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Rock County Board Discusses Redistricting

The Rock County Board heard a presentation and voted on its new district maps at last week's meeting.

Municipalities work with the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to provide input, and the committee was designed with people who know the election process in mind and now the technologies. Legal precedence was mentioned, as preventing gerrymandering and the limitation of minorities was a concern. Gerrymandering doesn't apply in this case because you cannot have a majority on the county board, but there is an appearance of gerrymandering in the maps. An idea to use incumbent addresses was not supported by both the committee and by survey. When the maps were being drawn, the 2020 Census data was being used as the best starting point.

There was a 2.31% increase in population in Rock County, but most of the growth was in Janesville, Evansville, Edgerton and Milton. The population of the last three communities was substantial enough to build up districts for their counties. Beloit and Town of Rock saw a decrease in population. There is growth that is well beyond the necessary 10% deviation in the county's northeast corner (10% is the necessary deviation). The population loss means the supervisory districts will need to be sorted out elsewhere to get to 10% deviation. In 2011 there was a lot of crossover from Janesville and the other districts. Municipalities with populations under 1000 do not need to create wards, but all other municipalities do, needing 300-1000 people per ward. Beloit was used as an example, with between 600-1200 people.

After further discussion, the board was told that if the plan is adopted they could follow the timeline, but if they do not, it could take a couple of weeks to create a new map. The dates and population won't change. During the 20 year trends, there is consistent growth in Janesville and the northern municipalities and consistent losses in the more rural places of the county. Planning told the board that if the maps are not approved, they would need direction, in terms of what would be sacrificed.

After a debate, a question was made to end the debate. The board voted 14-9 to postpone the debate. The board would need 60 days to approve the map. The debate raged on, with one supervisor saying they cannot adjourn without giving the committee direction. A motion was made to draw a map. Supervisor members determined that the group likely wouldn't come to a unanimous agreement. The debate continued, centering around what to get rid of. The lengthy debate ended around 4 and a half hours into the meeting. A motion was made to swap the positions on the map to priority order and to draw an additional map replacing compactness with incumbency addresses. The results of the vote were not announced.

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