Monday, October 7, 2019

Momentum Keeps Building for Fair Maps



For Release: Monday - October 7, 2019


Yet another Wisconsin county — this time Sheboygan — has voted to end partisan gerrymandering of legislative and congressional voting districts.

The Sheboygan County Board last month voted 20-4 for a resolution that “strongly urges the Wisconsin legislative and executive branches to work together to enact bipartisan legislation that would create a fair and nonpartisan process for drawing legislative and congressional redistricting plans, as well as promote more accountability and transparency in the redistricting process.”

Congratulations to Sheboygan County Board Chairman Thomas Wegner of Plymouth and the vast majority of his colleagues for becoming the 48th county in Wisconsin to approve such a measure. Every county should join this bipartisan, good-government campaign so that, following the 2020 census, fair maps can be drawn by a nonpartisan agency that’s insulated from politics and tasked with strict rules to ensure a neutral outcome.

“The fact that two-thirds of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, many of them ‘red,’ are now on record in support of ending partisan gerrymandering, demonstrates the deep, grassroots support across the state for fair maps and against rigged elections,” said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin.

He’s right. Sheboygan County favored the Republican in the last presidential election by 14 percentage points. Other conservative counties, such as Winnebago and Lincoln, have passed similar resolutions and allowed voters there to support nonpartisan redistricting in advisory referendums.

The same thing has occurred in liberal counties such as Dane, Eau Claire and La Crosse.

The U.S. Supreme Court this year left it up to the states to stop gerrymandering. In Wisconsin, that means the Legislature must pass Assembly Bill 303 (or its Senate companion, SB 288). AB 303 mirrors the Iowa model for fair maps. A nonpartisan state agency draws Iowa’s voting districts as compact and contiguous as possible, without favoring the incumbent politicians of either party. Then the Iowa Legislature approves or rejects the maps — without making changes. And if the Iowa Legislature votes the maps down, the nonpartisan agency drafts another version.

In Wisconsin, Republicans rigged voting districts after the 2010 census to help them keep control of the Legislature. In other states, such as Illinois, Democrats unfairly shaped the maps for their benefit.

The partisan games need to end so voters of all political persuasions are fairly represented and can hold their elected officials accountable.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, have shamelessly defended gerrymandering. But a growing number of their Republicans colleagues are joining Democrats in favoring a fair process following the 2020 census. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, also is an advocate for the Iowa model, which saves Iowa taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and produces more competitive seats.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the statewide Marquette Law School poll said they favored nonpartisan redistricting for Wisconsin. It’s time for Vos and Fitzgerald to respect the public’s wishes and allow fair elections.





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, September 24, 2019

Today is National Voter Registration Day!



For Release: Tuesday - September 24, 2019


A Reminder that Participation is Key to a Healthy Democracy

We urge Wisconsinites to take a few moments today to stop and think about what National Voter Registration Day actually means – and why now, more than ever, it's so important to take steps to honor this day.

A healthy democracy represents the views of the many, not the few.

In order for "the many" to have our say, we must have access to the the ballot box – and to do this, we must register to vote.

So make sure right now that you're registered to vote at your current address, and then ask friends, family members – anyone you come across – if they are registered, too.

To find out if you are registered to vote at your current address, go to MyVote.WI.gov and enter your name and date of birth. If you discover that you are not already registered to vote at your current residence, here are some ways you can register today:

Online. Eligible voters in Wisconsin who have a valid Wisconsin driver license or a Wisconsin DMV-issued ID can register online at MyVote.WI.gov up to 20 days before the election in which they are planning to vote.

By Mail. You can start your voter registration form online at MyVote.WI.gov – then print, sign and mail it to your municipal clerk along with a proof of residence (POR) document.

In your Municipal Clerk’s Office. You can also register in-person in your municipal clerk’s office up until the 5pm (or close of business) on the Friday before the election in which you are planning to vote. You'll need to bring a proof of residence document to complete your registration (this document can be shown electronically).

And again, don't forget to make sure that anyone you know who is eligible to vote is also registered.

Do you need help registering to vote – or more information about how to help others register?


Partner organizations – including our friends at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and many local Leagues – are holding voter registration events in areas across the state today and are happy to help! You can find National Voter Registration events 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 eligible voters must take to preserve and protect our democracy.





Contact:


Sandra Miller
Director of Information Services & Outreach
608/658-2109
smiller@commoncause.org

Jay Heck
Executive Director
608/256-2686 (o)
608/512-9363 (c)
jheck@commoncause.org


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Monday, September 9, 2019

The Battle Against Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin Progresses This Summer



For Release: Monday - September 9, 2019

Editorial Cartoon by Phil Hands of the Wisconsin State Journal - 6/30/19

Despite U.S. Supreme Court's Cowardly Decision
to "Punt," States Move Forward

Wisconsin Fair Maps "Summit" - November 9th in Marshfield

At the end of June, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who, together, have conspired to block redistricting reform and fair voting maps despite overwhelming citizens support for the past six years, must have thought they finally succeeded in strangling the increasingly powerful and growing citizen movement, working to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

A narrow, conservative, 5 to 4 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court issued a weak, cowardly and ill-conceived decision that said federal courts should not adjudicate, on the basis of excessive partisanship, the voting maps drawn by partisan legislators after the Census every ten years, even if the maps effectively disenfranchised a majority of voters in a legislative or congressional district in order to achieve a pre-ordained, partisan outcome.

Chief Justice John Roberts, the author of the decision, readily admitted that partisan gerrymandering was unfair and undemocratic, but chose to exclude the federal judiciary from weighing in to mollify the powerful right wing interests that had elevated him to his exalted position in 2005. But he did not preclude the states from pursuing an end to gerrymandering.

That June 27th decision ended a challenge to partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, Rucho V. Common Cause and by extension, a pending and revised Wisconsin challenge to partisan gerrymandering, Gill V. Whitford.

But Vos and Fitzgerald, as is so often the case, miscalculated the strength and commitment that Common Cause in Wisconsin members and thousands of Wisconsin citizens bring in demanding some semblance of fairness and a return to democracy to Wisconsin. As we said on July 1st, "With federal courts now out of the fight, it's entirely up to "We the People." And we explained why the U.S. Supreme Court decision did not mean redistricting reform is dead. Far from it.

In July, CC/WI Director Jay Heck and two University of Wisconsin faculty experts on this issue explained the implications of the Supreme Court's decision on redistricting reform efforts in Wisconsin on Wisconsin Eye's special program on the matter.

And, after the Supreme Court "indecision," CC/WI continued the effort to educate Wisconsin Citizens about the importance of action on the local level to mobilize citizens in support of ending partisan gerrymandering. CC/WI board chair Tim Cullen, CC/WI board member Kriss Marion and CC/WI Director Jay Heck spoke at a well attended meeting in Darlington in Lafayette County about this.

In mid July, "stand alone" redistricting reform legislation based on the Iowa system, which CC/WI united pro-reform legislators and groups behind in 2013, was formally introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature by State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and State Representative Robyn Vining (D-Waukesha) with CC/WI Chair and former State Senator Tim Cullen. What was 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 four: State Representatives Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay, Todd Novak of Dodgeville, Loren Oldenburg of Virocqua and Travis Tranel of Cuba City.

Clearly state legislators are hearing from their constituents, including many CC/WI Members. Keep on applying the pressure on your state legislators. It's working!

On September 3rd, a state court in North Carolina overturned the partisan voter maps drawn by Republicans in that state in 2011 in a lawsuit brought by Common Cause North Carolina. While the facts of the case and wording of the state constitution are different in Wisconsin, as is the composition of state courts here, there is renewed hope that a remedy to the hyper-partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin could be remedied through state court action, as well as legislatively. In any event we will not stop pursuing our fight to bring fair voting maps to Wisconsin – now or ever.
* * *

CC/WI is one of a number of state reform organizations that are participating in, and will present at a Fair Maps Summit to be held in Marshfield on Saturday, November 9th. Any and all Wisconsin citizens are invited to attend. Mark your calendars now and plan to be there if you can!




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, August 21, 2019

What College Students in Wisconsin Can Do NOW to be Ready to Vote in 2020



For Release: Wednesday - August 21, 2017


Students Should Prepare NOW to Vote in 2020

With just a couple of weeks left before students return to Wisconsin's public universities and private colleges, this is a good time for students to make sure they are ready to vote in Wisconsin.

The next opportunity to cast a ballot is coming up fast. Wisconsin's Spring Primary to whittle the field of candidates for a seat on our State Supreme Court is on February 18, 2020 – followed by the Spring Election and Presidential Primary on April 7, 2020.

If you value the integrity of our state's judicial system – and want to have a say in who might occupy the White House next year, mark your calendar with these two important dates, and then get ready to vote now so you're not scrambling later.

Go to this page on our website:

Three Things College Students Need to Do To Vote in Wisconsin

There, students will find straightforward information on registering to vote and voter photo ID.

If students have a Wisconsin driver's license or Department of Transportation-issued Wisconsin ID card, then they already have an ID acceptable for voting. But, if they don't have one of these forms of ID, we provide information on alternative IDs for voting, including if the standard student ID at their school can be used to vote – and if it cannot be used at the polls, how and where to get an acceptable school-issued "voter ID" if their school offers one.

As we have in past years, we will continually update this resource as new information is received or changes. So please check back often. And share this link widely with anyone you know who is attending a college, university or technical school in Wisconsin!

Get this done now, so you won't have to worry about it later.



Jay Heck
Executive Director
608/256-2686 (o)
608/512-9363 (c)
jheck@commoncause.org

Sandra Miller
Director of Information Services & Outreach
608/658-2109
smiller@commoncause.org

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...