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



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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How to Vote by Absentee Ballot in November/And in the Special 7th C.D. Special Election on May 12th



For Release: Tuesday - May 5, 2020

Prepare Now How to Vote in 2020 in This Current Pandemic Environment

Consider Voting by Absentee Ballot This Fall & in the
Special Election May 12th in the 7th C.D.

Every election matters so here's how you can be prepared to vote in the remaining scheduled elections for 2020.

Those who live in the 7th Congressional District (portions of northern and central Wisconsin) will vote in a special election on Tuesday, May 12 to elect the member of the House of Representatives to replace the seat vacated by former U.S. Representative Sean Duffy. You can get details about this election from MyVote.wi.gov that include your polling location, absentee voting options, what is on your ballot, and information about photo ID needed to vote. You can also register to vote on Election Day. You must request a mailed absentee ballot by Thursday, May 7th and it must be returned to the clerk to be at your polling location to be counted by Election Day, May 12th.

Then all of Wisconsin will cast ballots in the fall elections scheduled for August 11, (the partisan primaries) and November 3, (the general election). These elections will determine federal and state representation.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on events scheduled later this year please consider requesting a mailed absentee ballot for both the August and November elections. Your request can be made today through MyVote.wi.gov so you are all set for the fall to receive both your August and November ballots by mail. Signing up is easy.


How to request an absentee mailed ballot


Go to MyVote.wi.gov and click on the "Vote Absentee" icon. Enter your name and birthdate. Click "Request an Absentee Ballot" and then select all the 2020 Elections. Finally, you'll have to upload an image of your acceptable ID for voting. (For example, your Wisconsin issued drivers license is an acceptable ID to vote. You can not simply take a picture of yourself and send that. Your request will be rejected without a clear picture of your acceptable photo ID.)

For more information about a photo ID for voting – and how to get a free ID if you don't have an ID acceptable for voting – see our downloadable voter ID fact sheet. Or visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's voter photo ID website: Bring It to the Ballot. If you do not have an acceptable photo ID for voting and need help getting one, contact this statewide Voter ID Hotline Numbers: 608/285-2141 or 414/882-8622.

If you are planning to vote in person at the polls, please take care. Follow social distancing guidelines for your and others' safety.


When you vote, you will need to present one of the acceptable forms of photo ID for voting pictured left.

(Click to enlarge image)

If you already have a Wisconsin driver license or one of the other acceptable forms of ID for voting, then you're "ID ready." Just remember to bring it with you when you head to your polling place.

What if you don't have an acceptable ID for voting on Election Day?
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.

Are you registered to vote?
Before you head out to the polls, check to see that you are registered to vote at your current address. If you are not, be sure to bring a proof of residence document (hard copy or electronic on your cell phone or tablet) when you go to your polling location so that you can register there.

Democracy requires our constant participation and engagement. Please take your opportunities to strengthen the health of democracy in our state. Get ready and vote!



Contact:


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

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703



Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org


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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Statement of Common Cause in Wisconsin Director Jay Heck on Election Day - April 7, 2020



Contact: Jay Heck | 608-512-9363

For Immediate Release: Tuesday - April 7, 2020


Common Cause in Wisconsin realizes that many voters have a difficult choice to make between voting in person and protecting their health. This choice was entirely avoidable, but our legislature refused to act to protect the safety of Wisconsinites.

For voters who choose to vote in person, we encourage everyone to follow the CDC guidelines on social distancing and to wear a mask to protect others. We also encourage voters who have an absentee ballot to mail them, ensuring they are postmarked with today’s date or deliver them to their designated polling place before 8 PM this evening. All absentee ballots must have the signature of a witness on the outside envelope in order to be counted. Voters who have questions about how to vote in today’s primaries can call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE. Media outlets are encouraged to include the nonpartisan hotline number in their stories, on social media, and on their websites as a resource for voters.

Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that has failed to step up and respond responsibly and safely to the current national health pandemic emergency. We have seven months until the general election and there is time to fix these issues before November to ensure we are protecting public health and the right to vote.

Wisconsin’s absentee ballot rules are no doubt disenfranchising voters. Governor Evers and the legislature must work together to resolve these issues before the November election so voters can cast their ballot in a safe, accessible, and fair way. Common Cause in Wisconsin and our allies will work with election officials to ensure we avoid this kind of chaos for November’s election.

BACKGROUND:
A sharply divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday blocked Wisconsin Governor Tony Ever's executive order to postpone the April 7th Spring election until June 9, or such date that the Governor and Legislature could agree upon in a legislative special session, called for today. The vote was 4 to 2. Also yesterday, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that absentee ballots must be postmarked by today, April 7th or have been delivered to polling places before 8 PM today to be counted. This effectively disenfranchises thousands of Wisconsin voters who have not yet received their absentee ballots even though they may have applied to receive them before last Friday's deadline to apply for such a ballot.

The effect of these two rulings is that the Wisconsin spring election will proceed today on April 7th.





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...


Monday, April 6, 2020

Statement of Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin on Governor's Executive Order to Postpone April 7th Election



Contact: Jay Heck, Executive Director, CC/WI | 608-512-9363

For Immediate Release: Monday - April 6, 2020

Common Cause in Wisconsin, the state's largest non-partisan citizens voting rights and reform organization, absolutely supports today's executive order issued by the Governor to postpone in-person voting for tomorrow's Spring election until June 9th, or until such date that the Wisconsin Legislature, meeting in special session, should decide in agreement with the Governor. The health and safety of the citizens of Wisconsin demand that polling places not be opened on April 7th for the purpose of in-person voting.

We vehemently urge that the Wisconsin Legislature place partisan political considerations aside and unite in support of protecting Wisconsin citizens and avert a public health catastrophe.




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...


Monday, February 24, 2020

Vos & Fitzgerald Untruthful About Legality of Ending Partisan Gerrymandering



For Release: Monday - February 24, 2020


Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald Have Been Less than Truthful About Ending
Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin

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 2013.

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 Governor Tony Ever’s recent 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 decide (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 percent 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 the Governor’s 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 expended 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 should finally rise up and insist upon having legislative leaders and a state legislature that is responsive and worthy of their trust and support. On April 7th voters in nine Wisconsin Counties (Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Pierce, Portage, Rock, St. Croix, Trempaleau, and Wood) will have the opportunity to vote for fair voting maps with a referendum question on their ballots. So too will voters in 14 municipalities in Oneida and Vilas Counties. Send Vos and Fitzgerald a message that voters should pick their elected representatives, rather than the politicians picking which voters they get to represent.

Jay Heck has been the executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, the state’s largest nonpartisan political reform advocacy organization, since 1996. 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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Monday, February 17, 2020

What You Need to Know to Vote in Tomorrow's Spring Primary Election



For Release: Monday - February 17, 2020


Wisconsinites will have their first opportunity in 2020 to make their voices heard at the ballot box tomorrow!

Why show up for a local election?

First and foremost, because every election matters.

Further, in the Tuesday, February 18th Spring Primary, voters will determine which two candidates will run for a seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court in the April 7th Spring election.

Voters in some municipalities and school districts around the state will also have the opportunity to narrow the field of candidates for school board seats and other local offices on their April 7th Spring Election ballot. These school and local government officials represent you and your neighbors – and the decisions they make can have a direct and profound impact on your local community.

And finally, eligible voters living in the 7th Congressional District (portions of northern and central Wisconsin) will determine which candidates will run for the seat in the House of Representatives vacated by former U.S. Representative Sean Duffy.

Keep in mind that – because Spring elections tend to have a much lower turnout – individual voters can actually have a far greater influence on the outcome of these elections.

So please do not miss this chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box in a big way. Look over the information below to make sure you have what you need to vote in this important primary election.

When you vote, you will need to present one of the acceptable forms of photo ID for voting pictured left.

(Click to enlarge image)

If you already have a Wisconsin driver license or one of the other acceptable forms of ID for voting, then you're "ID ready." Just remember to bring it with you when you head to your polling place!

What if you don't have an acceptable ID for voting on Election Day?


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 Tuesday OR bring your ID to your municipal clerk's office by 4:00 pm the Friday after the primary election (February 21st).

For more information about voter photo ID – and how to get a free ID if you don't have an ID acceptable for voting – see our downloadable voter ID fact sheet. Or visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's voter photo ID website: Bring It to the Ballot.

If you do not have an acceptable ID for voting and need help getting one, contact this statewide Voter ID Hotline #s: 608/285-2141 or 414/882-8622.

Are you a college student planning to use your student ID for voting?


If you do not have one of the other forms of photo ID pictured above, and you are a college student hoping to use your student ID and a proof of enrollment document as your "voter ID," look up your school NOW on the appropriate list linked below to see if your current student ID is an acceptable form of ID for voting. If your student ID cannot be used for voting, you can find out if a separate school-issued "voter photo ID" is available and how to get one.

University of WI – 4-Year Schools
University of WI – 2-Year Schools
WI Private Universities & Colleges
WI Technical Colleges


Are you registered to vote?


Before you head out to the polls, check to see that you are registered to vote at your current address. If you are not, be sure to bring a proof of residence document (hard copy or electronic on your cell phone or tablet) when you go to the polls on Tuesday so that you can register there.

Where is your polling place?


To find out where to go to cast your ballot, visit the "Find My Polling Place" page on the Wisconsin Election Commission's My Vote Wisconsin website and type in your address.

What's on your ballot?


Visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's "What's on My Ballot" page and type in your address to see a sample ballot.

Please don't sit out this chance to strengthen the health of democracy in our state. Get ready and go vote!





Contact:


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

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org


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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

In the News - January 2020




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