Monday, December 5, 2022

The November 8th Election was Significant and Important…

For release: Monday - December 5, 2022

  Image: Entry to the Wisconsin Supreme Court Chamber at the Wisconsin Capitol 

But Now is Not the Time to Disengage from Wisconsin Politics

The “mid-term” elections in Wisconsin last month have been all but finalized and, apart from the extreme hyper partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts, the results demonstrated what Wisconsinites have known for years: we are an evenly divided, 50/50 state.

Gov. Tony Evers was re-elected with about 51 percent of the vote to Republican Tim Michel’s 49 percent and statewide elections for Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer were even closer. In the U.S. Senate election, incumbent G.O.P. Senator Ron Johnson very narrowly bested Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes by just over 27,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million cast, less than one percent.

Significantly, all of the runner-up contestants in these elections gracefully conceded to the winners and there has been no baseless conspiracy theory-driven election denialism in Wisconsin like that of former President Donald Trump, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman and others in Wisconsin as well as in several other states after the 2020 election.

Voter interest was robust and turnout was high for November 8th. More than 58 percent of Wisconsinites eligible to vote this year cast ballots, the second highest level of voting in a non-presidential year in the 21st Century, although slightly less than in 2018. This relatively high level of voter participation occurred even in the face of increased barriers to voting put in place in 2022. These included the elimination of secure voter drop boxes for the return of absentee ballots and the prohibition placed on election clerks correcting simple address mistakes or omissions for witnesses signing absentee ballot certificates. Voter turnout presumably would have been even higher absent these unnecessary barriers to voting.

Election poll workers and clerks did an outstanding job of conducting the 2022 elections which were, with a very few isolated and rare exceptions, carried out without problems, disruption, incidents or controversy. Wisconsinites voted the way all of us hoped they would – in sizable numbers and with determination and conviction. And they had faith in and accepted the outcome.

Lest we think our duty to democracy at the polling place is “done” for another two years, however, think again!

While it is true that 2024 will bring another Presidential election, as well as another U.S. Senate election in Wisconsin and for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Wisconsin Legislature, one of the most important and consequential elections in Wisconsin’s recent history is less than five months away. The eyes of the entire country will be focused on a single Wisconsin Supreme Court election that will determine the composition of the majority on that court and could have enormous implications for the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election of 2024.

Furthermore, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has largely ceded to state courts the power to determine state legislative redistricting, the Wisconsin Supreme Court could conceivably revisit the unprecedented partisan gerrymandering of the state’s Assembly and State Senate districts in 2021-22. The Wisconsin Supreme Court will also have enormous power to determine how elections are conducted, what health care decisions are made, how taxes and state and local funding decisions are determined and in almost every other conceivable policy affecting the lives of each and every Wisconsinite for years to come.

National attention will thus be concentrated on what happens here during the next four months leading up to the April 4th general election for a single seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Millions upon millions of dollars – most of it no doubt undisclosed, unregulated and from out of state – will pour into Wisconsin to try to influence state voters on the airwaves, in print media, on the internet, in the U.S. Mail and on the “ground” from now until April. The nearly complete deregulation and elimination of any sensible limits on and transparency of political money by the Wisconsin Legislature and then-Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 have set the stage for this massive upcoming assault on our senses and sanity for the next four months. It is critical that all of us engage and participate no matter how ugly things get.

This election is expected to be like most statewide elections in our state – very hotly contested and evenly divided. Four candidates have already jumped into the contest. The press has identified two as being conservatives and two as progressives. The field will be winnowed to the final two in the February 21st primary election. Voter turnout in Spring elections in Wisconsin is typically much lower than those in November. That means that every vote matters even more and is amplified in importance.

With so much at stake for Wisconsin and for the nation in the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, all of us have a duty to become involved and informed about the candidates, the issues and to be concerned about the outcome. Postpone your post-election rest and relaxation until April 5th. The future of our democracy depends on your active engagement in this matter in the months immediately ahead.


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

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

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