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James Beaudoin: Redistricting in Wisconsin

[audio:http://news.cals.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/james_beaudoin_redistricting_software.mp3|titles=James Beaudoin: Redistricting in Wisconsin]
Transcript:

Sevie Kenyon

Wisconsin Gears up for Redistricting: We’re visiting today with James Beaudoin, the Applied Population Laboratory, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison Wisconsin.  I’m Sevie Kenyon.  James, welcome to our microphone.  What is redistricting?

James Beaudoin

Redistricting is the process of revising the geographic boundaries within a state from which people elect their representatives to the US House of Representatives, state legislature, county and local officials and school boards. In Wisconsin, we start at the local level by creating county supervisor districts, and then municipal wards.

Sevie Kenyon

James, why are we doing this?

James Beaudoin

Well the Wisconsin constitution mandates legislative redistricting be done every decennial census. This is done to maintain the “one person, one vote.”  That is, districts must roughly equal population so that no one persons vote counts more than another persons.

Sevie Kenyon

And James, perhaps you can tell us how you are involved in this redistricting process.

James Beaudoin

Redistricting at the local level is a three step process. The first step requires the county to create a tentative supervisory plan. The second step is for the municipalities to create and adopt ward plans that comply with the tentative county supervisory plan.  And then the third step is the adoption of the county supervisory plan, along with cities creating automatic plans, if required. To assist these committees with this effort the Applied Population Laboratory and the legislature created a free, online tool called “WISE-LR.” WISE-LR makes it easy for non-GIS users to create supervisory, ward and aldermanic districts. The user can create several different plans to compare different plans or scenarios.  Plans can be shared with other officials to get their feedback and ideas.  The tool automatically saves their work on the fly, and when it comes to submitting those plans, it’s as easy as clicking a button.

Sevie Kenyon

James, can you tell us how this particular redistricting is different than the last time we did it.

James Beaudoin

In the previous application (we developed a desktop application very similar to what we created this time) The new application has no insulation, making it very portable.  With WISE-LR, plans can be shown at meetings and other gatherings with the simple use of a web browser.  Another advantage is since the data is housed at the legislature the user does not have to back up any data.

Sevie Kenyon

James, what comes next for this project?

James Beaudoin

So, in the beginning of April we’re traveling around the state doing training sessions on redistricting and how to use the software.  Users will get actual hands-on training so people can get used to the software.  As the redistricting process progresses there will be public hearings giving citizens the opportunity to react to local plans.  If you’d like more information you can go to the web and search “Wisconsin Redistricting” and that should get you to the state redistricting page.

Sevie Kenyon

We’ve been visiting with James Beaudoin, the Applied Population Laboratory, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison Wisconsin.  I’m Sevie Kenyon.