Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Which Candidates for the Wisconsin Legislature Support Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform?

For release: Wednesday - July 10, 2024
Image: Wisconsin Deserves Fair Maps Beyond 2024

Common Cause Wisconsin/Other Statewide Fair Maps Advocates Challenge State Legislative Candidates in 2024 to Take This Pledge to Support Fair Voting Maps 

The upcoming August 13th partisan primary election in Wisconsin will determine who the nominees for the Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate will be for the upcoming November 5th general election. Currently, Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates for the Wisconsin Legislature are making their case to Wisconsin voters about where they stand on important issues.

During the 2023-24 Legislative Session, nonpartisan redistricting reform was a leading political reform issue for many citizens throughout Wisconsin and has been, with accelerating intensity every year since 2011. The fight for fair voting maps has also been increasingly and prominently covered in the Wisconsin and national media, including on social media. It is an important and pivotal issue in our state today.

Last December, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the constitutionality of the partisan, gerrymandered state legislative districts rammed into place by the majority in the Wisconsin Legislature during 2021-22 and vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers but imposed on Wisconsin regardless.

The Court ordered new state legislative voting maps to be submitted for its review in the event the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor could not come to a new agreement on constitutional maps. However, in February of this year the Legislature voted to pass and put into place the fairer, more competitive state legislative maps that Gov. Evers submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and on February 19th Gov. Evers signed those new maps into law in ACT 94 and they are now in effect for the upcoming 2024 election and beyond.

But the fairer voting maps embodied in ACT 94 will not be in place beyond 2031 after the next decennial Census when legislative districts must be reconfigured to reflect population changes and shifts in every state legislative and congressional district in the nation. Clearly, the partisan, secretive redistricting process currently in place in Wisconsin statutes must be changed to avoid a repeat of the disastrous gerrymandering that occurred first in 2011 and then again in 2021-22.

It is therefore vitally important that Wisconsin voters know, if legislative candidates are elected to the Wisconsin Assembly or State Senate this November, whether or not they support passing legislation during the upcoming 2025 legislative session that would effect this needed change. Specifically, will your candidates take and support this pledge to Wisconsin voters:

I support passing legislation during the 2025 legislative session and enacting into law the requirement that Wisconsin adopt an independent nonpartisan redistricting process to ensure that no political party can create state legislative or congressional voting districts to favor their own political party nor be able to gerrymander Wisconsin’s voting maps in the future.

As we have done during every state legislative election year since 2014, CC/WI wants to make it simple and easy for Wisconsin voters and media to be able to see which state legislative candidates support the nonpartisan redistricting reform pledge supported by voters all over Wisconsin by providing a continually updated list of those candidates on our website.

Any statewide or state legislative candidate (or their authorized proxy) who supports the fair maps pledge and would like to see their name listed on our site should contact CC/WI by email to Jay Heck: jheck@commoncause.org or, by letter to: Common Cause Wisconsin, P.O. Box 2597, Madison, WI 53701-2597.

Candidates must be proactive to have their names appear on this site! Even incumbent legislators running for re-election who co-sponsored redistricting reform legislation during the last legislative session and previously, must contact us to be on the list. Why? Because it demonstrates that they are paying attention and continue to support this reform issue. And, because it’s important for candidates for public office to take the initiative to inform voters about where they stand on important issues like ending partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

The list of candidates who inform us of their support for the nonpartisan redistricting pledge for Wisconsin will be linked on the Common Cause Wisconsin homepage and updated regularly until the August 13 primary election. The winning candidates in the primary will continue to appear on the list if they have indicated support for the pledge before it, or later until November 5th. As a reminder, voters are making requests for mailed absentee ballots for the August 13th primary election already and in person absentee voting takes place two weeks before Election Day. Candidates should contact CC/WI before voters begin casting their absentee ballots so that voters know where Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate candidates stand on this important issue.

All Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate candidates that have filed for candidacy with the Wisconsin Elections Commission for the August 13th partisan primary election are being contacted by CC/WI at their official campaign email address to inform them of the opportunity to indicate their support for redistricting reform.

Redistricting reform in Wisconsin is critical and necessary if we are ever to return to having a functional, less politically polarized state legislature that is responsive to the citizens of this state rather than to political bosses interested primarily in holding onto power. There is no question that an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites want and support nonpartisan redistricting reform. Now, let’s see which candidates of all political parties for the Wisconsin Legislature are willing to stand up and pledge support for it and for the voters of our state.

We will never stop fighting for fair voting maps and for a permanent, nonpartisan redistricting process for Wisconsin. Tell the state legislative candidates in your area to contact CC/WI and pledge their support for nonpartisan redistricting reform legislation in 2025.

Forward,

Jay Heck

CC/WI Executive Director

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Jay Heck
608/512-9363 (cell)

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

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Friday, July 5, 2024

Court’s Restoration of Ballot Drop Boxes Is a Victory for Voters and Democracy

For release: Friday - July 5, 2024


Image: Photo of a gavel

Decision Enables Many Wisconsinites to Better be Able to Return Absentee Ballots and Have Them Counted

The Wisconsin Supreme Court today issued an important voting rights decision that will be in effect for the August primary and November general election this year. The 4 to 3 decision in Priorities USA v. Wisconsin Elections Commission overturns a July 2022 decision by the court (also 4 to3) that prohibited the use of secure voter drop boxes, which had long been utilized throughout Wisconsin by voters to safely return absentee ballots in time to be counted in elections.

Common Cause Wisconsin (CC/WI), the state’s largest nonpartisan political reform advocacy organizations with more than 8,800 members and activists in every county and corner in Wisconsin, joined an amicus brief to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in May.

“Reinstating the use of secure ballot drop boxes is good for all of us in Wisconsin. It is especially good for individual voters who have mobility issues and time constraints that make it difficult for them to go into and out of a polling place or an election clerk’s office,” said Penny Bernard Schaber, the Co-Chair of CC/WI and a former Wisconsin State Representative from Appleton. “Secure ballot drop boxes are a necessary and safe way to return our ballots,” she added.

Voter drop boxes have been used since before 2016 and in 2020-21, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of drop boxes was expanded to 570 located in 66 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The expanded number of drop boxes, authorized by the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), offered voters a more convenient and safe way to ensure that their absentee ballots could be returned in time to be counted, in part because of the uncertainty of timely delivery of ballots by the U.S. Postal Service.

But in early 2022, conservatives attacked the use of secure drop boxes wrongly claiming that the WEC authorization of their use was not sufficient. On July 8, 2022 the Wisconsin Supreme Court created new barriers to voting, including prohibiting the voter drop boxes throughout the state in their narrow ruling in Teigen v. Wisconsin Election Commission. Secure voter drop boxes were not in use in Wisconsin during the November 2022 midterm elections or any elections since.

CC/WI disagreed with the 2022 court decision and we welcomed the opportunity to join in the effort to overturn it this year.

Voter drop boxes are required or broadly accessible in 29 states including neighboring Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. Voter drop boxes are also utilized, albeit with some limitations in Iowa, Indiana and in Ohio. With the new Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, our state can now join the enlightened majority of states that allow secure ballot drop boxes to enhance access to the polls.

This is a happy landmark day marking the restoration of voting rights in Wisconsin.

Forward!

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Jay Heck
608/512-9363 (cell)

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

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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Common Cause Wisconsin Urges Voters to Oppose Two Constitutional Amendments on August 13th Primary Ballot

For release: Wednesday - July 3, 2024


Image: Vote No!

Two highly partisan and potentially harmful measures have been rammed through the Wisconsin Legislature over the past several years. They are in the form of amendments to the state constitution. They will appear as questions on the August primary election ballot for approval or rejection by Wisconsin voters.

The ballot questions are intentionally confusing and seemingly harmless. But they are potentially harmful to citizens because they fundamentally change the process used to distribute federal funds in times of urgent need such as in a public health crisis or natural disaster when a quick response is required. These proposed changes will impact the balance of government, delay response time, and change the process for allocating federal money.

Here are the two constitutional amendment questions that will appear on the August 13th primary election ballot:

Question 1: “Delegation of appropriation power. Shall section 35 (1) of article IV of the constitution be created to provide that the legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how moneys shall be appropriated?”

Question 2: “Allocation of federal moneys. Shall section 35 (2) of article IV of the constitution be created to prohibit the governor from allocating any federal moneys the governor accepts on behalf of the state without the approval of the legislature by joint resolution or as provided by legislative rule?”

Both questions were approved by only Republican members of the Wisconsin Assembly and State Senate and were opposed by all Democratic legislators and by Gov. Tony EversMany public interest organizations as well as the Wisconsin Public Health Association and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments & Boards oppose these measures.

On June 27, 2024 the Common Cause Wisconsin State Governing Board, during its quarterly meeting in Madison, voted unanimously to have CC/WI go on record in opposition to both ballot questions and urge a “NO” vote on August 13th.

“During times of need or during emergencies it is important to respond appropriately and quickly. These amendments will make response times longer, potentially putting Wisconsinites in danger,” said Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton, the Chair of Common Cause Wisconsin. “It is inappropriate and unnecessary to change Wisconsin’s Constitution in this way. I urge citizens to vote “No” on both questions in the August Primary ballot,” she concluded.

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Jay Heck
608/512-9363 (cell)

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

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