Thursday, August 31, 2023

In The News - August 2023

Republicans Target Wisconsin’s Election Chief for Removal, Fueled by Falsehoods
August 29, 2023 - Neil Vigdor, The New York Times

Election conspiracists testify at disputed confirmation hearing for WEC administrator
August 29, 2023 - Henry Redman, Wisconsin Examiner

WEC Administrator Reappointment Hearing
August 29, 2023 - Greg Stensland, Between the Lines, WFDL fm radio

Liberal Supreme Court justices make sweeping changes to enhance transparency and accountability
August 23, 2023 - Steve Schuster, Wisconsin Law Journal

Legal community weighs in on Supreme Court Justice Protasiewicz’s duty to recuse over gerrymandering cases
August 23, 2023 - Steve Schuster, Wisconsin Law Journal

Voting by college students in La Crosse could be affected by election lawsuit in county court
August 17, 2023 - Brad Williams, WIZM News La Crosse

The rigged Wisconsin voting lines lawsuit and impeaching Judge Janet with Wisconsin Common Cause’s Jay Heck
August 15, 2023 - Rick Solem, WIZM News La Crosse

They Cried Foul On The 2020 Election — Then Advised Wisconsin's Top Election Officials
August 12, 2023 - Matt Shuham Huffpost

Gerrymandering in Wisconsin cause voters to submit petition
August 3, 2023 - William Lien, WDIO News Duluth

Wisconsin Supreme Court gains liberal majority as Justice Janet Protasiewicz is sworn in
August 2, 2023 - Nick Vachon and Rebekah Sager, The American Independent


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Common Cause Wisconsin Strongly Supports Retaining Meagan Wolfe as Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator

For release: Tuesday - August 29, 2023

Testimony of Jay Heck -- Executive Director, Common Cause Wisconsin

Wisconsin Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections And Consumer Protection

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

In Support of Retaining Meagan Wolfe as Administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission

Senators Knodl, Spreitzer, Feyen, Smith and Quinn,

My name is Jay Heck and for the past 27 years I have had the privilege of serving as the executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) the state’s largest non-partisan political reform advocacy organizations with more than 16,000 members and activists residing in every county and corner of the state. We have been active in Wisconsin since our founding in 1970. CC/WI does not endorse candidates for partisan political office and have bipartisan leadership of our state Governing Board, co-chaired by former Republican State Representative (1987-94), retired Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge and former member of the now-defunct Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, David Deininger of Monroe, as well as by former Democratic State Representative (2009-15) Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton.

We strongly support fair and free elections in Wisconsin and in the nation and believe that more citizens, not fewer, participating in the voting process is not only beneficial for our democracy but that it is essential for the maintenance of freedom, liberty and for the continuation of the American experiment in self-government which has lasted for the past 234 years, but with no guarantees that it will continue in the years ahead. Voting is a muscle that must be continually exercised and strengthened or it will atrophy, grow weak and be overwhelmed by forces seeking to exert authoritarian control and to thwart the will of the majority. Voter suppression is the manifestation of that anti-American, anti-democratic impulse that seeks to take root and grow in Wisconsin and in the nation. We will never cease to resist voter suppression and those misguided few in number pushing it, but who are vocal and persistent in seeking to advance it.

Frankly, we believe this hearing being held ostensibly to attack and besmirch the good name and excellent reputation of Meagan Wolfe is unfortunate and unnecessary, if not illegitimate. We will leave it to the courts to determine the outcome of the current dispute over whether the Wisconsin State Senate can legally remove the Administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, absent a majority of 4 votes of the Commissioners to vote to reappoint and thereby send the appointment to the State Senate, or to this committee for consideration. But I do want to put what is going on here today in some context to help Wisconsinites better understand what is at stake and why this hearing and the attempt to remove the current WEC Administrator is so misguided, wrong and damaging to democracy in Wisconsin.

When I started with Common Cause Wisconsin in 1996, elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying was overseen and administered by the state elections and ethics boards, which were composed of and controlled by partisan appointments. But those entities, established in the 1970’s, failed the citizens of Wisconsin in spectacular fashion when they failed to detect, investigate and root out the corruption that engulfed this building and the Legislature in 2001-2002, that stemmed from illegal activity that began to permeate this building in the late 1990’s. Remember the infamous Legislative Caucus Scandal that resulted in the criminal felony charges for misconduct in public office of the top legislative leaders of both political parties and their removal from office? Many Wisconsinites likely do not now but let me remind you. In the State Senate – the Democratic State Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Chvala and the Democratic Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee and an announced candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General, Brian Burke were both charged with numerous felony charges, including extortion. And both served time in jail. In the Assembly – the Republican Speaker, Scott Jensen, the Assembly Majority Leader, Steve Foti and the Assistant Majority Leader, Bonnie Ladwig – were all charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes and barred from holding public office.

For those of us who experienced that traumatic and cataclysmic event, it will forever be seared in our memories how far and low Wisconsin state government had fallen, been disgraced and failed its citizens.

But the Wisconsin Legislature and the leaders of both parties and in both chambers responded in a positive and affirmative manner to the 2002 Legislative Caucus Scandal. It took some time to get done but in January of 2007 The Republican-controlled Assembly and the Democratic-controlled State Senate came together to establish the very effective and independent Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) to replace the discredited and ineffective State Elections and Ethics Boards. And the votes by Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to put the GAB in place was virtually unanimous in both legislative chambers.

You will recall that the GAB was run by six retired judges, who are about the closest thing to having non-partisan arbiters of election and ethics laws that can be achieved. For eight years, until 2015, the GAB was a national model for how elections and ethics in a state could and should be administered and it had one of the most outstanding and experienced administrators in the nation at the helm of the GAB staff – Kevin Kennedy – who had more than 30 years of expertise and excellence in election and campaign finance administration. But the GAB proved to be too effective and independent for many in this building, including then Governor Scott Walker and the majority party eviscerated and destroyed the GAB and pushed Kennedy out of state government after decades of dedicated, quality service. Why that all happened, we could spend an entire hearing on and someday should. But for now, suffice it to say that the majority party with only Republican votes created what we have today – the Wisconsin Elections and Ethics Commissions which have been in place for the past seven years.

But the tinkering and partisan micromanagement of elections in Wisconsin continued and in 2018, as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and then-State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald decided that the new WEC Administrator, Michael Haas, had to be removed – but not because he did anything wrong. Haas, like Kevin Kennedy before him, simply carried out and executed the decisions and directives made by the boards they served. But because Haas had had the temerity to run for the State Assembly some twenty-five years before as a Democratic candidate, the Republican leaders wanted him gone. And so, he too, was thrown under the bus. And then after all six WEC Commissioners, Republicans and Democrats alike, unanimously voted to appoint Meagan Wolfe as the new WEC Administrator in 2018, the Wisconsin State Senate also unanimously voted to confirm her in that role in 2019.

And so here we, or I should say you are here today, just four years later to now attempt to take down Meagan Wolfe, who by absolutely any objective and honest standard and analysis, has performed her role as WEC Administrator with the highest level of professionalism, competence, complete lack of favoritism or partisanship to either political party and who has successfully navigated this state and its voters through arguably the most difficult and trying circumstances in our 175-year history.

Meagan Wolfe began her distinguished career in election administration in 2011 and was charged with developing voter education and outreach for the state’s new voter photo ID law. Her voter outreach efforts included a photo ID public information and outreach campaign ( and establishing an elections agency presence and policy on social media. As the WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe has:

  • Strengthened Wisconsin's election cybersecurity infrastructure

  • Improved voting accessibility for voters with disabilities

  • Increased and improved training for election officials and clerks

  • Carried out the will of the commission on bipartisan votes

False and completely baseless claims about election administration in Wisconsin have proliferated since the 2020 Presidential election. The claims are entirely unproven and inaccurate and are based on the completely false premise that the WEC administrator can make decisions unilaterally. That is not and never has been the case. The administrator does not have a vote on the matters the six Commissioners consider. The administrator’s job is to implement the decisions made by the six-member bipartisan Commission.

Furthermore, Meagan Wolfe has the full confidence of, and is supported by the vast majority of Wisconsin’s “front-line” election officials – the municipal election clerks and the elected county clerks of both political parties.

Meagan Wolfe is one of the most highly skilled election administrators in the country, respected widely by election officials of both political parties in Wisconsin and throughout the nation. In a letter sent to Speaker Robin Vos and signed by approximately 50 election experts and officials from all over the country, including the top Republican legal counsel for the George W. Bush (in 2000 and 2004) and Mitt Romney for President (2012) campaigns, Ben Ginsberg, as well as by the former Republican Secretaries of State of Florida, Ken Detzer and of Kentucky, Trey Grayson, they said of the false claims and attacks made on Wolfe:

“We hope that you and your colleagues will speak out against this line of harassment and speak truth to all Wisconsin voters – that their interests are well-served by the current leadership of the WEC, and that they can be confident of the results, regardless of whether their candidate wins or loses. And no one is better situated to competently continue that tradition in Wisconsin than the WEC’s current Election Administrator, Meagan Wolfe.”

We are, at this moment, literally weeks away from the launch of the 2024 election cycle in Wisconsin. Our state, as it has been for every election in the 21st century, will be the focus of national attention as a key, closely contested battleground state. It is vitally and critically important that our state election is administered by someone with the experience, integrity and expertise to successfully address the challenges and difficulties that may ensue in the months ahead.

The very worst thing that could happen would be to replace the current WEC Administrator with someone, anyone who does not have the experience, integrity and expertise that Meagan Wolfe possesses and has repeatedly demonstrated over the past four years. The vast majority of Wisconsin’s voters and citizens would and will lose confidence and trust in our elections and in you, their elected representatives if you commit the monumental mistake of ousting Meagan Wolfe as the Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator.

Thank you.


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

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


Monday, August 7, 2023

The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Common Cause Wisconsin Join As Amici To Defend Student Voting Rights In Wisconsin

For release: Monday - August 7, 2023

  Image: Students voting

The amicus brief supports the rights of students to cast their votes from their campus addresses in La Crosse County

The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF), a leading nonpartisan nonprofit organization working to enfranchise and educate young people in the electoral process, and Common Cause Wisconsin, the state’s largest nonpartisan political reform advocacy organization with more than 16,000 members and activists in every county and corner of the state, joined as amici in a critical legal battle to protect the voting rights of students in Wisconsin. Yael Bromberg, Esq. of Bromberg Law LLC and Attorney Elizabeth M. Pierson of Law Forward filed the amicus brief on behalf of the organizations. 

The case, Werner v. Dankmeyer (No. 22-cv-555), centers around a challenge to students’ right to vote from their campus addresses in La Crosse County. The plaintiff in the case alleges that her equal protection rights were violated when students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse exercised their right to vote from their college address, a well-established federal and state constitutional right. The plaintiff is asking the Court to create radical barriers to college students voting in places where they live, work, and study. The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Common Cause Wisconsin strongly oppose the relief requested by the plaintiff, as it would violate the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, state constitutional law, and related statutes. 

“A healthy democracy must include the voices of young people; that means ensuring students across the country have access to the ballot where they live, work, and study. At AGF we believe campuses are places where young people develop the habits of active and lifelong citizenship,” says Rashawn Davis, Executive Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “Leveraging our expertise and resources through our national Student Vote Choice campaign, AGF is helping students access the ballot according to their preference and the rule of law. Whether voting in-person at accessible polling locations, by mail, or from their campus address, students have the right to choose how to vote, just as all other voters in a free democratic society.”

“Since 2011, when the Wisconsin Legislature enacted into law one of the most extreme and restrictive voter photo ID laws in the nation, this state has been one of the most difficult and burdensome for public and private college and university students, lacking a Wisconsin driver’s license, to be able to cast a ballot and have their vote counted,” says Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause Wisconsin. “This insidious attempt to further suppress the votes of legally qualified and eligible voters attending college or university in this state is not just unconstitutional, but it is profoundly unfair, undemocratic, and unconscionable as well.”

The amicus brief, filed on behalf of AGF and Common Cause Wisconsin, underscores the importance of safeguarding voting rights and ensuring equal access to the ballot box for all eligible citizens. The Democratic National Committee has also joined the case as an Intervenor-Defendant, further demonstrating the significance and implications of this issue for voting rights nationwide. The ability of students to vote from their campus addresses is not only an essential exercise of their democratic rights but also a crucial step in fostering civic engagement. In an inclusive democracy, every voice matters. Preventing students from voting from their campus addresses is a direct attack on their right to participate in the democratic process. 

“Ratified 52 years ago, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment established a protected class – youth – and a protected classification – age – with regard to ballot access,” says Yael Bromberg, Esq. of Bromberg Law LLC, a legal scholar of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, and Rutgers Law School lecturer. “A central tenet from the ratification process, which was embraced across partisan lines with near-unanimity, was that youth political participation is critical for democracy. As the amicus brief sets out, in the decade following ratification, various clerks across the nation endeavored to prevent this class of 11 million new voters from voting from their campus residence. Those cynical efforts were repeatedly stopped by state and federal courts. We should be celebrating increased youth voting rates in Wisconsin and across the nation, not erecting new obstacles.” 

“The Wisconsin Constitution offers strong protections of the right to vote, which extend to students and other young voters,” says Attorney Elizabeth M. Pierson of Law Forward. “Efforts to restrict youth voting rights violate Wisconsin’s most fundamental laws as well as our core democratic values. In Wisconsin as in America, we believe that every vote counts. Defending student and youth voters is core to Law Forward’s mission and we will keep working to preserve the constitutional freedom to vote.”

Amici thank Yael Bromberg, Esq. of Bromberg Law LLC and local counsel Elizabeth M. Pierson of Law Forward for their legal representation. 


Jay Heck, Common Cause Wisconsin

(608) 512-9363

Stephanie Miller, Law Forward

Yael Bromberg, Bromberg Law LLC

(212) 859-5083

About The Andrew Goodman Foundation

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training the next generation of leaders, engaging young voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a Freedom Summer volunteer and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered, alongside James Earl Chaney and Michael Schwerner, by the KKK in 1964 while registering Black Americans to vote in Mississippi. To learn more, visit

About Common Cause Wisconsin

Common Cause Wisconsin (CCWI) is the state’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen reform advocacy organization focusing on campaign finance, election and redistricting reform, and other issues concerning the promotion and maintenance of clean, open, and responsive government. Working directly with legislative leaders, political experts, other advocacy groups and the media, Common Cause Wisconsin holds their state government accountable, fighting to ensure that their elected officials serve the public interest, rather than powerful special interests. To learn more, visit

About Law Forward

Law Forward is a pro-democracy nonpartisan nonprofit organization using impact litigation, the administrative process, and public education to protect and advance Wisconsin’s fundamental democratic principles, and commitment to clean and open government. For more information, visit


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

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


Thursday, August 3, 2023

Common Cause Wisconsin Encouraged by Strong Legal Challenge to Long Standing Hyper Partisan Gerrymandered State Legislative Voting Maps

For release: Thursday - August 3, 2023

  Image: Wisconsin Supreme Court Chambers. Photo: J Heck

Wisconsin Supreme Court is Being Asked to Provide Injunctive Relief to Millions of State Voters in Time for the Upcoming 2024 Elections

On Wednesday morning, August 2nd, a day after Milwaukee Judge Janet Protaseiwicz was sworn in as Wisconsin’s most recent Supreme Court Justice, a long anticipated and expected legal action was filed by Law Forward and several other legal entities challenging the constitutionality of the 2021-22 state legislative redistricting process. The lawsuit alleges that the hyper partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts that occurred first in 2011 and then was repeated and even enhanced last year, violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s provisions guaranteeing equal protection under the law, free speech and association, a free government, required contiguity of districts and the separation of powers doctrine.

The legal action is being made on behalf of 19 individual Wisconsin citizens and voters from all around the state and seeks rapid relief from the Wisconsin Supreme Court in time for the upcoming 2024 state legislative elections. The action seeks that elections in all 33 State Senate districts and in all 99 State Assembly Districts would be conducted in 2024 under new, constitutional state legislative voting maps.

Common Cause Wisconsin (CC/WI) Co-Chair David Deininger of Monroe, a former Republican state representative, retired circuit court and Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge and a former long-time appointment to the now defunct Wisconsin Government Accountability Board said, “As currently drawn, Wisconsin’s state legislative district map is a crazy-quilt that unnecessarily divides municipalities and communities of interest throughout the state. I am hopeful that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will grant the petition and provide a timely and objective review of the petitioner’s claims.”

“The legal challenge by Law Forward and others on behalf of 19 Wisconsin voters to our state’s gerrymandered legislative districts is long overdue! It is time for each person’s vote in Wisconsin to have the same value as their neighbor’s vote. It is time for voters to elect their legislators rather than legislators choosing their voters,” said CC/WI Co-Chair Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton, who served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 2009 to 2015 as a Democrat.

“After 12 years of the most partisan and unfair redistricting process endured by the voters of any state in the nation, Wisconsinites can now, with this robust legal action, begin to see some light at the end of this long tunnel of darkness and despair that has enveloped our state due to unfair and unconstitutional representation in the Wisconsin Legislature,” said CC/WI executive director Jay Heck, who has held that position and been advocating for non-partisan redistricting and fair voting maps in Wisconsin since 1996.

See Law Forward's release and read the brief here.


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

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