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Courts cases related to redistricting are still pending based on maps in some states including Wisconsin, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, and Georgia, leaving the issue up in the air heading into the 2018 election cycle.

When a court strikes down an electoral map, the court generally provides the respective legislature and governor with an opportunity to pass a new map into law. If, however, the legislative process fails or if there is insufficient time to act, courts may order the election to occur based on a remedial map drawn by the courts. This occurred very recently in Pennsylvania in the case League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislature and governor failed to agree on a new map (i.e. failed to sign a new map into law); therefore, the court drew its own map. Elections experts have praised the maps drawn by the courts as more competitive and more fair. Republicans in Pennsylvania are likely to lose three or more seats under these maps, and therefore, have threatened to remove the justices from office asserting they have engaged in impeachable offenses by “overriding the express legislative and executive authority” to pass laws.

In Wisconsin, we are still waiting for the United States Supreme Court to decide its first partisan gerrymandering case in well over a decade. It is expected that the high court will decide Gill v. Whitford in the next few months. If the high court strikes down the maps passed in 2011 – which have been in place for many election cycles already    it will be incumbent upon the governor and the Wisconsin Legislature to quickly redraw the maps before they are redrawn by the courts.

This election cycle is critical both in Wisconsin and nationwide, because it will begin to determine what the next 10 years will look like for these maps, which will be redrawn following the 2020 census. The Supreme Court’s decision to redraw the maps would undoubtedly have an impact on the 2018 elections in Wisconsin, but the exact impact will likely depend on who redraws the maps: the current Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature or the courts.

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