Saturday, September 30, 2023

In The News - September 2023

Gerrymandering's influence in Wisconsin
September 29, 2023 - Interview with Jay Heck, The Wisconsin Independent

Legislation to protect election workers moves forward at Wisconsin Capitol
September 26, 2023 - Anya van Wagtendonk, Wisconsin Public Radio

Conversation with Jay Heck on Wisconsin's Democracy, Voting Rights, and Fair Maps
September 18, 2023 - Attorney Mark Thomsen, The Paul Revere Show, Civic Media Radio

Wisconsin Republicans’ reversal on redistricting calls for adopting Iowa maps model
September 18, 2023 - Steven Walters, The Isthmus

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans pass sweeping redistricting reform, but likely veto awaits
September 15, 2023 - Scott Bauer, The AP

Wisconsin Republicans Are Taking Desperate Steps to Subvert Fair Elections in 2024
September 14, 2023 - Ari Berman, Mother Jones

Not so fast, Robin Vos. Hold a hearing on plan to end gerrymandering
September 14, 2023 - Editoral, Wisconsin State Journal editorial board

Republican redistricting proposal not quite what Democratic lawmakers asked for
September 14, 2023 - Mitchell Schmidt and Alexander Shur, The Wisconsin State Journal

Robin Vos’ maps gambit is desperate and deceitful
September 13, 2023 - Dan Shafer, The Recombobulation Area

Is Iowa-style redistricting in Wisconsin’s future?
September 13, 2023 - Andrew Bahl, The Cap Times

WI GOP Offers “Nonpartisan” Redistricting Bill That Still Lets Them Draw Maps
September 13, 2023 - Chris Walker, Truthout

SCOWIS, Fair Maps, and Impeachment Threats
September 13, 2023 - Greg Stensland, Between the Lines, WFDL fm radio

Assembly Republicans announce plans to introduce Iowa-style redistricting process
September 12, 2023 - Baylor Spears, Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates often speak out on hot topics. Only one faces impeachment threat
September 11, 2023 - Scott Bauer and Harm Venhuizen, The AP via CBS News MN

Republicans threaten to impeach newly elected Wisconsin supreme court judge
September 11, 2023 - Alice Herman, The Guardian

Wisconsin’s GOP Is Trying to Fire Key Players in the Next Election
September 8, 2023 - Kelly Weill, The Daily Beast

Wisconsin GOP threatens to impeach justice over donations, but conservatives also took party cash
September 7, 2023 - Scott Bauer and Harm Venhuizen, The AP via ABC News

Wisconsin GOP threatens to impeach justice over donations, but conservatives also took party cash
September 7, 2023 - Scott Bauer and Harm Venhuizen, The AP

Wisconsin’s skewed legislative maps could cost taxpayers millions in legal fees
September 6, 2023 - Josh Israel, The American Independent


Friday, September 22, 2023

Partisan Pseudo “Iowa Model” Redistricting Plan Rushed Through the Wisconsin Assembly on September 14th is Deeply Flawed and Unsupportable

For release: Friday - September 22, 2023

  Image: Photo of the Wisconsin  Assembly Chamber 

On Thursday evening, September 14th, less than 48 hours after unveiling a massive, comprehensive overhaul plan for redistricting of Wisconsin’s state legislative districts, majority Assembly Republicans passed their legislation – Assembly Bill 415. The bill was drafted entirely in secret, with no consultation or input from Democrats or public interest groups who have long advocated for redistricting reform.

Instead, the partisan pseudo “Iowa Model” redistricting legislation was suddenly announced on Tuesday afternoon, September 12th, without any prior notice or warning and taken directly to the Assembly floor 48 hours later. No committee referral or consideration, no public hearings, no consultation with Democrats or redistricting reform advocates or with any Wisconsin citizens whatsoever. After 12 years of steadfastly opposing any and every attempt to advance or even discuss the creation of a nonpartisan redistricting process for Wisconsin, the legislative Republicans introduced AB 415.

This Republican Iowa imitation measure falls short of the actual redistricting process that has been in place in Iowa for 43 years. It lacks the absolutely critical and necessary safeguards that were inserted into the Iowa Model legislation for Wisconsin introduced in 2019 and in 2021.These safeguards ensured that partisan manipulation included in AB 415 cannot prevail during the actual redistricting process. This proposal in its current form explicitly omits the safeguards. Instead, AB 415 allows the majority party in the legislature to subvert the adoption of non-partisan voting maps and pass unfair, gerrymandered partisan voting maps. Wisconsin voters would be subjected to the same gerrymandered and rigged maps the Wisconsin Legislature led by Republicans pushed through in 2011 and in 2021-22.


They could accomplish this by simply continuing to reject LRB-produced revisions of the voting maps until the January 31st deadline included in AB 415 as passed.

It is essential that any redistricting reform measure put forth by the legislature must:


  • require that redistricting plans and voting maps be produced solely with the nonpartisan criteria utilized by the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB),
  • and stipulate that any non-LRB originated redistricting plan can only pass in in both chambers of the Legislature if the amended legislation receives a 75 percent affirmative vote in each chamber.

In this way, broad bipartisan support and consensus that must be attained for any nonpartisan redistricting plan to work can be assured with trust and confidence of Wisconsin voters. A simple bipartisan majority, with as few as one vote from both political parties, is not acceptable.

Also, a redistricting plan must include a provision that requires redistricting be undertaken by the Wisconsin Supreme Court if after the January 31st deadline the Legislature and Governor fail to reach agreement on the plan. That must be explicitly spelled out in this legislation. It is a critical element in Iowa’s redistricting process and an important reason why it has worked well there since 1980. It serves as a powerful incentive for Iowa or any Legislature to reach bipartisan consensus on adopting nonpartisan voting maps.

There are other problems with the pseudo “reform” measure passed through the Assembly on September 14th. If there is real sincerity and interest by Speaker Vos and Assembly Republicans in enacting into law genuine nonpartisan redistricting for Wisconsin, then AB 415 must NOT be considered in the State Senate without using the proper legislative process. This must be done in the light of day. If that does not occur and the gerrymandered Senate just schedules and passes the legislation in its current form, as was done in the Assembly, Gov. Evers must and will veto this pseudo-reform measure.

Please pardon the voters of Wisconsin if they don’t believe that after 12 years of attacking, resisting and blocking any public discussion of redistricting reform in the State Capitol, that Assembly Republicans have all of a sudden “seen the light” and in two days they could craft, consider and pass a comprehensive reform measure that Wisconsinites can have confidence in and embrace.

Assembly and State Senate Republicans and their leadership know that comprehensive nonpartisan redistricting reform must be supported and embraced by all of those involved in and affected by the process. That requires a deliberative and open, transparent process and bipartisan consensus or it will not be tenable, sustainable or believable. Without that trust and buy in from all those affected, a major, once in a generation reform measure like this cannot succeed.

Perhaps that’s the objective of the architects of this plan – to kill redistricting reform altogether. We certainly hope that is not the case. But if it is, we will not be deterred.


Read and learn more about Assembly Bill 415 and the redistricting process in Wisconsin in these recent articles:



Recombabulation Area

Mother Jones

The Isthmus


You can also listen to this recent Civic Media interview with Jay Heck about the current redistricting struggle in Wisconsin that includes some context and history.


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

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


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Vital Information College and University Students in Wisconsin Need to Know to be Able to Vote!

For release: Tuesday - September 19, 2023

  Image: Get Ready to Vote 

Here's what you need to know to be a student voter in Wisconsin.

Students attending one of Wisconsin’s many fine public or private colleges and universities are back on campus and NOW is an excellent time for students to do a “democracy check” to make sure they are ready to vote in Wisconsin.

About a dozen years ago, the Wisconsin Legislature unwisely but deliberately erected some barriers to try to limit the participation of college and university students in Wisconsin elections. But with a little bit of planning using the information we are providing here, students can overcome these misguided obstacles and participate fully in our elections to have their voices heard and their votes counted!

Current Wisconsin law stipulates that all voters must have a voter-compliant form of photo identification that they must show at the polling place (or reproduced for inclusion with an absentee ballot request). Students can look up their school on the lists Common Cause Wisconsin and Campus Vote Project have compiled to see if the current student ID at their particular public, private, technical and community campuses in the state is an acceptable form of ID for voting.

Three Things College Students Need to Do To Vote in Wisconsin

Here, students will find straightforward information on how to register to vote and which photo IDs are eligible to cast a ballot in Wisconsin. 

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: The photo ID students are issued by their public or private institution of higher education is not necessarily usable to vote in Wisconsin. At some public and some private institutions, the student photo ID issued complies with state law and can be used to vote. But, at other public and private institutions, the photo ID issued to students does not comply with state law for voting and an alternative photo ID must be obtained in order to vote. It is important for students to find out and know now whether or not the photo ID issued by their public or private college or university in Wisconsin can be used when voting. Don't wait until 2024 to do this. 

As of September 2023, the standard student ID issued at only five of the University of Wisconsin's 13 four-year schools and at eight of the state's 30 private colleges can be used as a photo ID to vote. Technical and community colleges fare better with 12 of 17 campuses having standard student IDs that can be used to vote.

Look up your school’s information and IF you don't have a WI driver license or one of the other acceptable IDs, know your options!

Note: you can use a school-issued ID for voting that has expired. If you do present an expired student ID, you must also present (or display electronically) at the polling place a separate, current proof of enrollment document, such as an enrollment verification form, class schedule or tuition bill. If the ID is unexpired, then you do NOT need to present proof of current enrollment.

As we have in past years, we will continually update this resource page with new information or changes as they occur.

Please share this information widely with anyone you know who is attending a college, university, community or technical school in Wisconsin!

Preparing now to vote in Wisconsin will make your voter experience go much more smoothly when you cast your ballot. Be a full participant in our critically important elections and in our democracy. Wisconsin continues to be a very competitive and closely contested “battleground” state in which each and every vote matters.

This includes you and your vote. So be sure you know how to be ready to vote so your voice will be heard and your vote will be counted.

On Wisconsin!


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

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


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Common Cause Wisconsin Statement on “Iowa Model” Redistricting Reform Measure Unveiled by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

For release: Wednesday - September 13, 2023

  Image: Wisconsin Deserves Fair Maps

The Proposed Bill Lacks Nonpartisan Safeguards

After steadfastly opposing any and every attempt to reform the redistricting process in Wisconsin over at least the last 12 years, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is now attempting to ram through his version of reform legislation in less than two days? With no public input and with no buy in from others with whom a bipartisan consensus is essential for this reform process to be successful? This is simply not credible.


Common Cause Wisconsin has long championed and advocated for a nonpartisan redistricting process for Wisconsin modeled after our neighboring state of Iowa’s redistricting process that was adopted in 1980. That has been in place for the past 43 years and through five redistricting cycles with the strong support and confidence of legislators of both major political parties and most importantly, with the backing of the voters of Iowa. Common Cause Wisconsin has supported a version of this model to be implemented into Wisconsin with redistricting reform bills that have been introduced in the legislature over the past several years.


Iowa’s Constitution, like Wisconsin’s, stipulates that the legislature shall determine state legislative and congressional district boundaries. The Iowa model provides an excellent example for Wisconsin to emulate, with important modifications. A key addition was made to the proposed Wisconsin version of the Iowa Model redistricting legislation by reformers in 2019 and was also included in the 2021 version to address a major concern regarding redistricting in Wisconsin. However, these modifications are NOT included in the measure Vos unveiled, for the first time, Tuesday afternoon.


Essentially the modifications prevent manipulations of the redistricting process by the politicians. Common Cause Wisconsin has supported reform that prevents the party in control of the redistricting process from holding their power indefinitely by drawing their own districts to retain their seats. Vos’s proposal lacks the safeguards to prevent the party in the majority from rigging the process that has harmed Wisconsin voters and our desire for fair representation for too long.


In short, the key provision that is needed in any nonpartisan redistricting legislation is that:

If one or both legislative chambers twice vote down the unamended voting maps put forth by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau, then the Legislature may proceed to amend the map, with the caveat that any such amended version must acquire the support of three quarters of those voting in each legislative chamber.

Without this amendment to what Vos has initially proposed, it is entirely conceivable that the majority party could simply vote down the first two iterations of the voting maps devised by the LRB and then pass their own partisan plan by a simple majority.


We are also deeply concerned about the manner in which this serious redistricting reform measure is being advanced. Speaker Vos has chosen to unveil his proposal without any consultation with public interest organizations such as Common Cause Wisconsin and with no support from Democrats or from the Governor. In less than 48 hours, Vos scheduled a vote in the Wisconsin Assembly without a public hearing and without seeking to come to an agreement and consensus with other key participants. His rush to a vote does a vast disservice to the citizens and voters of Wisconsin who have long supported and advocated for a fair, transparent and nonpartisan redistricting process.


We respectfully request that Speaker Vos withdraw his version of the Iowa Model redistricting legislation from the Assembly calendar. He should then schedule meetings with Democratic Legislators, reform advocates and, most importantly, with the public in an open and transparent way that can result in a truly reformed redistricting process.


Wisconsin is ready and eager for real reform and calls on legislators to pass meaningful redistricting reform legislation that has the broad public and political support necessary for state legislative districts to reflect the true and fair representation that Wisconsin voters demand and deserve.


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

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