Civic engagement groups around the country, including in Wisconsin, are cheering Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
The court struck down Alabama’s congressional map, noting the gerrymandered boundaries diluted the voting power of Black residents. The outcome is reverberating in states where redistricting has been a thorny issue, Wisconsin among them.
Greg Lewis, executive director of Souls to the Polls Wisconsin, said the ruling gives credibility to arguments stating marginalized populations often lack a political voice because of the way voting districts are drawn.
“This ‘scorched earth’ politics, this ‘win at any cost’ must stop,” Lewis urged. “It has to be fair for everyone, not just a few.”
Those calling for fair maps in Wisconsin were already hopeful after April’s state Supreme Court race. The outcome saw liberals secure a majority among justices. Republicans, who have led redistricting efforts in Wisconsin, have long denied they rely on a skewed approach, arguing Democrats have made themselves unappealing to voters.
Lewis hopes the recent court activity especially gets the attention of Black voters who have felt alienated by the process.
“People say that, ‘Why should I vote? Because it doesn’t make a difference.’ And it has become a problem that has been keeping people suppressed from voting,” Lewis contended.
Past research from the University of Wisconsin has shown the state’s Voter ID law has had a negative effect on turnout among voters of color. Meanwhile, political scientists predict this week’s decision will change the trajectory of certain House races for the 2024 election.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
This story was written by Mike Moen, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.