February 17, 2011
CONTACT:Jay Heck – 608/256-2686
PUBLIC FORUM AT UW-MADISON
TO TACKLE VITAL POLITICAL REFORM ISSUES
Monday Evening, February 21st at the UW Memorial Union
6:30 - 8:00 PM
4th Floor - "Class of 1924" Room
University of Wisconsin - Memorial Union
800 Langdon Street, Madison, WI
The Wisconsin Legislature is right now on a fast track toward passing a bill that would completely transform Wisconsin from one of the easiest states in the country in which to cast a ballot to one of the most difficult. Senate Bill 6 stipulates that the only forms of identification that can be used to vote are a drivers license (with a photo) or a photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (which is free – but only if you request that it be free!).
If passed and enacted into law in its current form, Senate Bill 6 would make Wisconsin the most restrictive state in the nation in which to vote -- more restrictive than Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. And, it would cost millions of dollars of scarce taxpayer money to implement. Is it worth it? Is it necessary?
Also this year, partisan legislative and Congressional leaders will draw new voting districts -- a process that happens just once every 10 years. Here in Wisconsin, this process is done behind closed doors, without public participation or input. Legislators spend millions of taxpayer dollars to pay expensive lawyers to help them “choose” their voters by creating partisan, uncompetitive districts. Is reforming Wisconsin’s current redistricting process necessary if we ever hope to have more competitive elections?
These and other campaign and election reform issues are more vital than ever as we deal with the continuing fallout of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission— a decision that, among other things, allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to run outside communications, providing these entities with far greater influence on the outcome of elections at both the federal and state levels. And Wisconsin has yet to enact into law legislation to require many of these outside groups to disclose who they are. Is this "free speech" or is it a perversion of democracy?
How will the Citizens United decision affect Wisconsin? How can we find out who is really behind those vicious attack ads? If Photo Voter ID is enacted into law, will it prevent voter fraud? Or will it disenfranchise students, urban dwellers, minority groups, the elderly and disabled -- and ultimately depress voter turnout in Wisconsin? And should redistricting be taken out of the hands of partisan legislators?
These important political reform issues will be the focus of discussion in Madison this coming Monday during a "Reform Forum" organized by CC/WI entitled:
"The Future of Wisconsin Elections:
the Pros and Cons of Reform"
the Pros and Cons of Reform"
Panelists will include:
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton)
Conservative Blogger and Journalist David Blaska
Political Science Professor David Canon of the UW-Madison
History Professor John Sharpless of the UW-Madison
Editorial Page Editor Scott Milfred of the Wisconsin State Journal
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin
UW Political Science Professor Barry Burden will serve as Moderator.
Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively debate.
Full details can be found here.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703