Wednesday, August 5, 2020

What You Need to Know to Vote in August's Partisan Primary Election



For Release: Wednesday - August 5, 2020


Why vote in a primary election?

First and foremost, because every election matters.

Further, in the Tuesday, August 11th Partisan Primary, voters determine which candidates will be on the November 3rd ballot for local, state, and federal races. Depending on the race, the candidate that wins the primary, locks up the victory for that office in the primary election.

So please do not miss this chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box. You can vote via mail-in absentee ballot, in-person absentee ballot - “early voting,” or in-person on Election Day. Make a plan. Look over the information in this message to make sure you have what you need to vote in this important primary election, and share with others to help them be engaged voters.


The ballot: Wisconsin is an “open” primary state. Meaning, that Wisconsin does not require voters to register with a party and therefore, voters can choose their party preference on the ballot when they vote. BUT keep in mind when casting your partisan primary ballot, you only choose one party and you only vote for candidates of that party on this ballot. More information and details about this primary ballot can be found on our website.

Ways to vote: Mail-in Absentee Ballot

While you have until August 6th to request a mail-in ballot, we suggest you either vote on Election Day or "Early Vote" (see explanations below) because the likelihood of receiving and returning the ballot by the deadline are slim since we are less than a week from the election. However, if you have yet to return your completed ballot, do so NOW. It needs to be to your clerk by Election Day! If you can’t mail it in time, drop the ballot off at your polling place on Election Day or call your clerk about designated ballot dropboxes. https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk

Ways to Vote: In-person Absentee Ballot (Early Vote)

If you’d like to vote before Election Day in-person, check with your clerk on locations and times that are going on now through the end of this week. Casting your ballot early minimizes lines on Election Day and helps with social distancing and staying safe. Visit your municipal clerk’s website or call them to find out about opportunities to vote early. https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk

Ways to Vote: In-Person on Election Day

Prepare now if you’re going to vote at your polling place next week on Election Day, August 11. Be safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Make a plan. Here are some things to know:

  • Registration: You can register to vote on Election Day at your voting location. Find your polling place at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/FindMyPollingPlace. Being registered to vote means being registered at your current address. For the August 11th Election, if you moved July 14 or earlier, you must register at your new address. But if you move within 28 days of Election Day, which is July 15 or later, you must register and vote using your OLD address.
  • 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 at https://bringit.wi.gov to make sure you have what you need.

Information on the candidates:
Get to know who wants to represent you and which candidate best represents your values before you vote. Find candidate and ballot information from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin at Vote411.

Problems at the polls or casting your ballot?
Call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for support from nonpartisan election protection volunteers with questions or to report problems. Voters with disabilities have the right to an accessible polling place. This includes the right to use an accessible voting machine, to assistance marking a ballot, and to voting curbside. Call the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline for assistance: 1-844-347-8683. Both these phone lines are open now for you.

The strength and health of democracy in our communities, our state, our country depend on our active involvement. Get ready to do your part and go vote!




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, July 22, 2020

Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald have continually lied about partisan gerrymandering



For Release: Thursday - July 23, 2020


Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald have continually lied about partisan gerrymandering

By Jay Heck


Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have long opposed any and all attempts to bring even an iota of fairness and impartiality to the redistricting process of state legislative and congressional districts in Wisconsin.

Indeed, their fear of a fair system that would provide Wisconsin voters with legitimate competitive elections and genuine choices at election time is such that they have quashed any and all efforts to allow even a public hearing on the issue in the Wisconsin Legislature since 2009.

The very dirty, not-so secret truth is that both Vos and Fitzgerald have long depended on their absolute control of the redistricting process to enable each to enforce their iron-clad demand for allegiance and absolute obedience to their political and policy objectives and quash any dissent or independent thinking among rank and file legislators in their respective partisan caucuses.

That these legislative leaders fear and loathe a fair, nonpartisan redistricting process is understandable given their perceived need to exercise autocratic control of their legislative chambers. But for each of them to continually lie about the legality of gerrymandering reform is beyond outrageous and pathetic in the extreme.

Both leaders continually say that the widely supported “Iowa model” redistricting reform legislation that has been introduced, with bipartisan support, in each of the last four legislative sessions, is “unconstitutional.” But according to the Wisconsin Legislative Council and virtually every constitutional expert — such as University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor David Canon to name just one — the measure is fully compliant with Wisconsin’s Constitution. If Vos and Fitzgerald can prove their claim that the Iowa model legislation in unconstitutional, they should cite their legal sources. They never have.

Similarly, these long time overly partisan politicians and their underlings have said that Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order to establish a nonpartisan commission to draw state legislative and congressional districts following the 2020 decennial census is also unconstitutional. It most certainly is not. Continually stating that it is illegal does not make it so.

The Wisconsin Constitution gives the Wisconsin Legislature the power to approve the redrawn state legislative and congressional district maps every ten years, but it is silent on who must actually draw the maps. Indeed, under the current partisan process, Vos and Fitzgerald delegate the actual drawing of the maps to partisan experts (lawyers and legislative aides) whom they select to do their bidding. Then, both chambers of the Legislature are to pass the maps that Vos and Fitzgerald have masterminded for their own, maximum political self-interest.

The result is that only 10% of the state legislative districts and none of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts offer real choices to voters in the general election. The election results are preordained and rigged, with the outcome of those elections a foregone conclusion.

Under the Iowa model legislation and the governor’s nonpartisan commission proposal, the actual drawing of the voting maps is taken out of the hands of the partisan legislative leaders and their designated minions and instead, the new districts are drawn according to very strict nonpartisan criteria. This criteria includes keeping cities and towns and counties together to the extent possible. Currently 48 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are split among legislative districts for strictly partisan purposes and to keep Vos and Fitzgerald in control of the Legislature.

The nonpartisan criteria also include not utilizing past election results to draw new districts. And it does not even take into consideration the residency of incumbent legislators when drawing the new districts. Voters, not incumbent legislators take precedence in this objective procedure.

Under the Iowa model legislation and Gov. Evers’ proposal, the Legislature must vote up or down, without amendment, on the voting maps drawn according to the objectively nonpartisan and fair criteria. And unlike the hyper-partisan voting maps masterminded by Vos and Fitzgerald, there would be transparency and the ability to inspect and comment on the maps drawn by nonpartisan criteria. There would be no “secrecy oaths” like the ones the Republican legislative leaders forced Republican legislators to sign in 2011 to not disclose to the public the contents of their new, rigged districts.

Significantly, unlike the $4 million in taxpayer money that Vos and Fitzgerald have spent since 2011 to draw and protect their utterly uncompetitive, secret voting maps, the nonpartisan process would be of negligible cost to taxpayers. Instead, voters would have actual, genuine choices at election time where the results were not all predetermined.

Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald have held the voters of Wisconsin captive to their own narrow, selfish, partisan political interests for far too long. And they have continually misrepresented the truth about the legality and constitutionality of the strongly supported and nonpartisan antidote to partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

This is the year that Wisconsin citizens are rising up and insisting on having legislative leaders and a state legislature that is responsive and worthy of their trust and support. On April 7th voters in eleven Wisconsin Counties (Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oneida, Pierce, Portage, Rock, St. Croix, Trempaleau, Vilas and Wood) voted overwhelmingly for fair voting maps with a referendum question on their ballots. So, too, will voters in nine other Wisconsin counties (Adams, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Jefferson, Kenosha and Rusk) be able to vote for fair voting maps with a referendum question on their ballots this November. Send Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald the message that voters should be picking their elected representatives instead of those two continuing to select which voters get to vote for who.

For the past 22 years, Jay Heck has been the Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. He is the chief spokesperson and leads the organization in all facets of its operation. For more information call 608-256-2686 or go to www.commoncausewisconsin.org





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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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Common Cause in Wisconsin Signs onto Legal Brief Seeking Safe Voting for Citizens During Pandemic



For Release: Thursday - July 9, 2020


Common Cause in Wisconsin Signs onto Legal Brief Seeking Safe Voting for Citizens During Pandemic


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Thursday – July 9, 2020 

Contact: Jay Heck, Common Cause Wisconsin; 608-512-9363,  jheck@commoncause.org 
              Dean Strang, Strang Bradley, LLC; 608-535-1550, dean@strangbradley.com 

Madison, Wisconsin – Common Cause in Wisconsin (CCWI) yesterday filed an amicus brief in four cases under the caption Democratic National Committee v. Bostelmann. That first case is a lawsuit filed by the DNC in March in federal district court in Wisconsin seeking the extension of the deadline for return of absentee ballots and suspension of other voting requirements, such as the requirement to provide proof of residence and a witness signature to vote absentee—with respect to the state’s April primary and any other election held during the pandemic crisis -- including the November general election.
The CCWI brief, written by Madison lawyer Dean Strang, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Wednesday evening, July 8th and is aimed at ensuring that eligible Wisconsinites have a genuine opportunity to vote safely in the midst of the current COVID-19 Pandemic and have the ability to do so this November. The brief and the plaintiffs whom CC/WI supports ask the court to take a balanced consideration the following: 

  • The nation never has tried to conduct a presidential election during a pandemic. The November 1918 election, during the midst of the great influenza pandemic, was a midterm election. 
  • Because both the August and November 2020 elections are certain to be held during an ongoing public health crisis, given the persistence of the pandemic, absentee voting will be crucial if people (especially those with compromised immune systems or other risk factors, including just age) are to participate in our democracy. These four combined lawsuits (in the DNC v. Bostelmann case) seek, at their core, to make registration and absentee voting more reliable, secure, and safely accessible for all lawful voters. The cases are essentially the same ones filed before the April 7 election, but now seek prospective relief for the fall elections (and perhaps beyond). 
  • The April 7, 2020 Wisconsin elections, also conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, saw more than 964,000 votes cast by mail. The previous high had been the April 2016 election, with just over 170,000 mailed ballots (and that was an election with overall turnout of 2.1 million, compared to the 1.55 million in this past April election). Sensibly, then, Wisconsin voters demonstrated tremendous demand both to vote lawfully and to do their part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. In both ways, Wisconsin voters acted responsibly and with a sense of national duty. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, our April 7 election proved just how important the voter protections these cases seek really are. Only one form of relief that Judge William Conley granted before the April 7 election survived the cutbacks that the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court made to voter access and protection in the days immediately before that spring election: the higher courts let stand Judge Conley’s order requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission to count mailed absentee ballots that were postmarked on or before election day, but not received until after the election (the judge set the deadline for receipt of those ballots at April 13, six days after the election). What impact did that narrow judicial protection of voting rights have? On the WEC’s own statistics from the April 7, 2020 election, an additional 79,054 lawful Wisconsin voters had their votes counted—and none of those votes would have counted if the WEC had been allowed to do business as usual. For context, that number is higher than the population of every man, woman, and child in the City of Racine—the state’s fifth largest city. 
  • In spite of the success of even that narrow relief (which came at zero real cost of voter fraud, double-voting, or any other improper voting, based again on WEC statistics), the WEC and the other defendants want to eliminate even that small, successful measure of protection now, as coronavirus infections and deaths in Wisconsin soar far above where they were in April. The WEC and the other defendants also are opposing every other common-sense protection of the right to vote and the health of voters and other Wisconsinites in the upcoming fall elections. Common Cause in Wisconsin is proud to stand with this state’s lawful voters, and to advance the health both of our democracy and of the public that a democracy serves. 


### 

Common Cause in Wisconsin is the state's largest non-partisan citizen political reform advocacy organization with more than 7,700 members and activists. They have worked for honest, clean, open and accountable government and politics in Wisconsin since 1972 and are the state affiliate of national Common Cause.




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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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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