By Dana Munro

The past few weeks we’ve shown you who you can vote for this election, but what you vote for, in the policy questions at the end of the ballot, are just as important. The Brown and Door County ballots ask “Should the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district maps?”

Voters in 11 counties and the city of Racine will see this question on the ballot. 17 counties have already passed similar referendums and 53 county boards have passed resolutions in favor of it. The referendum would combat gerrymandering — when the party in power draws districts based around what will give them the most legislative support.

This is done through two main tactics: cracking and packing. Cracking is when the map-maker divides up a partisan area and adds fractions of it to its own party’s districts, diluting the power of those areas. This is why some regions of the state that would normally be their own districts are split up and don’t get representatives in Congress or the State Legislature. Packing is putting as much of the opponent’s territories together as possible making one big district and giving those people less representation. This is why some large areas of the state that would normally be multiple districts are drawn as one big district. This gives an area that should have multiple representatives only one or two representatives according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

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