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Group of Democrats suing state election officials over election maps GOP drew in 2011

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MADISON, Wisconsin — A group of Democrats is asking a federal court to throw out Wisconsin's legislative Assembly district map, claiming the 2011 lines were drawn to the advantage of Republicans and therefore are unconstitutional.

Twelve plaintiffs filed the complaint Wednesday, calling the redistricting map "partisan gerrymandering" at its worst.

"In the end, a political minority is able to rule the majority and to entrench itself in power by periodically manipulating election boundaries," the complaint said. The state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections, is named as the defendant.

"My rights as a voter are being violated," said retired university professor Bill Whitford, one of the plaintiffs. "If my vote counted as much as each one of my fellow citizens, I would be able to affect the shape of the Legislature. But I can't, because they've decided through these maps that I simply don't count."

Two years ago, a panel of federal judges redrew two state Assembly districts, saying they violated the voting rights of Latinos on Milwaukee's south side. The judges left in place other districts, which allowed Republicans to hold on to their advantage in elections.

States must redraw legislative and congressional districts every 10 years to account for population shifts. Republicans currently control the Assembly 63-36 and the Senate 19-14.

Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, said past redistricting practices and tactics have resulted in unequal voting power among citizens.

"No plan is insulated entirely from partisan bias, but elected officials and the courts have an obligation to ensure that the public good is not sacrificed to the self-interest of political parties. Such practices alienate voters and weaken democracy," Ahmuty said.

A representative of the accountability board said Wednesday that the board hadn't been served with the lawsuit and had no comment. A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin attorney general's office, which would defend the board in court, said the office also hadn't received the complaint.

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