The Republican state legislators' redistricting plan -- released last week to accusations of "gerrymandering" -- could pose headaches for local municipalities, which have been working on the redistricting process for months.
"This is a drastic change that's going to be a great inconvenience to municipalities," says Dane County Supv. John Hendrick, who was involved with redistricting in 1990, 2000 and this year. "It may create contradictions that municipalities can't resolve."
In Wisconsin, redistricting traditionally starts at the local level, with counties creating supervisor districts and then municipalities creating wards. The wards are given to the state Legislature, which creates legislative districts out of them.
Municipalities were due to adopt new wards by August, with aldermanic and supervisor districts due in October. The Legislature had until April 2012 to adopt its districts.
The Republican leadership, in proposing a new map, jumped 10 months ahead in the process.
"We're basically three weeks away from adopting our plan," says city planner Brian Grady, who is overseeing Madison's redistricting. "It comes in at the tail end of the process."
Grady says the Republican plan won't cause major problems for Madison, though "any change is going to be a detrimental change." The city will likely have to create six new wards to accommodate the Republican plan. Some of those wards may have to be smaller than the current minimum of 1,000 residents (a deviation Grady thinks the Republican plan will allow).
Smaller wards complicate elections, forcing two wards to vote in the same polling place. Grady says that the poll workers need to be a lot more careful to make sure people are getting the right ballots.