Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit that asks a federal court to draw the state's electoral maps.
Evers, with Attorney General Josh Kaul, filed a motion on Monday arguing that because state law recognizes a joint role for both the governor and the Legislature in the redistricting process, the governor should be allowed to intervene in related litigation.
The Republican-led state Legislature has already been allowed to intervene in the suit, and has asked for it to be dismissed. Evers argues that the work done by his People's Maps Commission — designed to be a nonpartisan redistricting entity — is relevant to the court's decisions.
"I never thought I would be spending a lot of my time as governor protecting our democracy, but it’s clear that with continued attacks on the right to vote, misinformation around the 2020 election, and efforts to gerrymander our maps, this work has never been more important," Evers said in a statement. "I will continue to fight every day to protect the right of every eligible voter to cast their ballot, to ensure we have fair, free, and secure elections, and to have fair maps in Wisconsin."
According to the motion filed Monday, Evers plans to focus his involvement in the case on the maps the court would draw, "providing the Court with a useful, nonpartisan map (from the People's Maps Commission) to consider."
The lawsuit, filed last month by national Democratic attorney Marc Elias, is one of several seeking to put the redistricting process in the hands of a court. Last month, a conservative law firm asked the state Supreme Court to declare the state's current maps unconstitutional and take over the boundary-drawing process. Another progressive law firm has also asked a federal court to draw the maps.
All of the lawsuits rely on the prediction that the Legislature and Evers — known more for their impasses than their agreements — will not be able to reach consensus on new maps.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said last month that he is "confident (legislators) will draw a map that the governor will sign."
Vos encouraged people to visit a new website to offer feedback on the process. Wisconsin residents can submit "a statewide map, regional plan, or community of interest" through Oct. 15 on the "Draw Your District" site.
At the same time, Evers has pushed for a redistricting process that is "fair and free from partisan bias," as established in guidelines issued by the People's Maps Commission.
Evers has the authority to veto any map the Legislature gives him.
The 2011 maps have made Wisconsin one of the most gerrymandered states in the country — but attempts to challenge them ultimately failed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that electoral maps should be assessed by state courts.
The 2011 redistricting process was unusual in that one party had control of state government. Government was divided in the four redistricting processes prior to that, and because the parties did not agree, it was up to a federal court to draw the maps.