Thursday, March 31, 2022

In the News - March 2022

Jay Heck on the courts and redistricting maps.
March 30, 2022 - Stan Milam Show, WCLO 1230am / 92.7fm

Early Voting Is Underway for the April 5 Elections in Wisconsin. Here’s What You Need to Know.
March 23, 2022 - Keya Vakil, Up North News

Drop boxes the only election change
March 22, 2022 - Steven Walters, Beloit Daily News

Editorial | Justice Hagedorn declares his independence
March 9, 2022 - Editorial Board, The Cap Times

Jay Heck on the WI Supreme Court adopts governor's redistricting maps
March 4, 2022 - Between the Lines with Greg Stensland, WFDL Radio

A win for Democrats, but still work to do with Wisconsin’s legislative map-making process
March 4, 2022 - Rick Solem, WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM

Problems with the Gableman Report on Wisconsin Elections
March 3, 2022 - Tim Kowols, Door County Daily News


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Block Wisconsin Legislative Redistricting Plan May Require Only Minor Revision

Tuesday - March 29, 2022

Cartoon Illustration by Phil Hands - Wisconsin State Journal

Keep Pressuring the Legislature to Pass Redistricting Reform!

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rendered a surprising and disturbing decision, rejecting the state legislative redistricting plan adopted earlier this month by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It sent the plan back to Wisconsin for "reconsideration" and correction. It was somewhat unexpected because SCOTUS had recently rejected Republican legislative appeals to strike down redistricting plans adopted by the state supreme courts of North Carolina and Pennsylvania on the basis that such intervention would cause voter confusion by changing the voting maps so close to the upcoming 2022 elections. But SCOTUS did not apply that sensible reasoning to Wisconsin.

"It is unprecedented interference with Wisconsin's state maps after the administration of our elections (for 2022) has already begun." said Mel Barnes, a redistricting expert and attorney for Law Forward of the SCOTUS decision. The Wisconsin Elections Commission and local election clerks have already started preparations for this year's elections based on the state legislative and congressional districts approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The SCOTUS decision applies only to the state legislative (Assembly and State Senate) voting maps that had been accepted from Gov. Tony Evers and approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The congressional redistricting plan submitted by Evers and adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court were not affected by the SCOTUS ruling and cannot be changed. Those maps will be in effect for the 2022 election.

But the state legislative maps were struck down because SCOTUS determined that there was insufficient evidence cited in the Wisconsin Supreme Court-adopted plan to justify the creation of a seventh majority-black Assembly district in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee area, from the current six. Barnes and other legal experts have determined that the Wisconsin Supreme Court could possible remedy this situation and satisfy the concerns of SCOTUS by submitting in more detail, the research and legal rationale it utilized in determining compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the creation of an additional majority-minority Assembly district in Wisconsin. Or, it could possibly address SCOTUS concerns by revising from seven to six, the number of black-majority Assembly districts.

Such adjustments would not require the redrawing of the entire state legislative voting maps and the rest of the state maps could remain essentially the same with the revisions occurring only in the Milwaukee area in the majority minority districts in question. A similar, limited re-drawing of state Assembly maps occurred after the 2011 redistricting process in which two Assembly districts had to be revised but the remainder of the Assembly districts remained as majority-Republicans had drawn them.

Lawyers for the Republican legislative leadership and the even-more heavily G.O.P. gerrymandered plan passed by the Legislature (and vetoed by Gov. Evers) last year are asserting that SCOTUS should simply adopt their maps rather than those submitted by Gov. Evers and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That's just outrageous and ridiculous, even. The concerns put forward by SCOTUS could be adequately addressed by making limited revisions to the current legislative voting maps submitted by Evers and the Wisconsin Supreme Court majority.

The Wisconsin Supreme can and must act very quickly. This week, even, so that preparation for the August partisan primary and November general elections can proceed.

There are other alarming developments to be wary of as well. Three of the seven current members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court have recently signaled a willingness to consider "permitting" the Legislature to pass gerrymandered redistricting plans through a process involving the utilization of a joint resolution, which would not be subject to a gubernatorial veto. Such an action, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in 1964, would permit majority Republicans to ram through another hyper partisan gerrymander unencumbered. But for the time being, that is not an active concern.

What is an active consideration and very clear, regardless of how both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and SCOTUS ultimately rule in the weeks ahead, is that the push for redistricting reform must continue during the remainder of 2022. It needs to be a prominent issue in the 2022 election and the adoption of a non-partisan redistricting process based on the system our neighboring state of Iowa has had in place since 1980, must be a front and center priority for all of us now, more than ever.
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 last June based 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 this 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. While the Wisconsin Legislature has "adjourned" for the year to campaign for the 2022 elections, they could easily convene again in Extraordinary Session to consider and pass SB 389/AB 395. Demand that they do so!
Take less than a minute and do it now, even if you have before, because repeating your demand for reform is effective and necessary.
Thank you for your continued activism,
Jay Heck


Demand that the Legislature meet in Extraordinary Session to pass SB 389/AB 395 and make the redistricting reforms that Wisconsinites want and need. Write your state senator and representative a letter TODAY. (This form makes it simple and very easy to make your voice heard.)

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

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


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Early Voting Begins Today for Spring Election!

Tuesday - March 22, 2022

How to be Sure You're Ready to Vote On or Before April 5th

Two weeks from today is Election Day - April 5th. And that means in-person absentee voting (also known as "early voting") begins today!  Therefore, you don't need to wait until April 5th to vote with early voting options by mail and in-person balloting. Choose the option that is best for you and make sure you have a plan to vote. Then, help every voter you can to do the same.

Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address

Go to, and enter your name and date of birth to check your current voter registration status. You need to have lived at your current address for at least 28 days prior to Election Day in order to register to vote in that election district or ward.

If you find out that you are not already registered to vote at your current residence, you can still register to do so:

  • In your Municipal Clerk’s Office. You can register in-person in your municipal clerk’s office up until the close of business on the Friday before the election in which you are planning to vote. For this Spring election, the last day to register in your clerk's office is next Friday, April 1st. You'll need to bring a proof of residence document to complete your registration and this document can be shown electronically (the link to proof of residence documents is below). You can find your clerk's office information here.

  • At the Polls on Election Day. If you're unable to register by before the election, you can still register at your polling place on Election Day. You will need to present a proof of residence document when registering (again, this document can be shown electronically). If your Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card has your current address, that’s all you need.

Casting an absentee ballot / Early Voting

Municipalities can begin early voting today, March 22nd, and must conclude by April 3rd. To find out where and when you can cast an early, in-person absentee ballot in your city/town/village, contact your local municipal clerk’s officeIn-person early voting dates and times vary by municipality, and you can see your options at MyVote by clicking on "Vote Absentee" and filling in your information. Then click on the "Find my local absentee options" button to see your in-person early voting options. If you don't see any options, then contact your clerk for this information.

If you requested a mailed absentee ballot, return it as soon as possible by mail or by dropping it off at your clerk's office. Recently, rules for returning ballots have changed. Contact your clerk for specific information about ballot return. You can also track your ballot through the official ballot tracker on MyVoteIf you still need to return your ballot by mail, don't wait and do it today

If you haven't requested your absentee ballot by mail, it's best to choose another option to cast your ballot (in-person early vote or vote on Election Day). Your ballot needs to be returned to the clerk by Election Day, April 5th. Don't risk having your ballot not counted because it isn't returned in time, which could occur by making a late absentee ballot request. 

All you want to know about absentee ballots (from how to fill them out to how they are counted) can be found here in these short videos created by the Wisconsin Election Commission. 

 And don't forget your photo ID

If you already have a Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card, then you're "ID ready." Just remember to bring it with you when you head to your polling place!

Check which other IDs are valid to use to vote at the official site: Bring It to the Ballot. Here you can also learn how to obtain a free state ID card to vote and review other ID information.

Are you a college student voting in Wisconsin? Or do you know a student who wants to vote in Wisconsin?

Here is important information from the Common Cause Wisconsin website to share:

Three Things College Students Need to Do To Vote in Wisconsin

Most students already have a Wisconsin driver's license or one of the other acceptable forms of photo ID for voting.

Students who do not have one of the other forms of acceptable ID for voting should look up their college/university on the appropriate list linked below to see if their student ID can be used as a photo ID to vote or if their school offers a special photo ID card for voting which you may need to obtain:

Information on the candidates and your ballot

Get to know who wants to represent you and which candidate best represents your values before you vote. Find candidate and ballot information from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin at Vote411. Or take a look at your official ballot through MyVote.

Questions or Problems? There's assistance available!

Registering to vote, having the correct ID, finding your polling place...None of these things need to be intimidating or frightening, but they can be somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately, help is just a call or text away!

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 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, have assistance marking a ballot, and being able to vote curbside. Call the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline for assistance: 1-844-347-8683.

If you experience problems at the polls or have questions, there is help readily available! Call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for support from nonpartisan election protection volunteers with questions or to report problems.

Make a plan to be a voter. And then go vote! There is still time to prepare and be voter ready however you choose to vote in this Election. But please participate. Your vote is your voice and it must be utilized to keep our elections free and fair.

All best to you,

Jay Heck

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

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


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Urge Gov. Evers to Veto the Latest Batch of Voter Suppression Legislation!

Tuesday - March 8, 2022

Gov. Tony Evers vetoing anti-voter legislation in the Capitol - August, 2021

Your Voice is Vital to Help Preserve and Protect Fair and Free Elections in Wisconsin

You’re probably already aware that majority Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature passed yet another batch of shameful, anti-voter bills late in February. (Read Common Cause Wisconsin's testimony against the measures.)

They’re trying to keep alive their completely false and debunked conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 election in Wisconsin and to further deceive and inflame their most extreme supporters, and others who have responded to 2020's record voter turnout with hundreds of dangerous attacks on our right to vote -- restrictions particularly targeted at shutting out from our democracy voters of color, college and university students and even elderly and persons with disabilities. And, they are trying to make it more difficult for all of us to be able to vote.
Fortunately, we anticipate that Gov. Tony Evers will veto these anti-voter bills -- but he’s sure to come under harsh and unfounded criticism from the far-right, Trump-aligned forces behind this nationwide campaign of voter suppression and deception.
That’s why he needs to hear -- loudly and clearly from us -- that if he is willing to stick up for Wisconsin voters and defend our rights, we’ll have his back. Can you write to him today to thank him for defending our right to vote? Even if you have done this in the past on earlier voter suppression measures, it’s important that you weigh in against this latest assault on free and fair elections in our state. And it takes only a few minutes to get out this important message by using the Common Cause letter writing tool.
Elections in Wisconsin can always be improved. And there is opportunity to accomplish this constructively and responsibly. That process must start from the premise that the 2020 elections in Wisconsin were successfully and remarkably well conducted and during the worst public health crisis in a century! Election officials, clerks, and poll workers performed extraordinarily well under the unique and extenuating circumstances of 2020. We must not overlook and diminish the very significant fact that, according to experts in Wisconsin and across the nation, the 2020 election here is considered to be among the most securely run and administered in recent state history.
Yet, during this legislative session, partisan and unjustified legislation has been rammed through the Legislature focused on how to make voting more difficult for voters and making the administering of our elections needlessly complicated for clerks and election officials. Instead of drafting positive and forward-looking changes that empower voters and clear up ambiguities in current law, the bills’ authors created bad public policy based on the false narratives and lies that have been disproven about the 2020 election. Even the legislation that have some reasonable provisions for improving elections -- for example including actual verifiable audits of the vote or making improvements for the maintenance of voter lists -- are tied to measures that harm voters, diminish election integrity, and would continue to erode voter confidence in our elections and democracy.
Here are just a few of the shameful attacks on our voting rights headed to the Governor’s desk right now:
  • A measure to make it more difficult for all of us to vote safely by absentee ballot – both to be able to receive and qualify for such a ballot, and to be able to return them and have them counted in elections. This would effectively disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters.
  • New restrictions that specifically target elderly voters and voters with disabilities, making it much harder to vote for those living in a residential facility, and robbing these Wisconsinites of the respect and dignity that they deserve.
  • The prohibition of vital sources of funding for election officials to be able to conduct safe and sufficiently staffed elections while creating burdensome and costly new requirements for election officials and not providing state government funding to replace the resources being denied county, city and municipal election clerks and staff.
  • A partisan power grab by Republicans in the Legislature to gain complete control over the Wisconsin Elections Commission which would further inject partisan bias and party politics into nonpartisan election administration that is run by experts and professionals, including our local clerks who are supposed to serve all voters and not partisan politicians.
These bills are an outrageous and anti-democratic attack on the voting rights of all Wisconsinites. And that's why Gov. Evers needs to hear from us that we, the voters of Wisconsin, urge him to reject all of these: (SB 213, SB 935, SB 936, SB 938, SB 939, SB 940, SB 941, SB 942, SB 943)
Thank you for writing your letter today -- and for doing your part and raising your voice to fight back against these misguided, politically motivated attempts to take away our voting rights.

On Wisconsin!

All best to you,
Jay Heck

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

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


Friday, March 4, 2022

Common Cause Wisconsin Statement on Wisconsin Supreme Court State Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Decision

Friday - March 4, 2022

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last Fall that it would consider and adjudicate only those redistricting plans submitted by various entities that embodied a concept never before considered by a court that called for "least change" from the highly partisan gerrymandered maps Republicans enacted into law in 2011, the only question left was how partisan and favorable to the Republicans would the 2021-22 state legislative and congressional maps end up being.
The answer, Thursday, from a 4 to 3 majority on the court with the three progressive justices -- Ann Walsh BradleyRebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky joined by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, who wrote the opinion, was that the new voting maps will continue to be partisan and favorable to Republicans and are not dramatically different than in 2011 but they are less partisan than the Republican majority in the Wisconsin Legislature had been seeking. Hagedorn opined that the state legislative and congressional voting maps submitted by Governor Tony Evers provided the closest adherence to the "least change" principle adopted by the court's conservative majority in November and that further they complied with federal voting rights requirements better than the Republican maps and others submitted for consideration.
While the so-called principle of "least change" seems highly suspect as a sound or fair legal concept in which to judge redistricting plans, and while the court should have directly attacked the unfairness and partisanship of the 2011 maps which it instead sought largely to keep intact, the decision to select the maps submitted by the Governor over those submitted by Republican legislators was a step in the direction of greater fairness and less partisanship than had the Republican maps been selected, as the three dissenting conservative justices--Chief Justice Annette ZieglerPatience Roggensack and Rebecca Bradley had sought to do.
"This decision, while not at all ideal, at least provides Wisconsinites with the ability to be able to carry on the fight for a truly non-partisan redistricting process like our neighboring state of Iowa has had in place for over 40 years," said Common Cause Wisconsin Board Chair Tim Cullen, who served in the State Senate from 1975 to 1987, including as the Democratic Majority Leader, and then again from 2011 to 2015. “Redistricting could conceivably occur again before 2031 and it is imperative that the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor embrace and enact the Iowa model into law before that happens,” Cullen added.
"The fight for fair maps continues and the tremendous momentum and overwhelming popular support from citizens throughout the state that has occurred over the past ten years for non-partisan redistricting is only intensifying and growing larger with each passing day. This movement is not going away,” added Jay Heck, the Common Cause Wisconsin State Director since 1996.
"We will keep pushing until a fair voting maps process is finally adopted and firmly established in Wisconsin as it has been in Iowa," Cullen concluded.
It is possible that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision will be appealed to a federal court and even to the U.S. Supreme Court but for now, state legislative and congressional boundaries for the 2022 election will now be in place.

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

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