Monday, November 26, 2012

Redistricting Reform Emerging as Top Priority Political Reform for 2013


Press Release
November 26, 2012




CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



REDISTRICTING REFORM LEADS LIST OF POLITICAL REFORMS IN 2013


It won't happen again until 2021. But reform of the redistricting process needs to begin early in 2013 for it to be in place the next time state legislative and congressional districts are redrawn -- as they must be every ten years to reflect the population changes that emanate from the Census. The redistricting process in 2011 was one of the most partisan, secretive and expensive (to Wisconsin taxpayers) of any in Wisconsin's history. It produced fewer competitive state legislative and congressional districts than Wisconsin had prior to 2011 -- which were not all that many to begin with.

An analysis by Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) of the election results this past November 6th reveals that only one of the16 Wisconsin State Senate seats up for grabs was even remotely competitive. CC/WI defines "competitive" as an election in which the winning percentage of the vote was no larger than 55 and the losing percentage no less than 45. Only the 18th State Senate District met that criteria, in which Republican challenger Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac narrowly edged out incumbent Democratic State Senator Jessica King of Oshkosh by less than 600 votes. No other State Senate election was even remotely close. Republicans seized control of the State Senate 18 to 15 seats.

In the State Assembly, CC/WI found that only 14 of the 99 Assembly elections in 2012 fell into the "competitive" category, with Republicans winning 11 of those contests and Democrats, three. Republicans now hold 60 seats and Democrats, 39. Only one incumbent Member of the Assembly (and who was not forced to run against another incumbent) lost -- Republican Roger Rivard of Rice Lake. Obviously, the 2011 redistricting process left little choice for most Wisconsinites when it came to choosing state legislators. Most districts were utterly uncompetitive.

There were no incumbent losses among Wisconsin's eight Members of Congress and no remotely close elections. Every congressional district can now be considered uncompetitive and "safe" for the incumbents. No real choices for Wisconsin voters. As recently as 1998, there were five competitive congressional districts. Today there are none. Members of Congress and of the Wisconsin Legislature choose their voters. Voters now have virtually no say as to who represents them in Madison and in Washington, D.C.

But there is support building both in the Wisconsin Legislature and by citizens to reform this disgraceful state of affairs. During the 2011-2012 legislative session, CC/WI led the effort for redistricting reform and was the only state reform organization to have political reform legislation actually written and introduced -- including a measure to reform the redistricting process. We will be doing so again in early 2013.

Yesterday, the state's largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, issued this strong editorial in support of redistricting reform. Read it, please. Earlier, the state's second largest newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal, issued this strong editorial in support of redistricting reform.

And at the November 13th CC/WI State Governing Board meeting in Madison, State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) explained why redistricting reform is so badly needed and how he plans to work with State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) as well as with CC/WI to advance this reform in the months ahead. You can listen to and view his comments to the board and answers to our questions here.

We need your help, too.

Please contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and tell them that Redistricting Reform is a priority for you in 2013. And hold them to it. Here is how to contact your legislators. If you are not sure who your State Senator and/or State Representative is, go here.

At the November 13th meeting, CC/WI also voted to move forward with a number of other political reforms in addition to redistricting reform. Our reform priorities in 2013 include: disclosure of outside special interest electioneering contributions and spending; prohibiting all campaign fund raising by legislators and legislative committees while the state budget is under consideration; eliminating legislative leadership campaign committees to get corrupting campaign cash completely out of the State Capitol; pushing Wisconsin to support amending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the disastrous 2010 Citizens United vs. F.E.C. decision and to stipulate that money does not equal speech and that corporations are not persons; drastic revision of the unconstitutional and far-too extreme and restrictive Wisconsin photo voter ID law; and finally, an examination of State Supreme Court elections and judicial selection in general.

Details of these CC/WI reform initiatives will be forthcoming in the weeks and month ahead prior to 2013.

Stay tuned.

__________________________________________


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

608/256-2686

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't Know Where to Vote? Experiencing Harassment or Intimidation? Any Other Voting Questions? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE


Press Release
November 5, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



TOLL FREE PHONE NUMBER TO ANSWER ALL YOUR VOTING QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS AND TO OFFER VOTER PROTECTION 1-866-OUR-VOTE
 
Tuesday is Election Day. It's the one day we are all equal. We can stand up and have our say. If you haven't voted already, here are a few important tips:
  •  Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the Election Protection Hotline, to verify your registration status, locate your precinct, learn what ID you may need at the polls, and get answers to other election-related questions. The toll-free line is staffed Monday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST, and 5 a.m. CST until the polls close nationwide on Election Day. You can also email the hotline at info@866ourvote.org.
  •  Have a smartphone? Text OURVOTE to 90975 to download the free Election Protection Smartphone app. It can help you find your polling place, verify your registration status, and access other voter education materials. 
  • If you encounter long lines or your right to vote is questioned at the polls, or if you see other voters having difficulty, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE immediately. We have folks ready and willing to help. 
  • Share this message with your family and friends. We want everyone to know and to exercise their rights.
When we vote we are all equal. Stand up and have your say. Vote.  __________________________________________

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

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Biography of Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin





Jay Heck

Jay became the executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) in 1996. CC/WI is Wisconsin’s largest non-partisan citizens reform advocacy organization with more than 2,500 members. It is considered by Wisconsin’s major newspaper editorial boards and by pro-reform legislators of both major political parties to be Wisconsin’s most effective and influential state reform organization.

Heck and CC/WI led the statewide effort to create one of the first and the most effective on-line lobbyist reporting systems in the nation in 1998; helped to uncovered and played the lead role in highlighting illegal campaign fundraising in the State Capitol that led to the criminal charging and removal from office of five top legislative leaders of both political parties in 2001-2002; led the effort to eliminate the partisan political legislative caucus staffs involved in illegal campaign activities, saving taxpayers more than $4 million per year in 2001; led the legislative effort for the creation of a mandatory “paper trail” for all voting machines utilized in Wisconsin elections in 2006; helped devise and led in passing legislation to establish Wisconsin’s independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Board to oversee state elections, lobbying regulation and ethics in 2007; led the effort to enact into law the Impartial Justice Law which established full public financing for candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court who limited their spending to $400,000; helped devise and has led the legislative effort to pass a measure to require the disclosure of the donors to outside interest groups spending money to influence the outcome of elections; and has led in the establishing of the Iowa model as the leading redistricting reform measure in Wisconsin and united legislators and organizations behind it.

Heck moved to Wisconsin in 1988 from Washington, DC to serve as a top assistant to the Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Strohl and was the Associate Director of the State Senate Majority Democratic Caucus. He had previously spent seven years as Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Peter H. Kostmayer (D-PA). In 1980, Heck served on the national campaign staff of Independent U.S. Presidential candidate, Congressman John B.Anderson (R-IL). He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated with honors from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with degrees in political science and history.

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Sandra Miller - Director of Information Services and Outreach



Sandra Miller joined CC/WI as Director of Information Services and Outreach in February, 2009.

Prior to working for CC/WI, Sandra served as an independent health advocate and blogger, helping form a large online community that provides information and support to families with diabetic children.

Sandra also worked as a childbirth educator at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago after having spent the first 12 years of her career in the for-profit sector as a Training Consultant for an IT network consulting firm, and the Operations VP for a Boston-area marketing agency.

She is a native of Quincy, Massachusetts and attended Northeastern University in Boston and DePaul University in Chicago, graduating summa cum laude in 1992 with a B.A. in English.

Sandra resides in Madison with her husband and two children.

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In the News - November 2012



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