Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1-866-OUR-VOTE (Election Protection)/Big Open Records Win for CMD and Common Cause/More

Reform Update
October 31, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

Happy Halloween!

  1. Statewide Toll Free Number for Election Information/Protection
  2. Five Wisconsin Legislators Must Surrender All ALEC-Related E-Mails for Public Inspection
  3. Reform Forums in Green Bay and La Crosse Bring Many Citizens Together With Legislators and Activists

1. As many as three million Wisconsinites or more are expected to vote next Tuesday -- November 6th -- in the historic election for President, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and for the Wisconsin Legislature. Passions and emotions about these elections may run high and so too may the temptation for some to harass, intimidate, or try to discourage some voters from participating in this most basic and sacred act of citizenship. Fortunately, there is a place voters can turn if they have any questions about voting or if they encounter any problems at the polls. Common Cause in Wisconsin is partnering with the nation’s largest nonpartisan Voter Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and we are here to help. Election Protection wants to ensure that voters are equipped with the information needed when they head to the polls, and we expect continued confusion over whether or not Wisconsin voters will be required to present government-issue photo identification. Although the requirement was signed into law last year, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ordered a permanent injunction on the law on March 6, 2012 which halted implementation of the ID requirement. Wisconsin voters WILL NOT be required to present photo ID in order to vote a regular ballot. If you arrive at the polls and are asked to show photo ID, you can call call1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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 now and will be staffed live from 9AM– 8PM CST on Election Day. Spanish-speaking voters may seek assistance through the 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) hotline.

Yesterday, five Wisconsin state legislators agreed to turn over any and all correspondence and documents related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and held on their personal email accounts. The action settles a lawsuit brought by the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause, and is a significant victory for the citizens of Wisconsin and their ability to inspect all public records, including the personal e-mail of legislators and staff with respect to public policy. The Wisconsin Attorney General’s office will conduct the agreed-upon document search. For more on this huge victory for transparency, go here.

3. On October 15th in Green Bay and then again, on October 22nd in La Crosse -- citizens, legislators, and reform activists (and opponents) gathered to learn about, discuss, debate and attempt to come to some consensus over what steps should be taken to clean up Wisconsin politics and bring back "good government" to our state, which was once the national model for honest, clean and accountable state government. No longer. But through the more than 30 "Reform Forums" Common Cause in Wisconsin has organized all over the state during the past several years, more and more Wisconsinites are demonstrating concern and then demanding real achieveable political reform of the corrupt status quo.
In Green Bay, more than 125 citizens gathered to interact with panelists State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), UW-Green Bay Professor Mike Kraft, CC/WI Board Member and Door County Broadcaster Roger Utnehmer and CC/WI Director Jay Heck. State Senator Rob Cowles and State Representatives Chad Weininger (R-Green Bay), John Klenke (R-Green Bay) and Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) were all invited to be panelists but declined.

In La Crosse a week later, citizens and UW-La Crosse students interacted with panelists State Representatives Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska, CC/WI Board Member and former Republican Sate Representative David Martin and Jay Heck. State Senator Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse), former State Senator Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), and State Representative Lee Nerison (R-Westby) were all invited to be panelists but declined.

At both forums, a consensus developed about two effective political reforms, both with bipartisan support, that could be introduced, passed and signed into law in relatively short order in early 2013: redistricting reform and the disclosure of the donors of the many outside spending groups who are spending millions of dollars of special interest money for mainly negative TV and radio ads and who have managed to escape having to tell Wisconsin voters who provides the money for these obnoxious communications. Last year CC/WI took the major role in developing legislation that would reform the current partisan secretive redistricting process and in forcing disclosure of outside election-oriented communications. Both measures had bipartisan support and CC/WI was the only reform organization to actually develop and have introduced into the Wisconsin Legislature, political reform measures. 

Both are ready for introduction and action in early 2013. For a news account of the Green Bay forum, go here.

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

1 comment:

Richard Warner said...

This is a good record for voting in the history of Wisconsin. Voters should carry their photo ID during election but here in Wisconsin people do not carry their IDs then how the Wisconsin public records are managed.