Coming soon? Fairer districts

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Divided government should produce different results for redistricting.

THERE ARE LOTS of conclusions that can be drawn from the Nov. 6 election results in Wisconsin, and here's a big one.

Gerrymandering is still raising some pretty obvious questions about voting patterns.

Democrat candidates - mostly by narrow margins - won every statewide race. Tony Evers edged Scott Walker for governor. Josh Kaul squeaked by Brad Schimel for attorney general. Sarah Godlewski was elected treasurer and Doug La Follette as secretary of state. Tammy Baldwin did not have a tight race, easily out-polling Leah Vukmir for U.S. Senate.

All that suggests Wisconsin is more or less evenly split from a partisan perspective, border-to-border.

Meanwhile, though, in legislative elections that rely on partisan-drawn district lines, Republicans retained - and, in the State Senate, expanded - lopsided majorities. The Assembly is 63-35 Republican; the Senate, 19-14. Simple arithmetic makes that result a head-scratcher, when Democrats sweep elections that are not dependent on partisan-drawn lines while Republicans sit at nearly two-thirds of the legislative seats.

POLLS ALL OVER America show voters are not pleased with politicians - and both parties do it, whenever they have a majority - rigging election lines. Yet in most cases reform is out of reach because the politicians themselves would have to do it. Think about that. When the choice is between fair play or risking one's seat, fair play loses every time.

Previously, Wisconsin's only hope for redistricting reform was a federal lawsuit that has stalled.

Now, when Gov.-elect Tony Evers is sworn in Wisconsin will have divided government. Republicans will still have big advantages in the legislature and can try to draw rigged lines again after the 2020 census. But Evers will be in office then with veto power if he decides the lines won't work. The majority does not have enough seats to override a veto.

So, either Republicans and Democrats work together to draw lines acceptable to both sides, or the job will go to the courts - which, in these hyper-partisan times, may be the best option anyway.

The good news: Fairer legislative district boundaries should be coming after 2020.

A FINAL WORD: In the first hours after it became apparent Evers had won, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos made sure prospects were dim for conciliation between the parties. Vos warned Evers not to "poke Republicans in the eye" by trying to change things, and said he wanted a lame-duck legislative session before Walker departs to consider a "rebalance" of executive authority. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald later chimed in and joined the chorus. We remind the legislative leaders that disrespecting the new governor's responsibilities and authorities means disrespecting the state's voters who made him their choice. We also would call on Governor Walker to reject such partisan manipulation, to protect not only the office but his own integrity and legacy as well.

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