages, one on each side of the Jefferson/Waukesha County Border. Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit (purple) runs right through the center of this community.
Mapping Details (Municipal Borders on left; School District Borders center; County Border right; colored areas are voting wards):
Map: Whitewater & Surrounds
Notable features: A Jefferson County border city; discusses City of Whitewater borders, Town of Whitewater borders and Whitewater Unified School District borders. Points out the needless district splitting of a small lake community south of Whitewater
Comments: If the school district radio button is turned on in the Data Layer of the the interactive map, the strong mismatch between local voting ward borders and the school district borders are readily visible. In the case of the Whitewater Unified School District, this means school board members and administrators may need to interact with representatives from three different counties: Walworth, Rock and Jefferson Counties. For example, special education students in the Whitewater school district may have to be sent to three different County-level special-ed support locations by school administrators.
Implications: Jefferson County should be working with both Rock County and Walworth County to locally simplify the complexity of school district administration. That includes matching the local voting ward borders with school district borders and, perhaps, shifting local political borders to simplify public representation for these border communities. see Cambridge above for discussion of chains of public representation.
Mapping Details (Municipal Borders on left; School District Borders center; County Border right; colored areas are voting wards):
Map: Richmond Township south of Whitewater
Notable features: In addition to discussing the fracturing of Richmond Township due to separate taxing entities and divided public representation, relationships with Whitewater and Fort Atkinson in Jefferson County are highlighted
Mapping Details (School District Borders; colored areas are voting wards):
Map: Whitewater Township
Notable features: Discusses strong relationships to Whitewater, Fort Atkinson, Janesville and Elkhorn that should not be split by future redistricting
Mapping Details (County Borders; colored areas are voting wards):
2. WI Congressional Districts Proposals
Note: Many Congressional Districts Proposals can be found on the PMC mapping site by performing an advanced search and selecting "Any Districting Plan" under the title "Submission Type." These next two examples illustrate how two maps drawn by different people can end up being remarkably similar. Other Congressional maps follow:
Map: Prairie Cafe Team 1
Notable features: water-feature community support, e.g. Lake Michigan shoreline, Central Upper River Basins, Lower Rock River Basin, Mississippi River and Driftless Area, Fox River Valley and Northern Lake Country; Minority Support in Milwaukee County; Mostly compact districts; and District population deviation of only 0.06%
Comments: One of the best district population deviation statistics found
Implications: For Jefferson County, a Congressional District proposal like this confers a number of benefits. First, our county representative can all work together with one Federal Representative, giving Jefferson county voters more efficiency in our local government costs. Second, for two of our border communities, Cambridge and Whitewater, ties to Dane, Rock and Walworth Counties also unify Federal representation into one person. Unfortunately, this proposal still splits Watertown by the Jefferson/Dodge County border. A third benefit is that the water flow in our area is collected by the Rock River as the river heads down to Janesville and then Illinois beyond. Unfortunately, just as Jefferson County receives the pollution into our wells and waterways from headwater regions north of us, Janesville receives our pollution from Jefferson County as well as our pass-through pollution from headwater regions. Nevertheless, since the Rock River is an interstate river, pollution from Wisconsin to Illinois via the Rock could be represented well by our local Federal House Representative. Then our local Federal House Representative could communicate Illinois concerns more efficiently to our local State and County representatives
Map: Wisc., Congressional Districts
Notable features: Tightly compact districts with respect for Communities of Interest; Minority support in Milwaukee County; and District population deviation of only 0.07%
Comments: In addition to a very low District population deviation and Minority Support in Milwaukee County, this congressional map shares several common district shapes with the congressional map above: a united Northern district; and a similar Driftless Area district. The differences lie mostly in how the densely-populated southeast portion of Wisconsin is parsed into districts.
Implications: For Jefferson County, this map provides an interesting comparison with the map above. In this map, all three of our border communities are unified across county borders. However, in this map, Cambridge is unified under a Dane County Congressional representative instead of our Jefferson County Congressional representative. Of course, only Cambridge residents should decide whether that solution is best for Cambridge. Second, the northern Congressional District border is pushed north of Watertown, which means more of the watershed providing water to Jefferson County comes under our own Congressional representative's purview. In summary, the choice of this map versus the map above is quite dramatic for both Watertown voters and Cambridge voters from Jefferson County.
Map: Prairie Congressional Districts Revised
Notable Features: This map began with the Praire Cafe map submission above and revised the map to utilize more county borders as well as other minor adjustments. Population deviation rose from .06% to .11% with the revision.
Mapping Details: Thanks to the Prairie Cafe Team, this Congressional Districts map begins from a good foundation-- https://portal.wisconsin-mapping.org/submission/p192 --Margaret and team achieved an excellent population balance, compact districts and support for minorities in Milwaukee County. My one concern was the number of whole counties disrupted to achieve the great results. This map is an attempt to achieve similar results, but reduce the number of whole counties distrupted. In addition, great attention was paid to county border communities in order to keep them whole. Finally, the number of municipality borders disrupted has also been kept to a minimum. Some attention was also paid to maintaining school districts, but most of those issues will need to be resolved by neighboring counties and neighboring townships.
Other comments on map above:
Comment from Susan: I am supporting this state map to have the PMC look at the criteria used as a model plan. For this map, I note that my COI, Whitewater is rejoined with continuous representation to both the city and lake area. In addition, I note that other areas of the state are joined into larger COI all within their normal living situations; i.e. Franklin & Oak Creek, Brookfield & Pewaukee, Port Wing & all of Northern WI, WI Rapids & Eau Claire, etc. This map has also taken into consideration the shared water tables which are paramount to each COI and legislative representation. Keeping the large rural areas together and within the county boundaries is also paramount to the agricultural communities and COI. The author of this map has taken into account the racial balance and as a side effect, keeps a balance between GOP and Dems. The CD boundaries are compact without the current gouging with twists and turns to achieve the current imbalance across this state. This map meets all of my COI criteria and wishes for the new fair mapping going forward
Comment from Anita: Congressional Plan meets all mapping criteria and results in fair maps across the state districts. It also keeps communities intact with the exception of Madison and Milwaukee. This map also serves to respect of other key criteria such as watershed areas, primary shopping/services areas, as well as commonality of community interests. Compared to the current severely gerrymandered maps put in place in 2012, these congressional districts accomplish key objectives to achieve fair maps in Wisconsin.
Map: County-preserving CD Maps
The methodology behind creating these eight congressional districts was as follows. CD 1, Congressional District 1 (this is the Districtr numbering), starts in the very southeast corner of the state, preserving Kenosha and Racine Counties, moving westward through Walworth County up to and including Rock County; finally that same congressional district then goes north up the Rock River into Jefferson County.
In creating a CD, the choice of blocks to color is determined by the following priority ranking:
1. Preserving county lines as far as possible in keeping close to the target CD population; if a county needs to be split, go to the next level 2.
2. Preserving school district lines as long as possible in keeping close to the target CD population; if a school district needs to be split, keep, if possible, the main municipality associated with the to-be-split school district in the CD being created.
There was no consideration of partisan evaluation made in this process. The most ‘natural’ CD created, CD 1, ended up being one of the more ‘competitive’ districts (with CDs 7 and 8).
This ‘more natural’ CD 1 containing Rock County would go up the Rock River so that it includes Jefferson County following the Rock River upstream. The valley of the Rock River has shallow sand and gravel wells, distributed throughout the basin. Most of these wells are shallower and the majority are domestic with the exception of high capacity wells in the alluvial deposits in Rock County. The shallow wells are susceptible to contamination. Many subdivisions have histories of nitrate and other human-caused contamination. There are also 4 pipelines traversing the CD 1, two carrying tar sands from Canada, going under the Rock River near Fort Atkinson. Lake Koshkonong, a large relatively shallow lake, is just downstream, with surrounding wetlands. Fort Atkinson, Janesville, and Beloit are cities that would be affected by an oil spill by these pipelines. This congressional district is united by its concern for ecological health in the area.
Mapping Details: I like both the methodology used in creating this map and the resulting compact congressional districts and support for school districts. If I were to apply the methodology used to create a State Senate Map in p1057 "Wisconsin State Senate Districts Template," I would place the "33rd State Senate District" over the confluence point of three congressional districts. This would lead to the least change in congressional district borders. In this map, two locations qualify: the confluence near Wisconsin Dells; or the confluence near Horicon Marsh.
Map: Compact Congressional Districts
Notable Features: These district lines respect county lines as best as possible and keeps communities of interests together including school districts, major watersheds, and journalism media markets.
3. WI State Senate Districts Proposals
Note: In Wisconsin, there are currently eight Federal House Representatives elected from the eight Wisconsin Congressional Districts. At the same time there are thirty-three Wisconsin State Senators. In an ideal "chain-of-public-representation" that extends from an individual voter through a series of elected officials within Wisconsin to the Federal government in Washington, D.C., there would be four State Senators that all coordinate with a single Federal House Representative. The best that we could theoretically do now for the individual voter is to keep four State Senate districts intact within each Congressional district and then have the remaining State Senator coordinate with all eight Federal Representatives. Of course, many compromises need to be made during redistricting decisions, but recognizing this goal, efficient "chain-of-public-representation" as a "best practice in redistricting" is still a good idea.
However, Wisconsin law makes no mention of this goal. The only Wisconsin requirement is to keep three intact State Assembly districts within each State Senate districts.
With these thoughts in mind, comments on the following State Senate and State Assembly maps will make more sense.
Map: SouthCentral Senate Maps
Notable Features: Maps all of Jefferson, Green, Rock and Walworth Counties as well as portions of Dane, Dodge, Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha Counties. Includes mapping methodology discussion: This State Senate Map Methodology demonstrates how to take a WI Congressional District and preserve the majority of the existing boundaries when subdividing it into State Senate Districts. This map duplicates the SouthCentral Congresssional District from plan ID p291 "Prairie Congressional Districts Revised." This methodology also references plan ID p76 "WI Senate Districts Methodology." As in p76, a State Senate District was created centered on the WI State Capitol in Madison. This new Madison District in the west portion of the Congressional District "pushed" the "borders" of the remaining four new Senate Districts to the east, in the region of Oconomowoc to New Berlin. In this region, 1/6 of a Senate District population was removed from each of the three eastern Congressional Districts described in plan ID p291. The next step will be to create four State Senate districts in each of these remaining eastern Congressional Districts. In the final State Senate Methology discussion, the four western Congressional Districts described in p291 will be converted into State Senate Districts using the same Methodology.
Comment on map above from Susan: The author of this State Senate Districts map has considered most of my criteria building a map that is comprehensive and inclusive. This map keeps all my COI concerns intact; Whitewater City and Lake Area are together, considering the water shed being kept together, voting balance and racial balance all are considered. I feel it is of paramount importance to have my representation in this compact areas without the gouging and twists and turns I currently encounter with my representation. In this map, I have all my COI concerns fully met and I applaud this author for being so considerate of each community across this state. I want the PMC to consider this map as a template to build the future State Senate new map.
Comment on map above from Anita: State Senate District map coincides with maps submitted under Prairie Congressional Districts. Respect for keeping communities intact, consolidating interest areas such as water sheds, municipality boundaries, etc. were honored. These maps are balanced for population and other guidelines for creating fair maps.
4. WI State Assembly Districts Proposals
Map: Lake Mills economic zone
Notable features: This map is a proposed State Assembly District map that centers on Lake Mills. These are communities where there are common connections of shopping, businesses and recreation.
Mapping Details: On the left, both County and Municipal borders are illustrated. Note how both Watertown and Cambridge are split by Jefferson County borders. On the right, note how the Lake Mills school district reaches almost to Watertown. Note also that school district borders do not match up with the voting wards colored in blue.
Map: Three State Assembly Districts
Notable Features: This map illustrates two alternatives of my preferred WI State Assembly District (colored yellow), which along with two other Assembly Districts (colored two shades of green), is located within my preferred WI State Senate District, which in turn is located within my preferred WI Congressional District (approximate - colored blue). The alternative on the right below unifies the Whitewater Lake Community of Interest by joining the Towns of Whitewater and Richmond. My preferred State Senate District is taken from the "WI State Senate Districts Template" (plan ID p1057), which was created from several previous methodology maps (see plan ID p1057). My preferred State Senate District follows the course of the Rock River from the City of Jefferson to the Illinois State Line.
Comments: Janesville has slightly too much population to be wholely contained within an assembly district.