Monday, January 31, 2022

In The News - January 2022



Jay Heck on fair elections as good public policy.
January 24, 2022 - Stan Milam Show, WCLO 1230am / 92.7fm

Voting rights bill sputters in Congress
January 20, 2022 - Tim Kowols, Door County Daily News

Jay Heck: The war on voting is doomed to fail
January 14, 2022 - Jay Heck, Guest Column, Wisconsin State Journal

Jay Heck on the redistricting process and about Republican attacks on absentee ballot voting and on the Wisconsin Elections Commission
January 12, 2022 - Between the Lines with Greg Stensland, WFDL Radio

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Actions Everyone Can Take to Protect Free and Fair Elections, and Promote Fair Voting Maps

Monday - January 31, 2022




You Can Make a Difference By Being Active This Year 


The 2022 election season in Wisconsin has taken off already and is moving full speed ahead, so we want to share with you some exciting, upcoming opportunities for you to learn, explore, and help direct your citizen activism to preserve and protect our freedom to vote.

  • LOCAL ELECTIONS MATTER (webinar)

The Spring Elections are very important! Join our partners at the Disability Vote Coalition to learn why voting in local elections matters so much and why we need to vote in the Spring Elections. That event will occur on Wednesday, February 2nd (Groundhog Day!), from 6:00-7:15 PM. You will hear from a politically diverse panel of disability advocates, who have held local office, about what motivated them to run, and how local government makes an important difference in our lives.

Register for the Local Elections Matter webinar. ASL interpreters and captioning will be provided.


  • FAIR MAPS and NEXT STEPS (virtual, interactive training)
 
As we proceed into the next phases of the redistricting process, the Fair Maps Coalition partners want to make sure that our passionate volunteers and activists are equipped to keep our quest to end partisan gerrymandering moving forward. We must continue to hold our elected officials, candidates for public office, and our courts accountable and committed to delivering fair voting maps for all of Wisconsin.
 
If you’re "all in" for continuing to participate in this growing grass roots movement, to help organize with us, and to learn more about the next phases of the fight, register for this Fair Maps Activist Training now. One day-long, virtual training on Saturday, February 5th, followed by a half day "check-in" on Saturday, February 26th. Common Cause Wisconsin Consultant Erin Grunze will be facilitating a session of this training. Join her!
 

 
  • HOW ELECTIONS WORK IN WISCONSIN (webinar)
 
Want to protect our right to free and fair elections and our freedom to vote? Start by getting to know how Wisconsin elections really work from the people who know them best — municipal clerks and election administrators!
 
Election administrators throughout Wisconsin make decisions about how elections are run and that can determine how, when, and where you cast a ballot. On Wednesday, February 9th at 4:30 PM, join our friends at All Voting Is Local and a panel of Wisconsin election officials from across the state to get a "behind the scenes" look at what goes into planning an election — from recruiting poll workers to counting the votes. You will learn so much!
 


  • LOCAL VOLUNTEERS FOR CLERK ENGAGEMENT (in-person local volunteer)
 
We are looking for Wisconsinites like you to volunteer to meet and build positive relationships with your local municipal clerks. Sign up today if you are interested in strengthening free and fair elections by helping your local election officials and helping to make sure that every Wisconsin voter’s rights are protected.
 
Municipal clerks play a critically important role in election administration -- including determining safe and secure drop box locations for returning absentee ballots, managing poll workers, and making sure polling sites are accessible to everyone.
 
As a volunteer, you will:
 
  • Meet with your local clerk and build a positive, respectful relationship
  • Gather information about local election procedures
  • Identify any areas where the clerk may need citizen assistance
  • Advocate for improvements in election procedure
  • Report back to the Wisconsin Voting Rights Coalition with your findings
 
You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of election law or how to run an election. We'll provide you with training and support. We just need your dedication to democracy. Sign up to volunteer for the Clerk Engagement Project today!

 
  • PROTECT ELECTIONS BY OBSERVING POLLS (in-person volunteer)
 
Volunteers will help ensure we have fair elections by watching for signs of voter disenfranchisement and intimidation, and by monitoring the way Wisconsin's election laws and procedures are being applied. Even if you only have a couple hours to spare on Election Day, you can still sign up to be an election observer with the League of Women Voters Election Observation Program.
 
Being an election observer is a vital way you can help maintain the freedom to vote in our state. Learn more and sign up to volunteer to be a poll observer today for the April 5, 2022 election!
 
Once you sign up, you will be provided with everything you need to volunteer: online training, a reporting form, a polling place assignment with flexible shifts, and an Election Day hotline number if you have a question or need to report a problem.


  • GO VOTE in 2022! (vote by absentee ballot or on Election Day)

Elections are already underway in Wisconsin. Check to see if you have a primary election on February 15. (Not everyone in the state will, but those who do have a significant responsibility and opportunity to exercise their voting power.) Go to MyVote.wi.gov and enter your address information or contact your municipal clerk. You can find more voting information at the Common Cause Wisconsin website including resources for how to get assistance and answers for your election questions.

Stay involved. Stay encouraged. Stay connected! Your active engagement makes our democracy stronger and preserves our freedom to vote and have our voices heard.

Thanks, and all best to you,
Jay Heck


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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
 

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Your Vote Matters in Every 2022 Election

Thursday - January 20, 2022


Make a plan to vote in all the upcoming 2022 Elections
 
Elections start up in Wisconsin this Spring, even though it will most definitely still be winter. The Spring Primary is February 15, 2022. Not everyone in the state will have candidates to vote for during this primary. You can check to see if you have a primary election on February 15, by going to MyVote.wi.gov and entering your address information or by contacting your municipal clerk.
 
Make a plan to vote in every election in 2022.
 
Anyone can vote by absentee ballot in Wisconsin. When you request your ballot, you do not have to state any reason for wanting your absentee ballot mailed to you. You can even sign up to receive an absentee ballot for every election in 2022 with just one request. Request yours online: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee
 
If you see that you do not have a ballot to cast in the Spring Primary on February 15, then mark your calendar for the Spring General Election on April 5, 2022.
 
The Spring Elections may include nonpartisan local races such as City Council, Village President, School Board, Mayor, Alders, Judges, and County Executive. You have more power with your vote in local elections because there are fewer votes per race and you vote for issues that directly impact your communities. Local governments make decisions about public transit, schools, affordable housing, water quality, how millions of tax dollars are spent and more. They make decisions that directly affect us, our families, our friends, and our neighbors.
 
Keep these 2022 Election Dates handy:
  • Spring Primary: February 15 (voting only for some Wisconsinites, check MyVote.wi.gov for your status)
  • Spring Election: April 5 (voting for all Wisconsinites)
  • Fall Primary: August 9 (voting for all Wisconsinites)
  • Fall General Election: November 8 (voting for all Wisconsinites)
 
And remember, your plan to vote this year starts at MyVote.wi.gov where you can find all the information you need to prepare, including important dates, where your local polling place is, what’s on your ballot, how to register to vote, and your municipal clerk’s information.
 
If you need assistance, there are folks ready to help:
 
  • Call or text the WI Voter Helpline at 608-285-2141 and you will be connected to a nonpartisan person who can help answer all your voting questions. You can also request services such as getting assistance at the DMV to get an ID to vote or having someone witness your absentee ballot.
  • 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. Or email: info@disabilityvote.org. Additional online resources are also at the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition website.
  • If you experience problems at the polls or have questions, there is help. Call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for support from nonpartisan election protection volunteers with questions or to report any problems.
 
We hold the power at the ballot – All people deserve to have their voices heard and their communities represented. Be a voice for your community through the power of your vote. Make a plan to vote in every election in 2022.


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

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
 

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Wisconsin Voting Maps Before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday

Tuesday - January 18, 2022


(Tasos Katopodis | Getty Images)

 

 

 What Citizens Can Do

 

 

Late last year in November, majority Republicans rammed through the Wisconsin Legislature hyper partisan state legislative and congressional district voting maps in a redistricting process that was even more partisan and unfair than in 2011, when Wisconsin was the victim of the most partisan gerrymander in the nation.

 

Then, on November 30th, the narrow, conservative 4 to 3 majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a deeply flawed and completely misguided decision regarding the criteria it says it will utilize to determine what Wisconsin's state legislative and congressional district maps will look like for the next ten years. The 2021-22 redistricting process went to the state supreme court after Gov. Tony Evers, on November 18th, vetoed the hyper partisan, extremely gerrymandered voting maps that were rammed through the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature without a single Democratic vote earlier in November.

 

The G.O.P. maps, drawn in secret with almost no public input and without a single person (other than Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu) speaking or registering in support of them at the October 28th public hearing, are an updated version of the maps passed by Republicans in 2011 when, as mentioned before, they perpetrated the most extreme and partisan gerrymander in the nation that year.

 

The conservative majority Wisconsin Supreme Court "opinion" of November 30th was deeply flawed and illogically reasoned -- the work of ultra-right wing Justice Rebecca Bradley, whose completely fabricated concept of "least change" as the basis for adjudicating state legislative and congressional voting maps has no legitimate basis in either law or logic. Dissenting progressive Justice Rebecca Dallet pointed out that “no court in Wisconsin, state or federal, has ever adopted a least-change approach.” She went on to say, “The least-change principle is found nowhere in the Wisconsin or U.S. Constitutions.” In other words, Rebecca Bradley concocted a brand-new concept, based in fiction, purely to support extreme Republican- gerrymandered voting maps.

 

Bradley also completely misinterpreted a U.S. Supreme Court majority decision more than three years ago in Rucho v. Common Cause in which Chief Justice John Roberts basically "punted" partisan gerrymandering to the states because he didn't want federal courts playing such a major role in redistricting cases. But Bradley opined that the Wisconsin Supreme Court shouldn't consider extreme partisanship in adjudicating state legislative and congressional voting maps because partisanship was a legislative matter, not one that courts ought to consider. That directly contradicts what Roberts and the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled -- that it is precisely the province of state courts, like the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to judge, whether, a redistricting process is too partisan, unfair and/or unjust. Rebecca Bradley and the three other conservatives on the Wisconsin high court badly but deliberately botched this decision.

 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider redistricting proposals and hear oral arguments tomorrow, Wednesday 1/19, before issuing a final determination -- perhaps by the end of this month -- of how the state legislative and congressional voting maps will look for the 2022 election and beyond. Whether or not and to what extent federal courts may intervene in this matter isn't clear right now. But we shouldn't expect that a federal court will contradict the misguided Wisconsin Supreme Court's apparent intention to extend extreme partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin for another decade.

 

If you would like to view these oral arguments, they will commence at 9:00 AM tomorrow on Wisconsin Eye. Use this link (Schedule - WisconsinEye) and scroll down to Wednesday, January 19 - Wisconsin Supreme Court Oral Arguments and click the "Live" link at the end.

 

What can be done to counter the disgust and dismay that most Wisconsinites feel right now about what the gerrymandered Republican majority in the Wisconsin Legislature and now, the conservative activists on the Wisconsin Supreme Court have done to defy the will of the people and extend and cement into place their rigged voting maps for another ten years? The answer is clear and simple. We must redouble our effort and determination to change the current corrupt status quo.

 

Obviously, the current redistricting process in Wisconsin is completely in need of reform, as we have been advocating for years now. The antidote to this poisonous gerrymandering has long resided in our neighbor to the west, Iowa, which adopted a fair, non-partisan redistricting process way back in 1980. And, it was put into place by a Republican Governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature there.

 

Legislation, with bipartisan support, to establish a similar process in Wisconsin, has been introduced in the last seven legislative sessions and has not received so much as a public hearing since 2009! Here is what you can do: contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and demand that they support the bipartisan redistricting reform legislation introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature in June based on our neighboring state of Iowa's non-partisan redistricting process. Senate Bill 389 and Assembly Bill 395 is the "Iowa Model" legislation whose lead sponsors are State Sen. Jeff Smith and State Rep. Deb Andraca, who discussed the measures in the August 17th CC/WI webinar.

 

It is simple and very easy to use the tool Common Cause developed to write to both your State Senator and your State Representative and demand a public hearing and then a vote on SB 389 and AB 395 in the weeks ahead, before the 2022 election season kicks into high gear. Take less than a minute and do it now, even if you have before, because repeating your demand for reform is effective and necessary. You will feel better for doing so!




 

Our partners with the Fair Maps Coalition are organizing "in-person" rallies in front of county court houses throughout Wisconsin to be held simultaneously beginning at 12 Noon this coming Friday, January 21st to demonstrate public support for fair and impartial consideration of redistricting and fair voting maps before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. While CC/WI is not directly involved in these rallies, we wanted to make the information available to those of you who feel comfortable gathering safely (with masks and socially distanced) outside at various locales throughout the state to participate. For more information and/or to sign up for one of these rallies, go here.

 

A final decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on redistricting for 2022 is not the end of this process or this fight for fair voting maps. We will never cease to insist on a non-partisan redistricting system for Wisconsin until that objective has been fully realized. The struggle for fairness and justice almost always takes years and often decades before it is achieved. We are much further along the road toward our goal of ending partisan gerrymandering than we were just ten years ago. Rather than despairing or losing hope, instead take action! There is no "magic bullet" that is going to fix this. Just determination, hard work and perseverance. We're in it for the long haul and hope you will be too.

 

On Wisconsin!


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

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

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Republican War on Voting is Doomed to Fail Because it is Profoundly Un-American

Friday - January 14, 2022


(image by Phil Hands/Tribune Content Agency 2021)


 

By Jay Heck 

 

Note:  This Appeared as a Guest Editorial in the January 14, 2022 Wisconsin State Journal

 

I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s in the Midwest and East as the political junkie son of moderate Republican parents with a deep reverence and admiration for the country’s first Republican President and arguably its greatest chief executive, Abraham Lincoln. One of the things I was most passionate and proud about was the leadership and dedication the Republican Party had played in promoting democracy and extending the right to vote to many Americans throughout much of American history. 

 

It was Lincoln and the Republicans, of course, who led the effort to end slavery and extend voting rights to African Americans following the Civil War. Republicans, more than Democrats, led the way in the late 19th and early 20th century to extend the right to vote to women, culminating in the 1920 election for President when women, voting for the first time, overwhelmingly supported the G.O.P. candidate, Warren G. Harding of my native state of Ohio. Republicans provided significant and critical votes in Congress for passage of both the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. And virtually all Republicans joined Democrats to extend the vote to 18- to 21-year-olds in 1971, a measure signed into law by G.O.P. President Richard Nixon. 

 

But then, in the late 1970’s, the Republican Party began to significantly lose its way on voting rights. It was at that point that I abandoned the G.O.P. As the party strayed inexorably to the far right, it also moved into the darkness. It embraced the divisive and negative vision of Paul Weyrich of the ultra- conservative Heritage Foundation who, in 1980 infamously declared:   

 

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." 

 

Weyrich, a Wisconsin native sadly, was repudiating the very pro-voting, pro-democracy principles the Republican Party was founded on by abolitionists in Ripon Wisconsin in 1854. Instead of the open-armed, embracing political party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and, in Wisconsin of Robert M. La Follette, Warren Knowles and Lee Sherman Dreyfus – Republicans, instead, began to fear voters and voting and betraying their heritage and history, moved to make voting more difficult and restrictive. They began to target whole groups of citizens they viewed as not being politically supportive: urban dwellers, people of color, college, and university students and even people with disabilities. 

 

In 2011 Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature and their Ronald Reagan “wanna be” Governor, Scott Walker, rammed through and enacted into law the most extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law of any state in the country. Even states with long histories of voter suppression and disenfranchisement of people of color such as South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and others didn’t limit as many types of photo ID that could be utilized to vote as much as Wisconsin did. We became the most challenging state in the nation for a college or university student without a Wisconsin driver’s license in which to cast a vote. 

 

Since the voter photo ID law went into effect in 2016, thousands of Wisconsinites who had been able to vote for many years have been unable to do so because of difficulties associated with having to obtain one of the required forms of photo ID to be able to vote. That’s just wrong on every level. Some states like Michigan, which also has a photo ID law in place, permit voters unable to obtain a photo ID to still be able to vote by signing a sworn affidavit. But not so in Wisconsin, which is criminal. 

 

Making it more challenging to vote here didn’t end there. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump narrowly carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and won the Presidency. That was fair and fine according to Republicans. Four years later, Democrat Joe Biden narrowly carried Wisconsin by 20,682 votes and won the Presidency but suddenly, despite a statewide canvass and a recount confirming that margin, Republicans said the Biden victory was “in doubt” and there “may have been widespread fraud” (there wasn’t) and illegal or inaccurate counting of absentee ballots (again, no proof or evidence). Conspiracy theories sprang up and despite the filing of numerous pro-Trump lawsuits to reverse the result in Wisconsin in state and federal courts (all failed), Biden won Wisconsin decisively. 

 

To try to appease the rabid Trumpers, conservative radicals and Q-Anon wingnuts -- Wisconsin Republicans have fertilized the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent and that Biden’s more than 7 million popular vote margin nationally and 20,682 vote margin here was a fiction and that Wisconsin’s non-partisan state and local election clerks and officials diabolically cheated Trump out a second term as President. This was all patently untrue and Wisconsin Republican leaders know it. 

 

This charade and clown show has continued throughout 2021 highlighted by the involvement of the ridiculous “Pillow Man” Trump conspiracy theorist, Mike Lindell of Minnesota and the sham, open-ended investigation into fraud authorized by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and conducted by the least impartial and least respected former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice in state history, Michael Gableman, at a cost of nearly $700,000 to Wisconsin taxpayers. And then there are the outlandish and baseless allegations made against the Wisconsin Elections Commission for nursing home voting fraud leveled by the partisan, Trump-supporting Sherriff of Racine County, and his deputy – accusations even the Racine County District Attorney won’t touch. 

 

During 2021, numerous partisan voter suppression measures were introduced targeting absentee voting, and even voters with disabilities. Why? Because Republicans have cynically calculated that more Democrats than Republicans voted by absentee ballot in 2020 and by needlessly making it more difficult to vote that way, Republicans will outpoll Democrats in future elections. While all these outrageous and ill-conceived measures have passed in the Republican-controlled Legislature, with not a single Democratic vote, Gov. Tony Evers has wisely stepped forward and vetoed all of them. But while these anti-voter measures have absolutely no legitimacy, they serve as bait to ramp up the blood thirsty Trump base for the sole purpose of creating further false outrage for the upcoming 2022 election in Wisconsin and for the 2024 presidential election. 

 

Will this cynical strategy of voter suppression, lying about the integrity of our elections and continuing to attempt to erode public confidence in our election officials succeed for the Republicans who continue to tread down this dangerous path? It should not and, ultimately, will not. Why? Because it is so transparently undemocratic and so profoundly un-American. 

 

This country needs to have two or more vibrant political parties contesting elections and trying to win the battle of ideas, persuading voters that their ideas are best for their state and country. But when one of the major political parties doesn’t really believe in elections and in democracy then it follows that it can’t possibly win the hearts and minds of citizens at the ballot box because the outcome of free and fair elections doesn’t really matter to them. That sick mindset will in and of itself eventually destroy that party. If it ceases to believe in elections, then it will cease to be able to win them ever again. 

 

The great majority of Wisconsinites and Americans will never adopt that cynical and destructive vision for this state and this country. It’s up to Republicans to dramatically change direction and to again work to strengthen democracy instead of trying to destroy it.

  


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