Monday, August 30, 2021

Sheboygan Area Activist Elected to Common Cause State Board

Monday - August 30, 2021


Newest CC/WI Board Member Mary Lynne Donohue

Mary Lynne Donohue, a long-time community activist and retired attorney from Sheboygan, was elected to the Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) State Governing Board at its quarterly meeting earlier this month. CC/WI is the state's largest non-partisan political reform advocacy organization with more than 12,000 active members and activists living in every corner of the state. Before retiring from her law practice, Donohue worked at Legal Services of NW Wisconsin, and in a general private practice focusing on municipal litigation, personal injury and Social Security disability work.
 
Donohue has long been active in high profile public policy issues and in support of redistricting reform and against partisan gerrymandering, in particular. She was a plaintiff in the 2018 Gill v. Whitford Wisconsin redistricting case challenging partisan gerrymandering which was heard (and remanded back to the state) by the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
"Partisan gerrymandering is at the root of the political polarization and dysfunction in Wisconsin today. Creating a non-partisan redistricting system, which takes partisan politicians out of the map drawing business and puts the voters of Wisconsin voters first, is the single most important political reform that can be accomplished for our state and the nation. I am eager to actively participate and be a part of Common Cause in Wisconsin's leadership and effective advocacy on this and other critical matters," Donohue said.
 
Donohue has varied and extensive community and political involvement and experience. She served on Sheboygan Common Council for nine years and is a former president of the Sheboygan Area School District Board of Education. She has also served on the Sheboygan Police and Fire Commission, and she was a candidate for the Wisconsin Assembly for the 26th Assembly District in 2020.
 
"Mary Lynne Donohue brings great expertise and passion to the current, high-profile battles in the state for voting rights and fair voting maps," said CC/WI Board member and former State Senator (1991-99) and State Representative (1975-1991) Cal Potter of Sheboygan Falls, who nominated Donohue to serve on the board. "Her energy and leadership will be of immense help in advancing these issues in Wisconsin," he concluded.
 
In addition to Donohue and Potter, the CC/WI State Governing Board is composed of: Tim Cullen of Janesville (Chair), Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton, David Deininger of Monroe, Michael Drew of Shorewood, Luke Fuszard of Middleton, Kristin Hansen of Waukesha, William Hotz of Brookfield, Kriss Marion of Blanchardville, David O. Martin of Muscoda, E. Michael McCann of Mequon, Robert Schweder of Princeton, Wanda Sloan of Beloit and Roger Utnehmer of Wausau.

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

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...


Monday, August 23, 2021

Common Cause Wisconsin Redistricting and Anti Gerrymandering Webinar Attracts Large Statewide Audience

Monday - August 23, 2021


Panelists Explore the 2021-22 Redistricting Process, Litigation and Legislative Solution During 90 Minute Program

More than 300 Wisconsinites registered for Common Cause Wisconsin's first statewide webinar on the current redistricting process and how to end partisan gerrymandering that was conducted last Tuesday evening with panelists and voters participating from every corner of the state. The event originated from Madison where CC/WI Director Jay Heck and CC/WI Voting & Elections Consultant Erin Grunze provided opening comments and introductions of the other panelists.
 
State Senator Jeff Smith of Eau Claire and State Representative Deb Andraca of Whitefish Bay, the lead legislative sponsors of a redistricting reform measure based on Iowa's 40-year-old non-partisan, effective redistricting process, detailed how their bipartisan measure would ensure that state legislative and congressional districts would be re-drawn by neutral civil servants rather than partisan legislators utilizing strict, non-partisan criteria that keep communities of interest intact and don't rely on past election results to gerrymander new districts. Smith, who served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 2007 to 2011 was elected to the State Senate in 2018 in one of the very few, even remotely competitive legislative districts. Andraca, a former elementary school teacher who defeated a long-time incumbent in 2020 likewise represents one of just a handful of competitive Assembly districts in the state. Both expressed optimism about the ultimate success of their legislation gaining eventual enactment, citing overwhelming public support for this non-partisan redistricting process for Wisconsin.
 
Elections law expert and attorney for Law Forward, Mel Barnes, laid out the legal environment and the critical role of state and federal courts in the current redistricting process, highlighting the substantial litigation that has occurred already since the release of U.S. Census information just last week. She also projected how the current, contentious redistricting process might emerge once the Legislature, the Governor and the courts have all weighed in.
 
CC/WI Board Member and former State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton spoke about how the critical importance that citizen activism and direct contact and sustained pressure by constituents with their state legislators has resulted in unprecedented public and legislative support for ending partisan gerrymandering and that this activity must continue if reform is to occur.
 
Excellent questions from audience members helped to further illustrate and explain how redistricting reform has become such a "front and center" critical public policy issue for Wisconsinites and that ending gerrymandering is a top priority for many of the state's voters.
 
 
And here are additional actions you can take to end gerrymandering in Wisconsin:
 
  • Directly contact your legislators in support of the redistricting reform bills and demand a hearing for this important legislation. You can do that in just a few clicks here.
 
  • Join the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition Legislative Lobby Day on Monday, September 27th at the Capitol in Madison to talk to legislators and encourage them to support AB 395 / SB 389  — the fair maps bills introduced by Sen. Smith and Rep. Andraca. This event will be both in-person and virtual, and the Coalition will host training sessions to make sure everyone feels comfortable to participate. Sign up and get more information here.
 
We cannot tolerate the drawing of state voting maps out of public sight and without public input to again benefit politicians in power. Thanks for doing your part to keep the light shining on the 2021-22 redistricting process 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...


Monday, August 16, 2021

Redistricting and Fair Voting Maps are Front and Center Right Now! Find out Why and More This Tuesday!

Monday - August 16, 2021



Still time to register for the Statewide Webinar on Redistricting & Ending Gerrymandering in Wisconsin

This past Thursday's release of U.S. Census nationwide data allows Wisconsin to begin the process of redistricting and drawing new voting district maps that will shape our elections, our public policy and our very lives for the next ten years.

While this process in Wisconsin has historically been conducted behind closed doors with little to no public input as in 2011, this year is our year to flip the script and ensure that the voices of everyone in our communities, particularly those of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities of color are very much included and are a central component of the redistricting equation.

When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, our voting maps are more likely to be truly representative and lead to much more secure, free, fair, and responsive elections for the next decade. And to better public policy for all of the people. That is why we are advocating for a process that prioritizes opportunities for meaningful public input, public access to the redistricting data used by mapmakers in Wisconsin, and a mapmaking process conducted openly rather than behind closed doors.

Fair voting maps mean the politicians must work to earn every vote in every corner of their district and that we the people, get to choose our elected representatives, not the other way around.

Common Cause Wisconsin (CC/WI) is hosting a webinar this Tuesday, August 17th, beginning promptly at 6:00 PM Central Time to discuss how we can end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, the reforms needed to ensure a fair and transparent process and what this year's redistricting process is shaping up to look like.

We hope you can join us! The event is free and open to the public. Please feel free to share the link so others can learn and be part of what we hope will be an interesting and informative discussion.

A panel of democracy reform leaders and elected officials, including State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and State Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay), will discuss the introduction of redistricting reform measures this session that put people before politicians and how to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin (Senate Bill 389 / Assembly Bill 395).

Additionally, Law Forward attorney Mel Barnes will present her legal perspective on the current developments in the battle for nonpartisan, transparent voting maps for Wisconsin and what the new Census data will mean. Current CC/WI Board Member and former State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton will discuss the progress and challenges of local and grassroots efforts in Wisconsin to make fair voting maps and redistricting reform a reality. I will moderate the discussion and CC/WI Voting & Elections Consultant Erin Grunze will oversee and conduct the webinar.
 
Here are the details:
What: Redistricting Reform Webinar Hosted by Common Cause Wisconsin
When: Tuesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT
Who: Expert panelists include:
 
  • Wisconsin State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire)
  • Wisconsin State Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay)
  • CC/WI Board Member & former Wisconsin State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton
  • Mel Barnes, Attorney, Law Forward
  • Jay Heck, Executive Director of CC/WI (since 1996!)
  • And You, the Voters of Wisconsin!

Where: Zoom webinar. Click here to register.

There is so much happening right now in this decade long fight to achieve fair voting maps: the release of the 2020 Census data, the real start of the 2021 redistricting process, the introduction and advancement of redistricting reform legislation and more. This is a unique opportunity for you to learn about and get a grasp of all that is at stake for the future of elections and public policy in Wisconsin. So, please join us.

We very much look forward to having you be with us this Tuesday evening! See you then.

All best to 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...


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Combatting Voter Suppression in Wisconsin is a Long Term Fight that We are Winning!

Thursday - August 12, 2021

photo from Governor Tony Evers Facebook page video - August 10, 2021

Citizen Activism is Effective in Countering the Current Assault on Democracy

On Tuesday morning in the Capitol, Wisconsinites who believe in preserving existing voting rights and expanding them to make it easier and simpler for more citizens to be able to vote, won an important victory when Gov. Tony Evers vetoed five hyper partisan anti-voter measures passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) was invited to be present at the event in the State Capitol building in Madison and we issued this strong statement in support of the Governor's action and in opposition to further voter suppression measures from the Legislature. And, for more on the Evers vetoes and what that means, go here

Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) has been in the forefront of opposition to these types of measures -- which are based on unfounded conspiracy theories, debunked lies and massive disinformation perpetrated and condoned by a political party which continues to allow itself to be dominated and controlled by former President Donald Trump, who still refuses to accept the fact that he was decisively defeated in November of 2020. We warned about this scorched-earth policy back in January: Beware of GOP Voting Restrictions in Wisconsin.

Throughout this Spring and early Summer, CC/WI spoke out against the more than 20 hyper partisan voter suppression measures that were introduced in the Legislature without any bipartisan support or in consultation with any of the non-partisan voting rights organizations in Wisconsin such as CC/WI. We issued several extensive calls to action for CC/WI members and activists to write to their Wisconsin State Representatives and State Senators expressing opposition to these anti-voter measures and they (you!) responded overwhelmingly! In total, Common Cause Wisconsin has generated 5094 letters to state legislators and an additional 605 letters to Gov. Evers urging his veto of these misguided, ill-conceived measures.

This is proof positive that citizen activism and contacting your elected officials is a critical element in this ongoing struggle to combat anti-democratic measures designed to reduce and restrict citizen participation in our elections. We need to sustain this elevated level of engagement in the months and years ahead.

In addition to the voter suppression legislation still snaking its way through the Legislature there is also conspiracy-theory inspired efforts to mount an "Arizona-style' forensic audit of the 2020 election by some GOP members of the Legislature led by Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls). She has even issued subpoenas of questionable legal validity to seize all the ballots of voters from Milwaukee and Brown Counties at a cost of likely hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds. Attorneys for the Wisconsin Legislature on Wednesday said that Brandtjen's subpoenas are not valid. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has said he opposes the Brandtjen forensic audits but he has devised his own 2020 witch hunt by hiring (yes, at taxpayer expense) former rightwing Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to act as a sort of "special prosecutor" of the 2020 election. Gableman is easily the most partisan, least impartial and least respected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice in state history. For more on this and on what CC/WI thinks is behind much of this, read this very recent article published in the Public News Service.

How best to combat the Brandjten and the Vos/Gablemen assaults on democracy and war on Wisconsin voters? You already know the answer to that question. Keep on doing what so many of you have been doing: taking an active role in combatting this disinformation and these lies by raising a little Hell. With your own state legislators, with legislative leaders, in letters to the editors of your papers, and with your family, friends and neighbors. If ever there was a time to get off the sidelines and get involved, it's now.

Thank you for being one of the most engaged and active state memberships in the nation. Your children, grandchildren, and all of us will thank you too.

On Wisconsin. Forward!
 
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, August 10, 2021

Gov. Evers Vetoes of Hyper Partisan Anti Voter Measures is Good News for Democracy

Tuesday – August 10, 2021
 
Tuesday morning, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed five hyper partisan, anti-voter measures strongly opposed by Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) that would have unnecessarily made voting even more difficult and burdensome in a state that already has in place one of the most extreme and restrictive voter photo ID laws in the nation. None of these five measures had bipartisan support nor were any devised in consultation with any of the nonpartisan voting rights organizations in Wisconsin, including CC/WI.

The Governor's veto of these measures is welcome and will help to preserve the ability of Wisconsinites to continue to have their legitimate and necessary voices to be heard at the ballot box. These vetoed measures include Senate Bill 203, Senate Bill 204, Senate Bill 205, Senate Bill 210 and Senate Bill 212.

These anti-democratic, voter suppression measures would have greatly restricted absentee voting in the state by greatly limiting who a voter can choose to have return their ballot and severely limit where those ballots can be returned. They prohibit altogether the perfectly legitimate, safe absentee ballot return events like "Democracy in the Park" in Madison which enabled thousands of voters to legally return their absentee ballots, safely to legally deputized voting officials. They would force disabled and elderly voters who are classified as "indefinitely confined" to reapply for that designation for each election instead of just once and make the process for being able to be so designated much more difficult and burdensome to qualify. They would unnecessarily require any voter who opts to vote by absentee ballot to reapply for each election to be able to do so instead of being able to designate that they wish that to be ongoing, as is the case now. They would make it a felony for a nursing or retirement home employee to assist an occupant to apply for or to complete an absentee ballot and they would make it a felony for an election clerk to lawfully "cure" an absentee ballot by simply adding the address of a witness who signed but may have inadvertently neglected to fill it in themselves. Had this been in place in 2020 several thousand absentee ballots would have disqualified needlessly. And finally, they would have reduced from eight to three feet the distance required for an election observer to stand at a polling place during a recount of an election which could allow for greater intimidation and the spreading of disease.

CC/WI strongly urges the Wisconsin Legislature to cease and desist in the formulation and passage of further partisan anti-voter measures which are being devised on the basis of conspiracy theories and lies about the conduct of the 2020 election. We congratulate Gov. Evers for vetoing these measures and trust that he will continue to do so in the future, as the need arises.
--------------------------

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...


Don't Miss This August 17th Statewide Webinar on Redistricting and Ending Gerrymandering in Wisconsin

Tuesday - August 10, 2021



Join Sen. Jeff Smith, Rep. Deb Andraca, Others & You, the Voters of Wisconsin!

There is just one week to go before for our special event on redistricting reform and ending gerrymandering in Wisconsin!

Common Cause Wisconsin is hosting a statewide webinar on the state’s redistricting process on Tuesday, August 17 beginning at 6:00 PM - Central Time. A panel of democracy reform leaders and elected officials, including State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and State Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay), will discuss the introduction of redistricting reform measures this session that put people before politicians and how to end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin (Senate Bill 389 / Assembly Bill 395). 

Additionally, Law Forward attorney Mel Barnes will present legal perspectives on the current happenings with regard to the battle for nonpartisan, transparent maps for Wisconsin and what the new Census data will mean and former State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton) will share the progress and challenges of the grassroots efforts in Wisconsin to make redistricting reform a reality.

Redistricting happens once a decade. It is the process the state legislature uses to draw new congressional and state legislative districts that reflect the changing population data from the previous year’s U.S. Census count. The process is supposed to ensure that even as our communities grow and change, every citizen will have equal representation in government.

In 2011, the last redistricting cycle, state legislators engaged in partisan gerrymandering, giving their party a vastly unfair electoral advantage. A recent study found that Wisconsin is the most gerrymandered state in the nation in the last 42 years! We can and must do much better than that in 2021-22!

What: Redistricting Reform Webinar Hosted by Common Cause Wisconsin

When: Tuesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT

Who: Expert panelists include:
  • Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire)
  • Wisconsin State Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay)
  • Former Wisconsin State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton)
  • Mel Barnes, Attorney, Law Forward

Where: Zoom webinar. Click here to register.

I hope you will join us and get up-to-date information on this crucial process that will impact our state, Wisconsinites, and the issues that are important to us over the next ten years. And please share this invitation with others. This event is free and open to the public.

In addition to joining us on August 17th, please also be sure to contact your own State Senator and you State Representative and demand that they support and co-sponsor Senate Bill 389/Assembly Bill 395.

Thanks to you, we have made enormous progress over the last decade to advance public support for the adoption of the "Iowa Model" non partisan redistricting system for Wisconsin and for fair voting maps. We can and will prevail in this critical fight for democracy and equal representation under the law!

We are so looking forward to seeing you on August 17th!

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...