Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Fair Price for Fair Maps

For release: Wednesday - February 28, 2024



Image: Tim Cullen


Wisconsin Taxpayers to Pay Just $64,000 for Fair Voting Maps After Doling Out More Than $3 Million for Unfair,  Partisan Gerrymandered Maps Over last 13 Years

On Monday, consultants hired by the Wisconsin Supreme Court submitted bills totaling about $128,000 for advice and analysis of state legislative voting maps submitted to the court in January after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional, partisan gerrymandered state voting maps passed by the Wisconsin Legislature during 2021-22 and imposed on Wisconsin by the previous Wisconsin Supreme Court majority.

Of the $128,000 to be paid to the consultants, about half that amount – $64,000 will come from Wisconsin taxpayers. The other half will be paid for by private funds.

The $64,000 being shouldered by taxpayers for fair, constitutional state legislative district maps stands in stark contrast to the more than $3 million taxpayers were forced to pay for to devise and defend for 13 years among the most secretive, unfair, uncompetitive, unconstitutional and most partisan gerrymandered voting maps enacted into law in the nation, first in 2011 and then again during 2021-22.

Among the maps submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in January that the consultants judged to be much fairer and more constitutional than the voting maps currently in place, are the maps submitted by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. Those maps were passed by the Wisconsin Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Evers on February 19th and will be in place for the 2024 elections.

Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Legislature, prompted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court's landmark December 22nd decision striking down the current state legislative voting maps, have come together in achieving a significant victory for the voters of Wisconsin and at a fraction of the financial cost to taxpayers that 13 years of unfair partisan gerrymandering has cost them.

"The savings to be realized by the end of unfair voting maps is just the icing on the cake for this new era of fairer and more representative elections that the recent enactment of new maps has set in motion," said Common Cause Wisconsin Board member and former State Senate Majority Leader Tim Cullen of Janesville. "Wisconsin taxpayers paid over $3 million for gerrymandered maps which greatly decreased the value their vote in 2011 and then again in 2021-22, but only $64,000 to help restore the value of their vote. That's real value and progress!" Cullen, a longtime leader and advocate for fair voting maps, added.

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

Jay Heck
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 Johnson St, Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
www.commoncausewisconsin.org

Read More...


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Polls are Open for the Spring Primary

For release: Tuesday - February 20, 2024



Image: Vote Here sign outside of polling place / Photo: E Grunze

Check to see if you have an Election Today!

School board, alderperson, mayor, judges, town board or city council, county board members - these are elected positions that could be on your ballot today. However, because there is not a statewide contest in the spring primary, not all voters have a primary ballot to cast today, February 20th. You can check if you have any candidates on your ballot today by reviewing your sample ballot on MyVote Wisconsin.


These contests are important because you have the opportunity to narrow the field of candidates for school board seats and other local offices on the April 2nd Spring Election ballot. These school and local government officials represent you and your neighbors – and the decisions they make have a direct and real impact on your local community. So please do not miss this chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box in a big way. Look over the information below to make sure you have what you need to vote in this primary election. Polls in Wisconsin are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


After you’ve checked MyVote to see if you have an election today and you know that you do, see if you are registered to vote at your current address by checking your voter status on MyVote. And, if you’re not registered (or your address or name has changed since you last voted), you can register to vote today at your polling location. Be sure to bring a proof of residence document (hard copy or electronic on your cell phone or tablet) when you vote today.


If you need to find out where to go to cast your ballot, visit the "Find My Polling Place" page on the Wisconsin Election Commission's My Vote Wisconsin website and type in your address.


If you want to see candidate information for those wanting to represent you, check vote411.org.


AND REMEMBER, every voter needs to bring an ID to the polls to vote. Bringit.wi.gov has complete information about what IDs you can use. Students attending any Wisconsin private and public universities, colleges, and technical colleges can see if their IDs can be used to vote at CCWI's student information page.


If you have any questions or have any problems at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-886-687-8683).


The year’s elections kick off today! Be ready to vote in each election this year - April 2, August 13, November 5 - by making a plan. Your vote. Your voice. Your right.


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

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

Read More...


Monday, February 19, 2024

Wisconsin Has Fair Legislative Voting Maps!

For release: Monday - February 19, 2024




Image: Governor speaking at the Fair Maps bill signing / Channel 3000 photo


Gov. Evers Signs Transformative Redistricting Measure into Law

Monday, February 19th is a federal holiday celebrated around the nation as President’s Day. Today, Wisconsinites also can begin celebrating new, far more fair and representative state legislative district voting maps that will be in effect for this year’s August primary and November general elections. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law the very same voting maps he submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court decided last December that if the Governor and Legislature came to an agreement on new voting maps to replace the unconstitutional district maps currently in place, then those agreed upon maps would become effective for 2024 and beyond.

This is a tremendous, well-earned and much deserved victory for the voters of Wisconsin. The new State Senate and Assembly maps that will now be in place for 2024 did not greatly please Democratic partisans or Republican partisans, to say the least. But they are fair and beneficial for the voters of Wisconsin. These new maps are constitutional and much better reflect the true and nearly even partisan preferences of Wisconsin voters. Wisconsin is among the most evenly and closely divided and contested 50/50 states in the nation.

“Fairer and more representative legislative districts in Wisconsin will lead not only to fairer and more representative election outcomes, but hopefully also to a legislature that works toward finding bipartisan consensus in addressing the concerns of our citizens,” said Common Cause Wisconsin Advisory Board Co-Chair David Deininger.

The new legislative district maps will provide far more competition in legislative elections in our state than we have experienced in many years. The quality of candidates as well as the power of policy prescriptions and ideas will once again determine the outcome of more elections instead of preordained outcomes derived from district lines devised and skewed for partisan advantage.

Wisconsinites from every corner and county in Wisconsin have organized and advocated for fair voting maps since 2011. That year, Wisconsin became one of the most egregiously gerrymandered states in the nation only to get worse in 2021-22. However, thousands of voters pressed to pass county resolutions and referenda as well as have contacted their legislators in support of redistricting reform and fairer maps. These actions elevated the matter of fair voting maps and the need for more competitive elections, and brought the issue to the attention of the Governor, the Legislature and to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

And now, finally, the citizens and voters of Wisconsin have prevailed.

The enactment of the Governor’s maps into law will likely put an end to the current litigation regarding legislative district maps. It will also provide stability and certainty for voters about their new state legislative voting districts through the 2024 elections, and hopefully, until the next decennial redistricting in 2031. This is not a permanent solution to the redistricting problem in Wisconsin, however. We still need to enact into law a nonpartisan redistricting process for 2031 that takes redistricting out of the hands of partisan elected officials and entrusts it to a nonpartisan entity. Wisconsin should never again have to experience the divisive political polarization that gerrymandering has caused in our state for over 13 years.

But for now, we celebrate and give our thanks to Gov. Evers, the Legislature, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and most importantly, to the active, engaged and dedicated citizens of Wisconsin who are what really made this significant victory possible for all of us!

"The people haven't won very often in the Capitol. They won on Monday," added immediate past chair of Co-Chair of Common Cause Wisconsin Tim Cullen, a former Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader.


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

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

Read More...


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Wisconsin Legislature Passes Governor's State Legislative District Voting Maps

For release: Wednesday - February 14, 2024


Image: Wisconsin Deserves Fair Maps


Evers Has Said He Will Sign Maps Legislation into Law Effective for 2024 Elections


Fairer and more representative state legislative district voting maps are finally on the verge of becoming a reality in Wisconsin.


The Wisconsin Legislature on Tuesday passed new and dramatically different state legislative voting maps to be in place for the 2024 elections. Gov. Tony Evers has indicated he will sign them into law. The maps are a significant improvement over the current, hyper partisan gerrymandered Republican maps currently in place.


The vote for passage of the maps was 18 to 14 in the State Senate and 63 to 33 in the State Assembly. The enactment into law of these maps may also end ongoing legal action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court which ruled on December 22, 2023 that the current maps were unconstitutional.


Thousands of Wisconsin citizens and activists have been involved and invested in the struggle for fair voting maps since 2011. They are the major reason this issue, so important to democracy, came to the attention of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. To those voters goes the credit and our gratitude for this important moment.


In their remarks before votes in the Assembly and State Senate, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) all but promised that there would be no further legal challenges from Republicans to the Democratic Governor's maps, assuring that these maps will be in place through November 2024 and beyond. While that is certainly positive, the actions of Vos and LeMahieu, not their words, will be what will matter.


The process by which Vos and LeMahieu brought the maps to the floor of the Legislature for a vote yesterday was done with virtually no input from the people most affected by this matter – the voters and citizens of Wisconsin. That underscores the need for Wisconsin to continue to work toward taking the process of legislative and congressional redistricting out of the hands of partisan politicians and, by 2031, entrusting it to a nonpartisan entity that makes it truly possible for voters to select their elected representatives instead of the inverse.


“I am excited for the citizens of Wisconsin who have had the value of their vote and their voice returned to them by the passage of this legislation,” said Common Cause Wisconsin (CC/WI) Co-Chair Penny Bernard Schaber, a former Democratic State Representative from Appleton. “The same voters are committed to working towards a permanent nonpartisan redistricting process that will ensure that their votes always have equal value,” Bernard Schaber added.


"We urge Gov. Evers to sign his voting maps passed by the Wisconsin Legislature into law. That will help bring stability and certainty to the fast-approaching 2024 election cycle and for the years ahead until the next decennial redistricting process occurs in 2031," said Jay Heck, the executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin (CC/WI) since 1996.


Here are links to the Governor’s state legislative voting maps:

Wisconsin State Assembly 

Wisconsin State Senate



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

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

Read More...


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Urgent Call to Action: TODAY Reject 11th Hour Surprise Attack by State Senate GOP to Circumvent WI Supreme Court on Fair Maps

For release: Tuesday - January 23, 2024



Image: People rally for Fair Maps


Attempt to Pass Flawed Redistricting Legislation to Maintain Extreme Partisan Advantage in State Senate Today


Note: This is a variation of the statement issued by the Fair Maps Coalition of Wisconsin of which CC/WI is a member.

 

The urgent need for an end to partisan gerrymandering and to implement fair and representative state legislative voter maps in Wisconsin was never made more obvious and evident than what occurred in the Capitol late yesterday (Monday afternoon) at 4 PM.

 

Without any advance notification or warning, State Senate Republicans scheduled an extremely partisan, deeply flawed measure to change the way in which redistricting is undertaken in Wisconsin. No Democratic legislator was contacted or informed of the action to suddenly bring to the floor of the State Senate the Assembly Bill 415. No consultation with any of the fair maps public interest groups including Common Cause Wisconsin was conducted and no discussion with the Governor or with any member of the public at large occurred.

 

If State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) was at all serious about supporting nonpartisan redistricting reform in Wisconsin, he and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) would sit down with Gov. Tony Evers, Assembly and State Senate Democrats and invite public input and negotiate for an agreement for fair and representative voting maps. None of that happened at all during 2023 and now, in 2024.

 

The fact that this legislative action was scheduled with less than a 24-hour notice and on the same day of the Governor's State of the State Address, reinforces that fact that the majority of Republican Legislators have not and are not acting in good faith. Not with the Governor, the Judiciary, and, most importantly, with the people they were elected and purport to represent.


The State Supreme Court, in their December 22nd decision, set out specific criteria for remedial maps that would meet state constitutional and federal voting rights requirements. The legislation and action by the Republican majority today seeks to circumvent that majority decision.

 

The unannounced and surprise action to bring this hyper partisan and fatally flawed redistricting measure to a vote in the State Senate today is a crass and misguided repudiation of the authority of the State Supreme Court. It is a desperate attempt by the Republican legislative majority to maintain their unrepresentative political power that has been sustained through 13 years of rigged, unfair and unconstitutional state legislative voting maps.

 

Any voting maps passed by the Legislature that do not meet the Court’s enunciated and constitutional criteria should be rejected by the Legislature--and, if passed--vetoed by the Governor. The State Supreme Court must continue to proceed to put into place remedial state legislative voting maps that are constitutional and best serve all of the citizens of Wisconsin.

 

Please contact your State Senator immediately today and urge them to vote against this desperate, 11th hour attempt to subvert the Wisconsin Supreme Court and to further undermine fair, representative democracy in Wisconsin!

 

Please take action now to help preserve the fight for fair voting maps in Wisconsin.

 

Forward!

Jay Heck


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

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

Read More...


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Your 2024 Election To-Do List in Ground Zero Wisconsin

For release: Thursday - January 18, 2024


Image: I have a Plan to Vote. Do You?


What you can do now to be ready to vote in the 2024 election


In every presidential election year in the 21st century, Wisconsin has been front and center as one of the most closely contested, pivotal “battle ground” states that play a major role in deciding who is elected President. 2024 is no exception and may be even more important than ever because the margins determining who wins and loses Wisconsin have been closer here than in any other state.

 

Every vote really does matter and makes a difference in “ground zero” Wisconsin. Did you know that in four of the six presidential elections in Wisconsin since the year 2000, the margin of victory was less than 26,000 votes out of more than three and a half million votes cast?

 

Again, every vote is important and matters in Wisconsin!

 

It’s vitally important to prepare sooner rather than later for this year’s elections. We have many candidates, offices, and ballot questions that need your focus, consideration and participation in determining how Wisconsin and the country is represented and in carrying out the will of the people. Here are some things you can take care of now to make it easier on yourself and to ensure your vote will be counted during 2024.

 

 

☑ Check MyVote.wi.gov to see when you vote next.

Some (but not all) voters in Wisconsin will have an election on February 20, 2024. This is the Spring Primary election for important local elections for offices like mayor; city, village, or town council; alder; county supervisor; or school board. You will have an election only if the number of candidates needs to be narrowed for the General Spring Election in April. To see if you have an election in February go to MyVote.wi.gov and enter your address information. You will be given the date of the next election that you can cast a ballot and if you vote in February you can view an image of what will be on your ballot.

 

 

☑ Request your absentee ballots - for the next election or for all elections in 2024.

The Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) encourages voters who choose to vote absentee by mail to request their ballot as soon as possible, whether online or by mail.

 

You can request your absentee ballot at MyVote.wi.gov now for your next election or for all of the elections in 2024. Making your request early helps your clerk to prepare and ready ballots for you and the voters in your community when the time comes to mail them out.

 

As always, when your ballot arrives, be sure to follow the instructions and fill out your ballot and return envelope correctly. Double check that all the information on the return envelope is complete and correct. Then mail it back to the clerk in the postage-paid envelope as soon as possible and well in advance of the election date in which you are participating.

 

 

☑ Check your voter status and information.

Be sure your information is correct and up to date, especially if you’ve moved since you last voted. You can even update your address information online in just a few minutes. All this can be done at MyVote.wi.gov.

 

 

☑ Educate yourself about important election issues.

Our friends with the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition are presenting a Voter Education Lunch and Learn Series this year with valuable information for all voters. The first two webinars are coming up. Sign language interpreters will be available. Click the links below to sign up.

 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 | 12:00 – 12:45 pm

Topics: Voter Registration and Absentee Voting

 

Monday, February 6, 2024 | 12:00 – 12:45 pm

Topics: Voting Rights and Why Local Elections Matter

 

Additionally, you can find voting information at the Common Cause Wisconsin website including resources for how to get assistance and answers for your election questions.

 

Important Information for College & University Students: Younger voters and those who are enrolled at a Wisconsin University, College, or Technical School can get the information they need to be able to vote from this Common Cause Wisconsin Student Resource Page. Please share the link with the student voters in your life. 

 

 

☑  Go above and beyond voting: Become a poll worker or election observer!

Your town, village, or city may be in need of poll workers for the Spring Elections. If you're looking for a way to make an important and meaningful impact in 2024, consider becoming a poll worker. It's one of the most important roles you can play to help ensure a free and fair election. Find your clerk and reach out to see if poll workers are needed in your municipality.

 

In 2024, The League of Women Voters once again is managing the important Election Observer Program throughout the state. They are currently recruiting Election Observer Volunteers for the April 2, 2024 Spring General Election.

 

Election observers make sure we have a fair election by monitoring the procedures at polling sites on Election Day. The volunteer shifts on Election Day for observers are flexible. Sign up to be an election observer even if you have a couple of hours to spend at the polls.

 

Once you sign up, The League of Women Voters will provide you with online training, a reporting form, a polling place assignment with flexible shifts, and an Election Day hotline number for questions or to report a problem.

Being an election observer is a vital way you can help maintain a strong democracy. Learn more and sign up to volunteer today! 

 

 

By taking a few moments now, to prepare for the upcoming February, April, August and November 2024 elections you can ensure that your vote will be counted and your voice will be heard. Wisconsin voters and our votes play a pivotal role, not only determining the outcome of Wisconsin elections, but in the nation at large. Embrace this important responsibility and stand up for democracy and for free and fair elections.

 

On Wisconsin! Forward!

Jay Heck


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

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

Read More...


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Fairer Voting Maps Process Moving Rapidly Forward in 2024

For release: Tuesday - January 9, 2024


Image: Entrance to the Wisconsin Supreme Court Chamber. Photo E Grunze


Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision to Overturn 2021-22 Redistricting Process


In what most Wisconsinites in the future will remember as a welcome holiday gift, the new, pro-democracy, pro-voter majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court on December 22nd issued a decisive, landmark decision that could likely result in state legislative districts and voting maps that far more accurately reflect the nearly even, 50/50 partisan divide that has long characterized Wisconsin.

 

The 4 to 3 vote by the court majority in Clarke v. W.E.C. declared the state legislative districts devised by Republicans during 2021-22 and ultimately selected by the previous majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to be unconstitutional and that new districts must be drawn and put into place for the 2024 elections.

 

New state legislative maps must be submitted to the court by Friday, January 12th, and responses and reactions to those maps are due by January 22nd. Experts selected by the court must file written reports about the maps that have been submitted and, if those maps don’t comply with the court’s order, those experts will submit their own maps. And then by February 8th, all responses to the expert reports must be submitted.

 

The court will then deliberate and choose the maps that will be in place for 2024 by March 15th, at the latest. Those maps must then be entered into the Wisconsin voter database, which will take time and a great deal of energy and effort to accomplish before the 2024 election calendar commences shortly after that date. Then, legislative candidates will begin circulating nomination papers in the newly redrawn districts beginning on April 15th.

 

The primary basis for the majority decision is that 50 of the 99 Assembly districts and 20 of the 33 State Senate districts devised by the Republican majority in 2021-22 contain non-contiguous territory in them – essentially non-connected “islands” in the districts which are in violation of the Wisconsin Constitution. That is a much greater degree of non-contiguousness in state legislative districts than had previously been thought to exist by the vast majority of observers. And this is clearly a solid and necessary rationale for new district maps to be drawn for 2024.

 

The fact that contiguity is a state requirement for redistricting and not a federal matter also means that the decision in Clarke v. W.E.C. is less likely to be accepted and reviewed on appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court according to most legal experts, contrary to the recent assertions by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos that the nation’s highest court will “have the last word” on the case. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court has been neither consistent nor predictable in recent years so what they may ultimately decide to do is unknown. But for now, it would seem that the majority opinion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court will prevail and that new voter maps will be implemented this year.

 

The court majority made it clear that their preference would be for the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to redraw the unconstitutional maps but also that they be not only constitutional but also that they must be maps that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers could agree to, approve and sign into law. But until such agreement occurs, the court has further ordered that “remedial” maps, drawn by redistricting experts it has hired, be put into place by the March 15th deadline.

 

Republican legislative leaders and pro-partisan gerrymandering conservative interest groups and their lawyers have appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to delay the issuance of new, constitutional voter maps, presumably until 2026 pleading “there isn’t time” for them to devise fairer, constitutional maps in time for the 2024 elections. But this transparently deceptive and less than truthful assertion will almost certainly be rejected by the court majority and the process will continue to move forward under the timetable set by the court and dictated by the election year calendar.

 

CC/WI is following the developments in this critically important legal and political matter very closely and, together with our allies and fair maps experts, will be analyzing the maps being submitted by many entities in the days and weeks ahead. We may even weigh in on what maps we feel are best suited and most fair for the voters of Wisconsin for 2024 and beyond.

 

For the first time since 2011 – nearly 13 years ago – fairer and constitutional state legislative district voting maps that more accurately reflect the will and political views of the voters of Wisconsin are in sight. We will continue to push for this fundamental reform not only for the critical 2024 elections but for future redistricting processes in 2031 and beyond.

 

On Wisconsin! Forward.

Jay Heck


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

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

Read More...