Wisconsin State Capitol, Dane County

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Only One in Ten State Legislative Districts Can be Considered Even Remotely Competitive for November




For Release: Tuesday - May 10, 2016

Just One in Ten State Legislative Districts in Wisconsin
are Competitive for the 2016 General Election
Dramatic Decrease From 2010 as a Result of Gerrymandering

The number of Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate legislative districts in 2016 that can be considered even remotely competitive this November is just 10 percent of the total – one of the fewest number of competitive state legislative districts on record – according to election data compiled by Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI). The figures are based on Assembly general election vote percentages in 2014 and on State Senate general election vote percentages in 2012. Assembly elections are every two years, State Senate elections are every four years.

Just ten of 99 State Assembly seats in 2014 and only two of 16 State Senate seats in 2012 experienced general elections in which the margin of victory was ten points or less (55% to 45% or closer – considered by political scientists to be within a “competitive” range). The total number of competitive legislative districts for the Wisconsin Legislature is 12 of 115 (99 Assembly and 16 State Senate seats) or just 10.4 percent for the upcoming November 8th election.

By contrast, during the 2010 elections – which occurred before the 2011 redistricting process that was rammed through the Legislature and signed into law in July 2011 – there were 21 competitive elections (of 99) in the Assembly and 6 of 16 in the State Senate, or 27 of 116 total (23.3 percent) in the November 2010 elections.

The 2011 redistricting process is widely considered to be the most partisan, secretive and expensive (to Wisconsin taxpayers) in Wisconsin’s history. The number of competitive Assembly and State Senate legislative districts in 2016, after that process, compared with the corresponding numbers in the 2010 election (before the gerrymandering) demonstrates that the 2011 redistricting process resulted in far fewer competitive state legislative elections in which voters had a real choice in the general election.

During the 2010 general election less than a quarter (23.3 percent) of all Wisconsin legislative seats were considered competitive, which was disgraceful. But the partisan 2011 redistricting process made it far worse. In 2012, competitive elections fell to under 15 percent of the total (14.8%) and in 2014 it dropped to just over 10 percent (10.3%).

Democracy is in serious trouble when only one in ten Wisconsinites has an opportunity to vote in an election in which they have a serious choice for the Wisconsin Legislature in the general election.

Longtime Common Cause in Wisconsin State Governing Board Member Dave Martin makes a compelling case in the Wisconsin State Journal about why Republicans and Democrats should end hyper-partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and adopt Iowa's non-partisan fair voting maps process for 2021. Dave is a former Republican State Representative from Neenah and GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.

This is not a partisan issue.

It is all about making our elected officials responsive to we, the people.

Please go here to sign (if you have not yet done so) our petition to Wisconsin legislators demanding they support the "Iowa Plan" redistricting reform legislation that will be introduced in the next session of the Legislature. If you have already signed, please encourage others to do so! Our goal is 5,000 signatures and we have almost 1,500 so far. Thanks!





CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Breathing New Life into Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform/Ending Partisan Gerrymandering




For Release: Tuesday - April 26, 2016

Breathing New Life into Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform/Ending Partisan Gerrymandering

Finally – A Public Hearing, A Promising Lawsuit and Action Citizens Can Take

For three years, from 2012 through 2014, non-partisan redistricting reform was the "hottest' political reform issue in Wisconsin, with meetings and forums about the subject all over the state (CC/WI organized nearly 20 alone), support and frequent editorials from virtually every Wisconsin's daily newspaper (21) and thousands of calls and messages pouring into the Capitol to legislators demanding that they end partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional districts.

But Republican legislative leaders, chiefly Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), jealously guarded their command of redistricting because of the enormous political power they possess. Consequently, they allowed virtually no Republican legislators to publicly support non-partisan redistricting reform and they refused to allow the scheduling of even a public hearing on legislation that would establish a non-partisan process, such as the one that has worked so well in Iowa since 1980.

During 2015, Vos and Fitzgerald shifted their attention to expanding their power, such as destroying the non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, transforming Wisconsin's campaign finance law into among the worst, least regulated and least transparent in the nation, and to exempting politicians from effective investigation and prosecution from political corruption. Consequently, good government reform groups such as CC/WI had to shift their emphasis and focus from educating the public about anti-gerrymandering and instead, deploy all of our energy and resources towards fighting those new battles and trying to mitigate the damage caused by the GOP offensive to turn Wisconsin into a one-party state that they could completely control, long into the future.

But we have kept non-partisan redistricting reform a "live" issue and have continued to work with newspaper editorial boards to continue to try to elevate the issue, particularly when non-partisan redistricting reform legislation, based on Iowa's system, was introduced during 2015: Senate Bill 58 and Assembly Bill 328.

Finally, our "badgering" showed at least some fruit when State Rep. Kathleen Bernier (R-Lake Halle), the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, finally scheduled an "information only" public hearing in the Capitol earlier this month on non-partisan redistricting reform after a number of editorials citing CC/WI such as this one in the Wisconsin State Journal. CC/WI Director Jay Heck was one of the eight individuals that were asked to testify at the hearing. You can see/listen to the entire hearing on Wisconsin Eye here (Jay's testimony begins at 1:56). While the hearing will not advance actual legislation, because the Legislature has adjourned for the session, the precedent for having a "sanctioned" public hearing on the issue has finally been set after five years of not allowing even that.

Meanwhile, on the legal front and also earlier this month, there was a very encouraging development in the battle against the extremely partisan, secretive, expensive (to taxpayers) and utterly undemocratic GOP gerrymander of Wisconsin's state legislative districts in 2011. Many legal experts give this case a very good chance of reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. Reformers are making progress on this issue.

You can help us advance this issue too! Make sure that you ask all state legislative and congressional candidates about their position on non-partisan redistricting reform (specifically the "Iowa Model") during this long election season that will lead to November 8th – Election Day.

And please sign this petition, if you haven't already done so, that we will send to the Wisconsin Legislature after November 8th to demand action on non-partisan redistricting reform. If you have already signed the petition, please direct others to the site and urge them to sign it.

Finally, CC/WI Director Jay Heck is helping to "kick off" this renewed push to end partisan gerrymandering and establish non-partisan redistricting reform in Wisconsin before 2021, by addressing the Wisconsin Council of Churches Board of Directors today in Sun Prairie. As is the case with almost every other political reform issue such as voting rights, campaign finance reform, transparency and ethical laws and governance – fair voting maps through the enactment into law of non-partisan redistricting reform is a deeply moral issue for a healthy and vibrant democracy.

Please do your part to make it a reality!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Walker & WISDOT Never Even Considered Establishing a Mobile Van Program to Help Get Required Voter ID to Underserved Rural & Urban Communities




For Release: Tuesday - April 19, 2016

Walker & WISDOT Never Even Considered Establishing a Mobile Van Program to Bring Required Photo ID to Eligible Voters in Underserved Communities

Some Former Confederate States Make it Easier to Obtain Required
Photo ID to Vote Than Does Wisconsin

In June of 2015, CC/WI and 12 other state and national public interest organizations sent this letter to Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) Secretary Mark Gottlieb requesting the establishment of a mobile Division of Motor Vehicles program comprised of vehicles that visit under-served communities throughout the state to distribute DOT-issued photo ID – two of the various forms of ID now required in order to cast a ballot that will be counted in Wisconsin elections.

The letter was never acknowledged and a follow-up phone inquiry on February 1, 2016 also never received a response, despite assurances that we would receive one.

On March 3, 2016, CC/WI sent this letter to Governor Scott Walker, requesting that he rectify this situation that his own Department of Transportation has completely ignored. We had hoped to receive his affirmative response in short order as there had only been a little more than four weeks until the April 5th Spring election. On March 25th, we received this response from WISDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb, which had obviously been forwarded to him from the Governor's office. In it, Gottlieb talks a lot about how his agency has responded to increasing demands for DOT-issued ID's, but there is no mention whatsoever about our repeated inquiry into the establishment of mobile vans or some kind of program to bring the required photo ID to underserved rural and urban communities!

In other words, the Walker Administration apparently has not now, nor has it ever – since voter ID was enacted into law five years ago – had any plans to make these required forms of ID needed to vote, easier to procure by setting up a mobile program as other states with a similar photo ID law have done. This, coupled with a lack of any state funding for a public information campaign to inform Wisconsinites of what they need to have in order to cast a vote at the polls (or by absentee ballot) that will be counted, make it difficult to conclude anything other than that Governor Walker, Secretary Gottlieb and the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature are engaged in a widespread, coordinated, systematic campaign to deny thousands of eligible Wisconsinites of voting age, the information or ability to get what they are now required to obtain in order to vote.

Let's not hear any more nonsense from them that this is not voter suppression. Wisconsinites are not fools.

What Walker and the GOP have been doing since 2011 through 2016 is exactly what constitutes voter suppression. They are making it more difficult for the elderly, rural voters, urban voters, college students and people of color to be able to vote. It is degrading, disgusting and disgraceful that states that were once part of the Old Confederacy – and have a long history of voter suppression such as Alabama, Texas and Virginia – have made it easier for their citizens to obtain required forms of ID than has Wisconsin. Every Wisconsinite should be ashamed and outraged by this blatant attempt to decrease voter turnout, which has been amongst the highest in the nation.

The very best way to counter these anti-democratic measures is to make sure that you have what is required in order for you, your family, friends, neighbors and everyone else to have their votes counted in the upcoming August primary and November general elections. Go here to get that vital information and share it widely!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

TODAY is Election Day in Wisconsin - Vital Information You Need to Know and Share




For Release: Tuesday - April 5, 2016


Don't miss this opportunity to make your voice heard – go to your polling place and vote!

Polling places throughout Wisconsin areopen today from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

If you are unsure of the location of your polling place, go to MyVote.WI.gov, select "Regular Voter," enter your name and date of birth, and then click "Where Do I Vote" in the left sidebar.

Remember – even if you are already registered to vote – in order for your vote to be counted, you must present one of the forms of photo identification pictured left.

Many college students already have the ID they need to cast a ballot (e.g., a WI driver license or a passport). Those students who do not have one of the other acceptable IDs for voting can look up their college/university on the appropriate list linked below to see if their institution's student ID can be used as a voter ID or if their school offers a special photo ID card for voting and how to get it:

University of Wisconsin – 4-Year Schools

University of Wisconsin – 2-Year Schools

Wisconsin Private Universities & Colleges

Wisconsin Technical Colleges


If you are registered to vote but do not have, or cannot find one of the required forms of ID for voting, you can cast a "provisional ballot." However, your provisional ballot will only be counted if you either return to the polling place with an acceptable photo ID before the polls close at 8:00 PM today OR you present one of the required forms of photo ID to your municipal clerk by 4:00 PM on Friday, April 8th.

If you are not sure where your municipal clerk's office is, visit MyVote.WI.gov, select "Regular Voter," choose "Address Search" in the left sidebar, and then enter your address. Remember, if you have lived at your current address for less than 28 days before the election, you must vote at the polling place for your previous address.

What if you're not already registered to vote? You can register at your polling place today when you go to vote. Be sure to bring either the number and expiration date of your current and valid Wisconsin driver license or DOT-issued WI ID card OR (if you have not been issued a WI driver license/WI ID) the last four digits of your social security number. If you've been issued a WI driver license/WI ID card, but it is no longer valid, you should provide BOTH your WI driver license or WI ID number and the last four digits of your social security number. When registering to vote, you must ALSO provide a proof of residence document (this document can be shown electronically).

Examples of proof of residence documents can be found here.

Common Cause in Wisconsin is once again partnering with the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, to provide "guidance, information and help to any American, regardless of who that voter is casting a ballot for."

Election Protection’s highly-trained legal volunteers are available to assist voters with any questions or problems, no matter how simple or complex. Voters may call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll-free with any questions or issues that may arise. This English language hotline is available today and will be staffed live from 7:00 AM until the polls close at 8:00 PM. Spanish-speaking voters may seek assistance through the 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) hotline.

Please share this information with family and friends, and be sure to cast your ballot!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



Read More...