Monday, October 4, 2021

People's Maps Commission Release Draft State Legislative and Congressional District Maps

Monday - October 4, 2021



A Vast Improvement Over 2011 G.O.P. Gerrymandered Maps
 
 
The People's Maps Commission (PMC) released their long-anticipated draft voting maps for state legislative and congressional districts last Thursday night in a virtual presentation and they put forward three map options for both the legislative and congressional maps. Their plan is to take public comment on the draft maps through Thursday of this week (10/7) and then begin to finalize their maps to submit to the Wisconsin Legislature in mid-October. The Republican majority in the Legislature may well ignore the PMC maps but regardless they will likely form the basis of "alternative" voting maps to the partisan gerrymandered voting maps expected to be put forward by majority Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature to later be considered by the State Supreme Court and/or a federal three judge panel in the certain litigation ahead to determine the final maps in this redistricting process. Court involvement and determination of the final voting maps would occur after Gov. Tony Evers vetoes the partisan Republican voting maps, which he has publicly vowed to do.
 
Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) believes the PMC maps are a vast improvement over the 2011 gerrymandered voting maps. The PMC realistically concedes that there is a Republican advantage in a fair redistricting process by virtue of the way Democrats tend to be more concentrated in urban areas and Republicans are more spread out over rural areas. They didn't engineer a partisan Democratic gerrymander as some skeptics feared they might or predicted they would. Instead, the People’s Maps Commission produced draft maps that met overwhelming citizen demand for fairness utilizing non-partisan criteria such as contiguity, compactness, less division of counties, cities, and communities of interest. These maps do a far better job of keeping counties, cities, and communities of interest intact than the partisan 2011 G.O.P. maps that badly butchered or ignored altogether those factors.
 
The PMC said they really took into consideration the more than 1,000 local and state maps that were submitted to them over the past year from citizens all over the state. So unlike in 2011, there was considerable public input into these maps. Ten years ago, the public, the media and everyone else but G.O.P legislative leaders and their high-priced lawyers were completely shut off from the redistricting process.
 
Tim Cullen, the Chair of the CC/WI State Board was a former Democratic State Senate Majority Leader and was a leading proponent of non-partisan redistricting reform in the Wisconsin Legislature, said today, "Voting Maps viewed by the public as fair, will produce better candidates, organizations and campaigns and the citizens of Wisconsin will feel that fairness is back in our state elections. I am very pleased that the People’s Maps Commission did their work so well. I was concerned that there might be some tilting toward the Democrats. There wasn't. These maps reflect the political geography of Wisconsin. They are realistic and fair and I believe they will truly have a positive impact in the courts."
 
The PMC draft maps were released for public inspection two days after Republicans in the State Senate and Assembly strong-armed through -- along strictly party lines -- joint resolutions calling for new state legislative and congressional districts to be changed "as little as possible" from the heavily, hyper partisan gerrymandered 2011 voting maps passed by the G.O.P. That certainly indicates their intention to try to repeat this year what they did a decade ago during redistricting.
 
TAKE ACTION: CC/WI urges citizens to view the draft state legislative and congressional voting maps put forward by the People’s Maps Commission and provide them feedback in the next three days. You can view and comment on the maps through the PMC website
 
For good news summaries of the PMC map release and how they fit into the overall picture of redistricting in Wisconsin this year you can go here (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel subscription required to view article) and here. (Wisconsin Examiner free article).
 
The redistricting process is moving ahead very rapidly now. The tremendous energy and determination of so many Wisconsin citizens of all political persuasions to secure a much fairer and less partisan redistricting process this year is moving forward. We need to keep the pressure on and get the outcome we all desire to take fair voting maps to the finish line.
 
Thanks for your support and active participation in advancing democracy in Wisconsin!
 
Jay Heck
CC/WI Executive Director

--------------------------

Contact: 
Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
www.commoncausewisconsin.org

Read More...


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Be Vote Ready! And Help Others Register to Vote.

Tuesday - September 28, 2021



National Voter Registration Day is Today - Celebrate Democracy!

 
Common Cause Wisconsin is excited to be part of a national effort to strengthen our democracy by encouraging voters to register TODAY, this year’s National Voter Registration Day, September 28, 2021.
 
Help celebrate National Voter Registration Day by registering to vote, checking your voter status, and sharing with others information about how they can register to vote, too. Sharing is easy when you can send an email, text, or post to social media.
 
You can begin by double-checking that you are currently ready to vote by going to myvote.wi.gov. Even if you think you’re registered or have cast a ballot recently, it’s a good idea to verify your voter registration on at the official election site: MyVote.
 
And, if you’ve never cast a ballot before, this is your moment to take action so that you can do so. Voting is one of the most meaningful ways that you can engage in our democracy and have your voice heard and counted.
 
Know a student voter that needs to register to vote?
Here are some resources and information to share.
 
If you know a student attending a college or university in Wisconsin, make a special effort to reach out to them about voting. Over half of eligible young voters (ages 18-29) do NOT cast a ballot. They need encouragement and accurate information to be able to vote in Wisconsin because, unfortunately, the Wisconsin Legislature and then-Gov. Scott Walker enacted a voter suppression law ten years ago that made it more difficult for Wisconsin college and university students -- who lacked a Wisconsin driver's license, passport, or one of the other relatively narrow listing of photo ID that can be used to vote -- to be able to vote than in almost any other state in the country. At many public and private colleges in Wisconsin, the photo ID issued to students is not sufficient or valid to be able to vote.
 
We have important information available to share from the Common Cause Wisconsin website:
  
Most students already have a Wisconsin driver license or one of the other acceptable forms of photo ID for voting.
 
Students who do not have one of the other forms of acceptable ID for voting should look up their college/university on the appropriate list linked below to see if their student ID can be used as a photo ID to vote or if their school offers a special photo ID card for voting:
     
AND if you’re looking for an opportunity or know someone who would like to help engage young people to vote and be engaged with democracy, this upcoming event does just that! Our friends at the Campus Vote Project are hosting both a virtual and in-person WI Campus Voting Summit on October 8th and 9th. The summit is FREE and assistance with transportation costs is available. Sign up today:
  

Have questions or need some assistance with voter registration?
Help is just a call, text, or email away.
 
Call or text the WI Voter Helpline at 608-285-2141 and you will be connected to a nonpartisan person who can help answer all your questions. You can also request services such as getting assistance at the DMV to get an ID to vote or having someone walk you through the voter registration process.
 
Call the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline for assistance: 1-844-347-8683. Or email: info@disabilityvote.org. Additional online resources are also at the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition website.
 
Partner organizations and community groups are holding voter registration events in areas across the state today and are happy to help! You can find National Voter Registration Day events TODAY near you by going here and entering your zip code.
 
Remember!
National Voter Registration Day is not about paying attention for just this one day, but rather, it is a day meant to highlight an important step that all voters must take to preserve and protect our democracy.
 
Democracy depends on you.
 
Jay Heck
CC/WI Executive Director

--------------------------

Contact: 
Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
www.commoncausewisconsin.org

Read More...


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Wisconsin Redistricting Process is Moving Forward Fast This Fall

Tuesday - September 14, 2021 



Variety of Actions Citizens Can Take to Promote Fair Voting Maps
 

Summer is nearly over and school has started again all over Wisconsin. Currently, the decennial redistricting process is well under way in the state since the release of the 2020 Census data in mid-August. With a population gain of about 200,000 over the past decade, Wisconsin narrowly dodged losing one of our eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives but every congressional district and all 99 Wisconsin Assembly districts and 33 State Senate districts must be redrawn to be of equal size to reflect population shifts over the past decade.

That process is beginning in cities, towns and counties all over Wisconsin as well as in the Legislature and in federal and state courts. While it may seem to be a very complex issue, there are a lot of relatively simple tasks any citizen who cares about representative democracy can do to have an impact on the critical matter of securing fair voting maps for Wisconsin during this 2021-22 redistricting process and beyond.
 
Pick one or do them all. If you've taken action in some way, thank you! And consider additional ways to support or further ensuring fair voting maps in 2021 and beyond. Be sure to share these actions with family and friends. Our voices are being heard and we are making a difference!

First, you can familiarize yourself with the issue of redistricting and the need to reform the current redistricting process in Wisconsin and what that reform might look like. This past August 17th, CC/WI hosted a statewide 90-minute webinar on this subject with special guests State Senator Jeff Smith of Eau Claire, State Representative Deb Andraca of Whitefish Bay, redistricting legal expert Mel Barnes of the Madison-based progressive firm, Law Forward, former State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber and I in which more than 300 Wisconsinites registered. You can watch and listen to that complete webinar (or any part of it) by going here.

Second, you can also inform yourself about the various legal issues surrounding redistricting in Wisconsin in a number of ways. This recent article from the Wisconsin Examiner provides a good summary of recent developments in the courts. Also, this recent redistricting segment from a news program, Capital City Sunday (on WKOW Channel 27 in Madison) provides good information on the legal battle over redistricting. And just yesterday, there was this latest legal development captured by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As we have noted, redistricting is moving forward fast and furiously!

Third, you can contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and demand that they support the bipartisan redistricting reform legislation introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature in June based on our neighboring state of Iowa's non-partisan redistricting process. Senate Bill 389 and Assembly Bill 395 is the "Iowa Model" legislation whose lead sponsors are State Sen. Jeff Smith and State Rep. Deb Andraca, who discussed the measures in the August 17th CC/WI webinar.



Fourth, you can participate in the statewide virtual lobby day and directly advocate to support a fair map making process and SB 389/AB395 on September 27. There are virtual training workshops ahead of the lobby day event so you can prepare for interacting with your legislators. Pre-registration required. More information from the Fair Maps Coalition site here.

Fifth, you can submit your own fair voting map to the online portal set up by the Wisconsin Legislature and specifically by long-time opponent of fair voting maps, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos because of tremendous public pressure to allow the public to have some say in how legislative and congressional districts are redrawn in 2021-22. 

Sixth, you can urge both your State Senator and State Representative to include a question about support for fair voting maps and non-partisan redistricting reform legislation in their next questionnaire that they send to their constituents. The overwhelming majority of all Wisconsin citizens -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike -- support non-partisan redistricting and when legislators ask their constituents this question, they often respond by becoming supporters of redistricting reform -- which is the whole idea! In 2019, State Rep. Jeff Mursau (R - Crivitz) asked his constituents this question and received these results.

And if you want even more ideas about how to promote fair voting maps this year in Wisconsin, we have them! Just contact me at jheck@commoncause.org or call our Madison office at 608-256-2686 and we can discuss it.

We can and will have fairer voting maps and a less partisan and more fair redistricting process this year if we take action to make that happen. Thank you for all that you have done in the past.

Forward.

On Wisconsin!

Jay Heck
Common Cause Wisconsin
Executive Director
--------------------------

Contact: 
Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
www.commoncausewisconsin.org

Read More...


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Stop the Sham Election "Investigations" in Wisconsin

Thursday - September 9, 2021



Say No to Reinvestigating the 2020 Elections in Wisconsin

All across the country, cronies of former President Trump have been attacking the official election results, all as part of an effort to keep the lies about the 2020 election alive and undermine our power at the polls.
 
In Arizona, a sham election review has dragged on for months with no end in sight. The Cyber Ninjas operation lacks transparency, credibility, and created chaos and infighting for state and local leaders. [1] Various groups have spent at least $5.6 million on the spectacle, to date, buying who-knows-what with their private donations. [2] But the effort has compromised voting machines, which will cost taxpayers $2.8 million to replace. [3]
 
In Pennsylvania, officials in three counties declined to participate in a similar review, citing the expected costs of replacing their voting machines – estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. [4] One Republican-led County Commission accused a state Senator of creating “unnecessary chaos” with his planned review, urging him to drop the idea and “let responsible Republicans get back to work on subjects such as recovering from COVID-19, addressing the opioid crisis and the ‘help wanted’ issue.” [5]
 
Now, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Representative Janel Brandtjen are trying to recreate the Cyber Ninjas chaos in Wisconsin. Speaker Vos even took a plane ride with former President Trump where he boasted about this illegitimate “forensic audit” and said he “very much enjoyed the chance to get to know President Trump on a personal level.” [6]
 
What Vos plans to do to keep close to Trump is not exactly clear. But Reince Priebus of Wisconsin – one of Trump’s former chiefs of staff and a close friend of Vos – estimated that this sham operation would cost taxpayers more than $680,000. [7] Last week Monday, in closed-door meeting, Republican lawmakers on the Assembly's organization committee approved spending that much on “an additional investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin.” [8]
 
 
Wisconsinites don’t deserve to be dragged into this nationwide effort to massage Trump’s ego by attacking our election systems and our freedom to vote. Just yesterday, Republican State Senator Kathy Bernier invited members of the legislature and their staff to hear from clerks, election officials, and experts to see first hand how elections are run in our state, and once again revealed how perpetuating these lies about the election harm our democracy. [9]
 
The members of our communities who stepped forward to serve as election workers during the pandemic deserve our gratitude and respect – not to be targeted with unfounded and unspecific allegations.
 
And – there are so many other things that Wisconsin could spend $680,000 on. That would pay for the entire cost of the new “dairy processor grant” program to grow our dairy industry. It would pay the entire FY23 cost of statewide monitoring and testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “forever chemicals.” It would pay for a year of grant funding to counties, nonprofit organizations and tribes for innovative practices aimed at reducing child abuse and neglect. [10]
 
The voters of Wisconsin expect our state legislators to put our needs above personal political ambitions. Already our hard-earned tax dollars have been spent on chasing conspiracies and keeping dangerous lies about the 2020 election alive through calls for sham investigations. The 2020 election was free, fair, and accurate. It’s time for Wisconsin politicians to stop inflaming unsubstantiated allegations, respect the outcome of the election, and get back to work helping the people of Wisconsin.
 
Write your state senator and representative to tell them you oppose these sham investigations into the 2020 election. Click here to send them a letter now. The form makes it easy.
 
Thank you for taking action and standing up against carrying out sham election investigations in Wisconsin that come at a high cost to taxpayers and our democracy.
 
Onward!
Jay Heck
CC/WI Executive Director
--------------------------

Contact: 
Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
www.commoncausewisconsin.org

Read More...