April 13, 2011
CONTACT:Jay Heck – 608/256-2686
PUBLIC FORUM AT CARTHAGE COLLEGE IN KENOSHA
TO TACKLE VITAL ELECTION REFORM ISSUES
Monday Evening, April 18th
6:30 - 8:00 PM
Jockey Room B
Carthage College - Todd Wehr Center
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI
Given the almost unbelieveable events following last Tuesday's election, a public forum on the future of Wisconsin elections could not be more timely.
Were all of the votes counted correctly in extremely close election between incumbent Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg? Should there be a statewide recount and/or an investigation of what happened in Waukesha County by the Government Accountability Board, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Waukesha County District Attorney? What does this huge blunder mean for citizen confidence in future Wisconsin elections?
And who should be able to vote in Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Legislature is right now on a fast track toward passing a measure 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 certain forms of identification can be used to vote - a drivers license (with a photo), a military ID or Native American tribal ID, naturalization papers, a valid passport, or a photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (which is free – but only if you request that it be free!).
No student I.D. would be accepted. 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, State 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. The April 5th State Supreme Court election was overwhelmed by undisclosed, outside (and out-of-Wisconsin) special interest money for ads on TV, radio, robo-calls, flyers and mailings.
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 Kenosha 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 Robert Wirch (D-Kenosha)
State Representative Peter Barca
Political Science Professor Jerald Mast of Carthage College
Republican Blogger & Former District Attorney of Rusk County Richard Ginkowski
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin
State Representatives Samantha Kerkman (R-Randall) and Robin Vos (R-Rochester) were both invited to participate but were unable to do so.
Carthage Political Science Professor Jonathan Marshall will serve as Moderator.
Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively discussion.
Full details can be found here.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703