Thursday, November 12, 2020

Fair Voting Maps Advance in Wisconsin on November 3

For Release: Thursday – November 12, 2020

 2011 Gerrymander Allowed Very Few Close Elections in 2020 

A huge victory for Fair Voting Maps and Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform in Wisconsin on November 3rd as referendums in all eleven counties (& 3 municipalities) it was on the ballot in -- passed with margins as high as 77 percent. Every time this is on the ballot it has passed - now in 28 counties. This time voters in Adams, Bayfield, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Rusk and Waushara Counties voted for advisory referendums stipulating support for a non-partisan redistricting process like our neighboring state of Iowa's, to be adopted by the Wisconsin Legislature and to be in place for the 2021 redistricting process.

While advisory referendums like this are not legally binding on legislators to follow the directives of the great majority of their constituents, they do exert considerable political pressure on them. For example, there are now five Republican co-sponsors of the redistricting reform legislation in the Legislature this past session, partly as a result of the passage of county referendums in the past two years. In the 2017-2018 legislative session there was only one Republican co-sponsor. Legislation to impose an Iowa-model non-partisan redistricting reform process will be reintroduced in the upcoming, new Wisconsin state legislative session in January.

In the meantime, the durability of the most partisan state legislative gerrymandering in the nation in 2011, which occurred in Wisconsin, was in full evidence in 2020 where only 10 of 99 Assembly Districts experienced even remotely competitive elections in which the margin of victory separating the winner from the lose was within 9 percentage points. And only four of those ten were truly competitive - within 4 points. All of the other 89 Assembly districts saw either "blow out" elections or elections that were entirely uncontested by candidates of one major political party or the other.

In the State Senate, only one of the 16 elections was truly competitive -- the 32nd District in western Wisconsin which includes La Crosse and surrounding counties. None of the other State Senate Districts was particularly competitive and none of Wisconsin's eight Congressional elections was remotely close at all.

The passage of the county referendums and the continuation of the People's Maps Commission public hearings, which resume next Thursday evening, November 19th at 6 PM, will continue to build public support and momentum for fair state legislative and congressional voting maps. The November 19th hearing will give priority to citizens residing in the 3rd Congressional District. To register to testify or submit written comments, go here. 

On Wisconsin!



Jay Heck
Executive Director

608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Voter Participation Soars in A Largely Problem-Free Election

 For Release: Wednesday – November 11, 2020

The third closest Presidential election in Wisconsin in the last twenty years was concluded within about 15 hours of the polls closing on November 3rd. Unofficial results show former Vice President Joe Biden defeating President Donald Trump by 20,539 votes. The official statewide canvass of the votes is currently taking place and must be concluded by November 17th. Then, the Trump campaign can formally request a recount of the votes.

Voter turnout in Wisconsin for this election was the highest it has been since 2004 at just over 72 percent. More than 3.2 million of Wisconsin's 3.6 million registered voters cast ballots either utilizing absentee ballots or by voting in-person early or on November 3rd. Voter turnout in 2016 was 67.3 percent.

This level of voter participation is remarkable and even astonishing, coming as it did in the midst of the most infectious and deadly pandemic and health emergency occurring in the state and the nation in over a hundred years.

And, by every indication and measure that we have been able to determine thus far, this election in Wisconsin was conducted without any of the problems or threats that were anticipated by some, or which occurred in some past elections. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and to all objective observers of the electoral process, there were few problems or evidence of any election malfeasance, fraud, or voter intimidation and harassment on or before November 3rd.

In short, this was a remarkably smooth, problem-free election characterized by very high voter participation and interest throughout most of Wisconsin.

And yet, without any proof or evidence whatsoever, there have been wildly speculative, baseless and completely false assertions by some that voting fraud and malfeasance resulted in Trump finishing some 20,000 votes behind Biden. It must be noted that there were no such baseless assertions made in 2016 when Trump finished about 23,000 votes ahead of Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin.

Even more alarmingly, some elected officials in Wisconsin have, without evidence, suggested there were voter "irregularities" in Milwaukee, a thinly-veiled racial smear and have even gone so far as to suggest that the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature should control how the state's Electoral College delegates cast their votes for President, regardless of the will of the voters of the state. This is illegal. In Wisconsin, the state legislature plays no role in certifying or deciding which slate of electors vote in the electoral college.

We have many of you to thank for helping so much to make this election a relatively trouble-free and safe exercise of the democratic process! CC/WI was extremely busy in the weeks leading up to November 3rd to inform voters about what they needed to vote by absentee ballot and in-person, and to ready voters before they cast their ballot.

CC/WI also helped to recruit nearly 1,000 volunteers through Protect the Vote in Wisconsin for various election-related activities, including volunteers who called or texted voters to assist with registration and answer questions, poll monitors on Election Day, social media monitors to watch and report false and misleading election posts, in-area volunteers to support the Voter Helpline and assisted with taking voters to DMVs to get free IDs or be a witness to sign the absentee ballot envelope for voters. We also helped recruit lawyers to staff the Election Protection Hotline (1-888-Our-Vote) which is a service voters could use before and on Election Day to report any problems and concerns with voting.

This was a spectacular, all hands on deck effort by so many of you to bring about an election in Wisconsin that we can be proud of. But we need to be on guard against those who seek to undermine it, and who want to impose their own political will over that of the voters.



Jay Heck

Executive Director
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)


Monday, November 2, 2020

Tomorrow is Election Day! What You Need to Know to Cast Your Ballot and Have it Counted

 For Release: Monday – November 2, 2020

Election Day has finally arrived: Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3rd - the most important and consequential election in our lifetime. Your vote is your voice in this fragile democracy we live in and I don't have to tell you that your voice matters now, more than ever before. So, if you haven't yet cast your ballot by absentee voting, then prepare now for how you will vote tomorrow.
The Wisconsin Election Commission put out this guidance last week to all voters:  Important Things Voters Should Know for Election Day
If you have a mail-in absentee ballot that was mailed to you and you have not returned it yet, be sure to hand return your completed ballot TODAY. Do NOT mail it. All ballots need to be received no later than 8pm tomorrow on Election Day (and some drop boxes will close prior to 8pm.) Your clerk and will have information about where you can take your ballot. Don't forget: The ballot envelope needs a witness signature and the address of the witness.
You can track your ballot through the official ballot tracker on MyVote. Don't see that your ballot was received? Contact your clerk for further information.
Also understand your options if you requested an absentee ballot but did not return it yet. 

If you are planning to vote in person at the polls, please take great care. Follow social distancing guidelines for your safety and the safety of others. Wear a mask. Consider bringing your own black or blue pen to mark your ballot. Be patient and safe. And read the information below so you are prepared when you show up to vote at your polling location. Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 
You can register to vote on Election Day at your voting location. (Find your polling place.) Being registered to vote means being registered at your current address. You need to have lived at your current address for at least 28 days prior to Election Day in order to register to vote in that election district or ward. You'll need to bring a proof of residence document to complete your registration (this document can be shown electronically - like on your phone or tablet).
Photo ID: 
You are required to show a photo ID before you vote. If you have a Wisconsin driver's license or ID card, then you’re all set. Other forms of ID work too, and it’s good to check the official list of acceptable IDs at to make sure you have what you need. 
What if you don't have an acceptable ID to vote tomorrow? You can ask for AND vote with a provisional ballot. But, for your ballot to be counted, you MUST either come back to your polling place with an acceptable form of ID before it closes at 8:00 PM on Election Day OR bring your ID to your municipal clerk's office by 4:00 PM the Friday after the election (Friday, November 6th). If you don't have an acceptable ID for voting and need help getting one, contact the Voter Helpline 608-285-2141 for assistance.
Need a Ride to Your Polling Location to Vote? Call 414-246-1823
Souls to the Polls are arranging free rides for voters from anywhere served by Lyft and Uber in the state to your polling site and back home on Election Day. This free ride service includes taking a voter to an official ballot drop box to return your completed mailed absentee ballot - even today, the day before Election Day. So call to arrange your ride: 414-246-1823.
More transportation options for voters can be found on the Disability Rights Coalition website. Many of these services require advanced notice to arrange the rides.
Student Voters:
Students attending a university, college, or technical school in Wisconsin can find information to vote from the CC/WI webpage: Three Things College Students Need to Vote in Wisconsin.
Quarantined / Hospital Voting:
Given the unfortunate status of COVID throughout Wisconsin, voters who are quarantined or hospitalized will have to take special precautions to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Election Commission has instructions and information for these voting situations.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wisconsin State Legislative Candidates and Partisan Gerrymandering: Which Side Are They On?

 For Release: Wednesday – October 28, 2020

Redistricting Reform Referendums on Eleven County Ballots and
a People's Map Commission Public Hearing - October 29th

During the current election season and during the 2019-2020 legislative session, non-partisan redistricting reform was a leading political reform issue and initiative among citizens throughout Wisconsin and in the media. Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) helped unite pro-reform legislators and citizens behind a single measure -- 2019 Assembly Bill 303 and 2019 Senate Bill 288 -- that is modeled after Iowa's highly successful, 40-year-old redistricting process that takes the partisan politics out of redistricting and delegates the boundary-drawing to a non-partisan state entity that does not utilize partisan political considerations in their task.
Nonpartisan redistricting reform has received the unprecedented endorsement of every Wisconsin daily newspaper editorial board. As well, thousands of citizens expressed their support for ending gerrymandering by voting for county advisory referendums to end partisan gerrymandering, in letters to editors, communications to legislators, and by attending one of numerous "reform forums" (both in-person and virtual) CC/WI and other organizations organized over 2019-2020 in every part of Wisconsin.

Advisory referendums in support of ending partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin during the upcoming redistricting process next year are on the November 3rd election ballot in eleven counties: Adams, Bayfield, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Rusk and Waushara. In addition, referendums are on the ballot in three municipalities: the city of Barron (in Barron County), the city of Racine (in Racine County) and in Land O'Lakes (in Vilas County). Voters have the opportunity to send Wisconsin legislators a strong message that they oppose rigged, partisan voter maps in these referendums.

While the Republican state legislative leadership continues to oppose this reform and refused to hold even a public hearing during the past legislative session, redistricting reform is very much an issue during this current election season.

As we have done for every election since 2014, CC/WI wants to make it simple and easy for Wisconsin voters to see which state legislative candidates support the non-partisan redistricting reform embodied in the "Iowa Plan" by providing an updated list of those candidates on our website. These candidates have either co-sponsored AB 303/SB 288 during the 2019-2020 legislative session as incumbents, or have informed us, or one of our coalition partners that they support this reform if they are challengers. If a candidate who supports the Iowa Model reform legislation is not on our list, that candidate -- or her/his campaign -- may contact us and we will be happy to add them.

Wisconsinites will also have an opportunity to weigh in publicly this Fall and next year in support on ending partisan gerrymandering by testifying at one of the eight (virtual) public hearings (one in each of Wisconsin's eight congressional districts) being scheduled by Governor Ever's "People's Map Commission."

The next virtual People's Map Commission hearing is tomorrow evening - Thursday, October 29th. This one gives priority to voters who live in Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District (Milwaukee & suburbs) to testify for up to three minutes. But voters who reside in other congressional districts in Wisconsin may submit written comment and testimony at any time to the Commission. Here is how to testify and to submit written comments:
Thursday, October 29, 2020, 5th Congressional District, 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Hold state legislative candidates accountable for support for ending partisan gerrymandering and for fair voting maps in this upcoming election. Wisconsin deserves Fair Maps.
On Wisconsin! Forward!

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin

608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin

152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703