Thursday, July 2, 2020

Take Action Now to Vote Safely in August and November



For Release: Thursday - July 2, 2020



Something effective, safe, and patriotic YOU can do this 4th of July weekend!
Request your ballot today directly from the official source, the Wisconsin Election Commission, at myvote.wi.gov.


What's more patriotic than voting safely and protecting your fellow citizens?

Continued uncertainty about the duration of the nationwide pandemic and how it might adversely affect the "regular" voting process of physically going to your polling place to cast your ballot has resulted in many more Wisconsinites requesting absentee ballots for the upcoming August 11th primary election and for November 3rd general election.

The tremendous surge in absentee ballot requests for the April 7th election overwhelmed the election infrastructure in many areas of the state and that demand is likely to be higher for August and November.

It makes sense to make plans now to vote safely in August and in November. And voting by mail is one way you can do so.

Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot by mail. Some benefits to this process:

  1. You don’t have to make time in your day on Election Day to vote. Or wait in line. Vote on your own time when it works for you. 
  2. You can take your time to review the ballot and look up candidate information. No rushing and you can do your research with your ballot in hand. 
  3. Your postage paid reply envelope can be returned by mail or you can drop it off at clerk designated spots.

How do mail-in absentee ballots work?

You will receive your ballot in an official designated envelope from your municipal clerk. Remove all the contents, which should have one official, authorized ballot and one postage paid return envelope. There might also be additional instruction sheet(s). If your envelope is missing a ballot or return envelope, contact your clerk.

Use black or blue pen to fill out your ballot. Instructions for filling it out the ballot are right on the ballot. Follow those.

NOTE
: The August election is a primary election. In this election, voters in Wisconsin must choose only one party for which you cast votes. Here on this ballot are the Democratic, Republican, and Constitution parties.

First choose the party you wish to vote for the offices on the remainder of the ballot. After you choose the party, find the beginning of that party’s offices.

Continue to fill out the ballot, but only for that party. If you vote for multiple parties, your ballot will be spoiled and will not be counted. All the candidates running for offices will continue down the column and may continue into the next column. After the last office, you will see a note that says “End _____ Party Primary.”

Be sure to check both sides of your ballot.

Read the instructions on the front of your return envelope. The next steps need to be done with a witness in sight. These steps can and should be completed using social distancing unless the person is from your household. (NOTE: Witnesses, like voters, need to be 18 years or older and a U.S. Citizen.)
  1. Put your marked ballot in the official envelope. 
  2. Complete your address in section 2 (some clerks complete this section for voters) 
  3. Sign and date your envelope 
  4. Your witness will also sign and provide their mailing address
Your ballot needs to be received by your clerk on Election Day to be counted. If you are mailing it, it’s a good idea to put it in the mail at least a week prior to Election Day. (For the August 11th Election, best to get it in the mail on August 4th). Otherwise, find out from your clerk what drop-off options you have to get your ballot in on time.

If you haven’t yet made your request for an absentee mail-in ballot, do so now: myvote.wi.gov.

Then you can also use MyVote to track your ballot, check your voter registration status, and make any updates to your voter file (like a change of address). Your clerk contact information is also searchable on MyVote.

If you experience problems with the online process to request your ballot by mail, contact WEC’s helpdesk or your municipal clerk.

Have additional questions or need additional resources?

Before you can request your ballot, you will need to register to vote. Find out how at MyVote.wi.gov

Want to know how to request an absentee ballot: As Goes Wisconsin has an excellent video and step-by-step tutorial.

Find information about photo IDs that you can use for voting at the official site: Bring It to the Ballot.

Want to know which candidate best represents your values? Find candidate and ballot information from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin at Vote411.

Having problems or need additional help? Election Protection Wisconsin are ready to take your questions. Also find them on Facebook or Twitter.





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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Monday, June 22, 2020

Wanda Sloan of Beloit Joins Common Cause in Wisconsin Board



For Release: Tuesday - June 23, 2020


Long-Time Community Leader Supports Voting Rights, Ending Partisan Gerrymandering

Wanda Sloan
, a life-long resident of Beloit and a long-time educator and community organizer, has been elected to the State Governing Board of Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI), the state's largest non-partisan political reform organization with more than 7,700 members and activists. Sloan is currently an independent consultant on issues of race relations, diversity/inclusion, and cultural competency. She is retired from Blackhawk Technical College after 34 years of serving as Minority Student Advisor, and as a Human Resources Diversity and Training Development Specialist and adjunct faculty member teaching diversity and inclusion. 

"Wanda Sloan brings a wealth of experience and expertise in community building and in connecting people to bring about inclusion and active participation in the community and in the positive functioning of our local and state institutions. These are the very fundamental building blocks of our democracy," said former State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville, the current Chair of CC/WI, who has known Sloan for many years and nominated her to serve on the CC/WI Board.

Ms. Sloan has a MS degree in Public Administration and a minor in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Rosa Parks Activist Award at national, regional and local levels. She is currently a member of the Beloit NAACP, serving as the State Youth/College Advisor. She is also a member of the Beloit League of Women Voters and the National Affirmative Action Association. 

"I look forward to joining the Board of Common Cause in Wisconsin to help restore Wisconsin to its rightful place as a leader in voting rights and participation and to ensure fair voting maps so that citizens can choose their elected representatives instead of the opposite, which is what we have now in this state," Sloan said.

Sloan joins Common Cause in Wisconsin Board Members: Tim Cullen of Janesville, Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton, David Deininger of Monroe, Mike Drew of Milwaukee, Kristin Hansen of Waukesha, Bill Hotz of Brookfield, David Martin of Muscoda, E. Michael McCann of Mequon, Calvin Potter of Sheboygan Falls, Robert Schweder of Princeton and Roger Utnehmer of Wausau. Sue Conley of Janesville and Kriss Marion of Blanchardville recently resigned from the CC/WI Board to run as partisan candidates for the Wisconsin Assembly, which is required by CC/WI by-laws. 

Common Cause in Wisconsin is the state's largest non-partisan political reform advocacy group with more than 7,700 members and activists. For more information, go to commoncausewisconsin.org or call 608-256-2686.





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, May 26, 2020

Common Cause Wisconsin May 2020 Update: Elections and Redistricting Reform



For Release: Tuesday- May 26, 2020

Wisconsin Capitol at night. Photo credit: Michael 75 from Unsplash

Common Cause Wisconsin Update:
We Need Safe and Fair Elections & To End Partisan Gerrymandering!


To paraphrase one of our greatest U.S. Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Primary Election Day in Wisconsin, April 7th, 2020 -- was a day that will live in infamy.”

Wisconsin was the only state in the nation that did not postpone its primary election in the midst of the national coronavirus pandemic, while 15 other states did. Only in Wisconsin were voters forced to make what could be a literal life or death choice.

They could vote in person on election day to have their voice heard, but risk being infected or passing on COVID-19 to someone else, unintentionally. Or, they could choose not to vote and not have their voice heard and thereby not risk being exposed to the virus. Tens of thousands of voters who had applied by the deadline for absentee ballots but had not received them by April 7th -- were forced to make this agonizing choice -- along with many other voters unable to vote absentee. Tens of thousands of voters were effectively disenfranchised in this disastrous election through no fault of their own.

The blame for this horrific dilemma can be placed squarely on the selfish, hyperpartisan calculations of Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. They were backed by and supported by the partisan conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court (4-2 vote) and the partisan conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court (5 to 4 vote) -- as well as by President Donald Trump, in collaboration with the national Republican Party. Vos, Fitzgerald and Trump all believed that their candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to the Court by former Gov. Scott Walker four years ago, would win on April 7th because the COVID-19 pandemic would most severely reduce voter turnout in Democratic-leaning areas like Milwaukee and Dane Counties and elsewhere. Despite the obvious danger to thousands of Wisconsinites posed by going ahead with the “in-person” election, they refused to allow it to be postponed.

CC/WI led in the statewide effort to press for the extension of the deadline for acceptance of absentee ballots and for the relaxation of onerous photo ID and witness signature requirements on those ballots. We supported the call of Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the election before the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked his order. We have called for a U.S. Congressional investigation of the election. And now, we are working to ensure that Wisconsinites will never again have to choose between staying safe and healthy and being able to vote in an election. The conditions under which the April 7th election was held were a national disgrace that must never be repeated – in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

CC/WI was by far, the most outspoken and the most often cited reform organization in Wisconsin during the lead-up to the April 7th “pandemic” election and afterward. We were interviewed and quoted in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Politico, ABC News, National Public Radio, The Guardian, USA Today (and in Gannett newspapers nationwide), the national Associated Press and in dozens of state and local media articles and stories. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Japanese TV also covered us. We told the nation and the world what was happening in Wisconsin, who was to blame and how this must never happen again.
Between now and November, CC/WI is working to inform citizens about how to be able to request to vote by mail-in absentee ballot for the upcoming August primary election and in November and to do so in plenty of time so they will be sure to receive their ballots and can return them well before, or on the election day deadline. We are also continuing our essential work informing Wisconsinites about what they must do in order to comply with Wisconsin’s restrictive photo identification voter law as we also help citizens obtain the required ID to vote. CC/WI has led the statewide effort in assisting public and private university and college students to understand whether or not their institution-issued photo ID is compliant with the state voter law. If it is not, we inform students how to obtain the correct form of ID so they can vote.

Last year CC/WI sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission for unequal treatment under the Wisconsin photo ID law for the way it is applied to college and university students in the state. Specifically, we addressed the fact that the requirements for the photo ID issued by many institutions to students exceeds the requirements of the state ID law for the purposes of voting. State law created needless obstacles like mandatory expiration dates and a signature requirement for a student to vote – requirements that other forms of voting ID do not demand. That makes it more burdensome and difficult for students to vote. Our suit is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago and we are pressing for a judgment before November. In the meantime, we are updating the only comprehensive website in the state for college voters to inform them about their student IDs and how to be able to vote.

CC/WI has consistently opposed Wisconsin’s restrictive and extreme voter photo ID law because we believe more people, not fewer should be able to vote and because Wisconsin places an undue and unfair burden on poorer people, people of color and people who rely on public transportation and do not have driver licenses, including many seniors who live in both urban and rural communities. This state once had the highest, or second highest voter turnout in the nation. The extreme voter ID law, which became effective in 2016, has caused Wisconsin to fall out of the top ten states in voter turnout. That’s just wrong and unjust. We are fighting to end it.

CC/WI is resurrecting its very successful and unique “free rides to the polls” program, which we first developed in 2014 and have continued, with increasing participation and involvement since then. We have the only website in the state where voters can go to see who offers free transportation to polling places on election day, or for early voting, or even to get a ride to a state Division of Motor Vehicles office to get a free photo ID that can be utilized to vote. In November of 2018, CC/WI coordinated several thousand such free rides for voters for these purposes. It will be in even higher demand and even more needed in Wisconsin this November.

CC/WI is also leading the statewide fight to inform citizens and advocate against an outrageous purge of as many as 200,000 duly registered voters on the Wisconsin statewide voter registration list overseen by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. An ultra-conservative law firm hand picked a conservative judge in Ozaukee County last December to rule that tens of thousands of voters who had not responded to a postcard mailed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission last October should be removed from the state voter list and be forced to re-register to vote! Of course, most of these voters were from counties such as Milwaukee and Dane that tend to lean Democratic in elections. A State Court of Appeals overruled the biased Ozaukee County Judge earlier this year and the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 3 to 3 not to hear the case. Conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, who recused himself from that decision because his re-election was pending at the time, has now announced he will vote to hear the case, even after his decisive defeat on April 13, and he has signaled he can support purging tens of thousands of voters so that he can hand conservatives and Republicans a decisive, unfair and partisan voting advantage heading towards the November election.

No one has been more outspoken and critical than CC/WI of the far right-wing law firm that dreamed up this voter purge, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty in Milwaukee, or of the hand-picked, partisan Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy, or, of the hyperpartisan conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and, in particular, of Justice Daniel Kelly. We consistently speak out against this partisanship on our state courts and the urgent need to return impartiality, fairness, and the rule of law to Wisconsin courts at every level.

We are also preparing to mobilize our allies to help identify who will be purged from the voting list by the expected Wisconsin Supreme Court decision and then to work to re-register them before November. You can and should check up and track your own voter registration status at myvote.wi.gov. We must take pro-active, positive action to combat this voter suppression!

CC/WI continues to lead in the seven-year effort to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Last July, "stand alone" redistricting reform legislation, based on neighbor Iowa’s redistricting system, was introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature by State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and State Representative Robyn Vining (D-Waukesha). What is very different this time was the significant Republican support and co-sponsorship of the legislation, Senate Bill 288 and Assembly Bill 303. During the past three sessions of the Wisconsin Legislature, similar reform legislation had attracted only one Republican co-sponsor. Now, it has five: State Representatives Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay, Jeff Mursau of Crivitz, Todd Novak of Dodgeville, Loren Oldenburg of Viroqua and Travis Tranel of Cuba City. And another, Jon Plumer of Lodi, has said he will vote for the measure as well. Clearly state legislators are hearing from their constituents, including from many CC/WI members. Turning up the heat on your state legislators is working! Your voice does make a difference.

Seven years ago, Common Cause in Wisconsin united pro-reform legislators behind this “Iowa Model” legislation. Not many Wisconsinites knew or understood fully at that time what partisan gerrymandering entailed and just how destructive it has been to basic fairness and democracy in this state by effectively silencing the voices of millions of Wisconsin voters in elections since 2012. But now, after seven years of intensive citizen education and high visibility information about this issue by CC/WI and our allies -- virtually every citizen of all political stripes grasps this issue and the need to have fair voting maps, not the rigged, partisan maps we have now. A Marquette Law School statewide poll found that 72 percent of Wisconsinites support a nonpartisan redistricting process for 2021 and that includes 62 percent of all Republican voters. We are winning this battle for the hearts and minds of Wisconsinites!

Grassroots citizen pressure at the local level has resulted in the passage of resolutions in support of the Iowa Model by more than two thirds (50) of Wisconsin’s 72 counties thus far, most of which voted “red” (for Donald Trump and Scott Walker) in the 2016 and 2018 elections. And that movement is gaining even more strength each day. We worked with our reform allies to get citizen referendums on fair voting maps on ballots in ten counties to pass overwhelmingly on April 7th and now have won in all 22 counties that have held such votes!

Redistricting reform will occur in Wisconsin, sooner or later. Support for ending partisan gerrymandering is growing and Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin’s other statewide constitutional officers support it too. Republican support in the Legislature has increased and the issue is “front and center” for 2020. Our task is to continue to advocate, educate, organize and keep pushing forward to get this done. And we will. We will never give in or quit in this fight.

We are gearing up now for the upcoming redistricting battle that will occur next year – in 2021. CC/WI intends to hold Robin Vos and the other legislative leaders who have blocked fair representation to account and challenge them every step of the way. We will not allow them to do to Wisconsin what they did in 2011 when they all but destroyed fair elections in Wisconsin.
During this awful pandemic, you and I are currently living in some of the most difficult and trying times in our lives and in American history. Some of you may have experienced the loss of a loved one, a friend or someone you know. Many have suffered economic loss and even severe devastation during this unprecedented period. All of us are undergoing some degree of stress and uncertainty as we navigate our lives through this unfamiliar and disquieting terrain, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, but hoping for a better day ahead.

If you can assist CC/WI financially at the current time so that we can continue to press ahead to make our elections in Wisconsin fair and safe and to end partisan gerrymandering and return some semblance of decency and democracy to our state, we would be deeply grateful to you.

If that is possible, you can “snail mail” your check or credit card payment to:

Common Cause Wisconsin
P.O. Box 2597
Madison, WI. 53701-2597

Or, you can make a secure, on-line contribution to CC/WI by going here.

Thank you for caring deeply about the health and safety of our democracy in Wisconsin. Please stay healthy and safe and hopeful in the days, weeks and months immediately ahead.

With gratitude and hope for a better tomorrow,

Jay Heck
CC/WI Director




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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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Redistricting Letter to State Senators, Representatives, and Governor



For Release: Wednesday- May 20, 2020


Redistricting Reform Pledge Request from Common Cause Wisconsin to State Elected Officials


This letter was sent to all current members of the Wisconsin Assembly, State Senate and to Gov. Tony Evers.

--
May 19, 2020

Dear Wisconsin State Senator/Representative/Gov. Evers,

For decades, Common Cause has supported reforms to end gerrymandering across the country in states that are controlled by both Democrats and Republicans. As part of our ongoing effort to shine a spotlight on the need for redistricting that puts people first, we are writing to ask you to sign the End Gerrymandering Pledge.

Our pledge reads as follows: “Redistricting should be fair, transparent, non-discriminatory and politically impartial.” See some national leaders who have signed the pledge on our End Gerrymandering Pledge website. Elected officials should use this link to sign the pledge.

Following the 2020 census, voting districts at all levels of government will have to be redrawn in Wisconsin to adhere to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection. Common Cause believes that redistricting should be a process that prioritizes fair representation for Wisconsin residents, meaningful community input, and transparency. Unfortunately, redistricting in Wisconsin and other states in which legislators control the process has been plagued by partisanship, illegal racial gerrymandering, and backroom deals that prioritize political advantage for incumbents and the majority party over the rights of the public.

Improved technology has made it possible for mapmakers to undermine our representative democracy by using the redistricting process to preordain the outcome of elections for an entire decade. A basic premise of our system of government is that We the People can hold our elected officials accountable on Election Day. Gerrymandering denies voters this fundamental freedom.

We hope that you will help to instill confidence in the democratic process in Wisconsin by signing the End Gerrymandering Pledge. By signing this pledge, you are demonstrating your support for Assembly Bill 303/Senate Bill 288. This bill would bring the Iowa model for redistricting to Wisconsin by empowering nonpartisan staff to draw districts that legislators must approve. Common Cause Wisconsin will spotlight signers on our website so Wisconsinites will know which elected officials have committed to defending their fundamental voting rights during the upcoming redistricting process.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you have any questions, feel free to respond to this email or call me at (608) 512-9363.

Sincerely,

Jay Heck
Executive Director
Common Cause Wisconsin






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...