Mayor Barrett considers appealing U.S. Census data after city records lowest population growth since 1930

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is considering appealing the new U.S. Census data after the city recorded its lowest population growth in nearly a century.

Less than 24 hours after the results were released, Barrett said he may file an appeal after the city of Milwaukee recorded it lost about 17,000 people over the last decade.

"We went through this a decade ago where we felt the numbers were too low and we had a successful appeal, so we're examining that right now," said Barrett. "Because a lot of this count took place during the pandemic, I think that made it a challenging time to count."

Wisconsin's overall population grew by nearly 4% to about 5.9 million residents. A majority of the growth occurred in Madison, by 15%, adding more than 73,000 people.

The numbers kick off the redistricting battle to redraw legislative and congressional maps. The concern for Milwaukee is the shift could result in the heavily Democratic district to shrink.

The Fair Election Project is one of several groups who are advocating for a fair map-making process. It’s a movement that comes after many Democrats argued for years the maps drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2010 give their party an unfair advantage in elections.

"What we think should happen is the Legislature should draw maps, they should draw them in a fair and transparent process and do it in a way with a fair result," said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he was optimistic lawmakers would put forth a map that Governor Tony Evers would sign.

Republicans also launched a new website for the public to submit their input on the maps starting Sept. 1.

"Soon we will begin the robust map drawing process and I’m confident we will draw a map that the governor will sign," Vos said in a statement.

Chedda said he remains hopeful Speaker Vos will listen to the public's input during the redistricting process.

"He's at least articulating the values that the vast majority of Wisconsinites want, which is a map that is a compromise between the parties," said Chedda.

Republicans and Democrats may not reach a compromise on new district lines, as Gov. Evers has asked lawmakers to consider maps being drawn by a redistricting commission he put together.

Republican leaders could reject the commission's plans and instead draw them on their own. If so, the Legislature would vote on the plan, but Evers has the power to veto the maps, which then leaves it up to the courts to decide.

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