As voters across Wisconsin headed to the polls Tuesday to vote in six state Senate recall elections, Republican Governor Scott Walker signed heavily-criticized legislation to redraw the state’s district boundaries, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Democrats claimed the new voting districts will give Republicans an advantage in the upcoming 2012 elections and had called on Walker to veto them.
“The Governor had an opportunity to exercise leadership here and by signing this heavily gerrymandered, highly partisan redistricting plan into law, he failed to lead,” Minority Democrat Assembly Leader Peter Barca said in a statement.
The state is required to redraw the voting districts every 10 years to account for population shifts. The Republican-led Wisconsin legislature approved the new district maps last month.
“It is now clear that Walker signed these redistricting maps into law in a manner intended to hide his actions with only one goal in mind: giving himself and his fellow Republicans a monopoly on power in our state and dodging accountability for their anti-middle-class extremism,” Barca added.
Federal judges in Milwaukee refused to take over the redistricting process in July, but a federal lawsuit alleging the new district boundaries are unconstitutional is still pending.
“The maps passed by the Legislature meet the objective criteria laid out by the courts including communities of interest, fair minority representation, and compact, contiguous districts,” Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a brief statement.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate accused Walker of trying to distract attention away from the state Senate recall elections by waiting until Tuesday to sign the redistricting legislation.
“We know that Scott Walker wants to change the conversation – but seeking out news coverage in the last hours of the historic movement to turn back his agenda, and doing so to discuss his radical redistricting plan, is as galling as it is tacky,” Tate said.