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Find out what is happening. Press releases from the local league and selected releases from the state league are here!

 

Fair Maps Update

Irene Bugge

Polk County became a hub of activism for fair maps in 2021. This spring with a nonpartisan redistricting referendum on the April ballot, grassroots volunteers put up 150 purple and white “End Gerrymandering” lawn signs, mailed 2,000 vote-yes-for-the-referendum post cards, left messages or spoke directly to 700 voters and held five fair maps sign rallies on local street corners.

Voters went to the polls and with a solid majority — 61% — voted YES.

To date 56 out of 72 counties in Wisconsin, 83%, have passed similar advisory resolutions or referendums sending a strong, unified message to the State Legislature that Wisconsinites want fair, nonpartisan voting district maps in 2021 and an end to gerrymandering.

But because these resolutions and referendums are advisory or nonbinding, the legislators can choose to ignore what the majority of the people of Wisconsin want.

With the recent release of the 2020 census data and the redistricting process underway, we will soon find out if our representatives in the Legislature are listening.

The People’s Maps Commission 

One group that has been listening is the People’s Maps Commission. Established by Governor Evers last fall, the People’s Maps Commission is modeled on nonpartisan committees that have worked successfully in other states to draw fair voting district maps.

To date, the Commission has participated in more than 20 hours of public hearings. They have listened to feedback from over 1,000 Wisconsinites, representing 65 counties and 245 municipalities and learned from 18 redistricting experts. There have been 1,746 submissions to the Commission (portal.wisconsin-mapping.org/search).

Based on these listening sessions and submissions, the Commission created a ranked list of mapmaking criteria. These deliberations were also open to the public. You can watch their on-going working meetings on their YouTube Channel.

The top three criteria included an emphasis on “continuity and compactness,” preservation of “political (county and municipal) boundaries” and respect for “communities of interest.”  A community of interest is a group of people with shared concerns and interests that can be affected by legislation.

In an effort to draw fair impartial maps that represent all Wisconsinites, the Commission invited people to submit maps, in particular, community of interest maps.

In July, the local League of Women Voters and Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan Voting Districts co-sponsored “Mappy Hour” at Trap Rock Brewing Company in St. Croix Falls. Participants were assisted in using districtr software to draw maps that represented communities of interest in Polk County.  Twenty-eight maps were created that night.

As of the end of August, the Commission has received 796 community of interest maps along with 39 congressional district plans, 19 senate district plans and 27 assembly district plans through the People’s Maps Commission portal. They are seeking more.

The transparent, public-input focused process used by the People’s Maps Commission contrasts sharply with what happened in 2010, the last time voting district maps were redrawn. The entire redistricting process was done in secret with no public input. A political scientist from Oklahoma drew the maps. Sophisticated computer analysis of past voting data was used to rig or gerrymander the maps in favor of the majority party. The gerrymander was so extreme that the votes and voices of over half of Wisconsin’s citizens were diluted.

Next Steps

On August 12, the Legislature announced the opening of their own portal. They will be accepting map submissions from the public.

 

“We are excited to see the Legislature asking for public input,” said Jenelle Ludwig Krause, with WWNVD. “Thanks to the efforts of so many, our collective voices are beginning to be heard in Madison.”

 

“We are committed to help as many people as possible submit comments and maps to the People’s Maps Commission and the Legislative portals,” Krause added. “Wisconsinites deserve fair maps that allow us to choose representatives responsive to the needs of our communities.”

 

Attend a “Mappy” Hour in our area between September 25 and October 14. Details soon.

 

Meet with your legislators virtually to advocate for fair maps on Fair Maps Legislative Lobby Day, Monday, September 27. Register for this virtual event at bit.ly/FMC_LobbyReg.

 

Nonpartisan Redistricting (Fair Maps) Yes or No? Part 1

Irene Bugge

On April 6, voters in Polk County will find the following question on their ballot: “Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps?” What does this actually mean and why is it important? This article is the first installment of a series to educate voters about the nonbinding referendum question on the ballot and aid them in making an informed decision.

If you live in Polk County, you will soon see yard signs and bumper stickers that read: “Vote Yes: Nonpartisan Redistricting, End Gerrymandering NOW and People Powered Fair Maps.” You may also see members of the local League of Women Voters (LWV SCV), enthusiastically waving fair maps signs on street corners in your communities. If you are a Facebook or Instagram user, you might even see an invitation to attend a zoom class entitled “Gerrymandering 101.”

“We are hoping that Polk County voters will say ‘yes’ to nonpartisan redistricting,” said Carolyn Saunders, Chair of LWV SCV. “Five years ago, people’s eyes glazed over if you talked about gerrymandering, Things are really different today. Referendums like the one Polk County voters will see on the spring ballot are showing up all over Wisconsin, and the nation, and passing with solid majorities.”

What is nonpartisan redistricting? Why does it matter?

Every 10 years after the national census, states redraw the boundaries for their legislative and congressional voting-districts (state Assembly, state Senate and national House of Representatives). This process is called redistricting. The maps that are created determine how people are represented in state and federal elections for the next decade. All 50 states will be redrawing new maps this year based on the 2020 census data.

In Wisconsin, the state legislature authorizes the drawing of new voting district maps. These maps are vulnerable to gerrymandering by the political party in power at the time district boundaries are redrawn. Gerrymandered districts are often characterized by irregular shapes that do not follow county or municipal lines. The boundaries are drawn to dilute the voting power of the minority party by packing their voters together into a small number of districts or spreading out their numbers over many districts. Both Democrats and Republicans have used partisan redistricting to their advantage.

“At its core, gerrymandering is undemocratic. Representatives end up choosing their voters rather than voters choosing their representatives,” said Saunders. “Elected officials in ‘safe’ gerrymandered districts do not have to listen to their constituents from either party. They don’t even need to be civil to their colleagues on the other side because they won’t ever need their votes. Gerrymandering is all about politicians keeping power, not serving the people they represent.”

Gerrymandering is costly. In 2011, the Wisconsin voting-district maps were heavily gerrymandered. Court battles over these maps cost taxpayers over $3 million in legal fees. Over the past forty years, electoral district maps have ended up in court every time they have been redrawn. Many predict that the electoral district maps created in 2021 will again end up in court.

“Momentum is building toward using a fair, nonpartisan process to draw voting district maps in Wisconsin,” said Kim Gearin who, along with Lisa Erickson, first approached the Polk County Board of Supervisors about including the advisory nonpartisan redistricting referendum on the spring ballot. “We are pleased that voters in Polk County will be able voice their opinion on fair maps before new maps are adopted by the Wisconsin State Legislature.”

So far, 56 out of 72 counties in Wisconsin have taken a stand for fair maps by passing either nonbinding nonpartisan redistricting resolutions or referendums. Some have passed both. In January, the Polk County Board of Supervisors came out in favor of drawing fair voting- district maps when they passed a fair maps resolution.

“Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps?” Every time this question has been put to voters in Wisconsin, the majority has answered yes. So far there have been 28 such ballot initiatives in counties across the state. All 28 have passed. April 6 will be Polk County’s chance to weigh in on this vital issue.

Sourced by materials from: League of Women Voters, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan Voting Districts and Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition

Interested in attending webinar: “Gerrymandering 101” on March 9?  Go to: https://linktr.ee/Nonpartisan_Redistricting    Link takes you to Zoom registration as well as Facebook event.

Note to editor: Please attach this map to the article:  https://www.wisdc.org/images/images/redistricting/FairMapsCounties_ResRefs56-28-purple-muni-medium.jpg?fbclid=IwAR0BBYppJ3kIKLn9fFtcnPZoOlOcuohJDqZCPPO1_xSrUL8SGKXX7FgnHZU

I have also highlighted a quote. If there is space, I would also appreciate the highlighted quote enlarged and boxed for emphasis.

Nonpartisan Redistricting (Fair Maps) Yes or No? Part 2

Irene Bugge

 On April 6, voters in Polk County will find the following question on their ballot: “Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps?” What does this actually mean and why is it important? This article is the second installment of a series to educate voters about the non-binding referendum question on the ballot and aid them in making an informed decision.

What happened in 2011 when voting district maps were redrawn?

According to Dale Schultz and Tim Cullen, former state senators who served at the time, a computer programmer from Oklahoma drew the maps behind closed doors. The programmer used sophisticated analysis of past voting data to rig or gerrymander the maps in favor of the majority party.

“The maps were kept secret,” Schultz, the former Republican Majority Leader, said. “I was allowed to see how my district was drawn only if I swore that I would not share that information with anyone. I never got to see what the rest of the districts looked like before we voted to approve the maps.”

Advances in data analytics enabled the Republican map drawers to be precise in packing Democratic voters into fewer and fewer districts or spreading them out to dilute their power.

What has happened since the extreme gerrymander in 2011? 

Voters were disenfranchised. Races were not competitive and many candidates ran unopposed. Extreme partisanship prevailed. Expensive court battles over the maps wasted $4 million of taxpayer money that should have been used for roads, schools, broadband, and clean water.

In 2016 a federal court deemed the maps unconstitutional because they unfairly diluted the votes and the voices of over half of Wisconsin’s citizens. The state was ordered to redraw the maps. This decision was appealed to the US Supreme Court, which sent it back to the lower court. In a subsequent ruling on two different gerrymandering cases, one from Maryland (where the Democrats rigged the maps) and one from North Carolina (where the Republicans rigged the maps), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the states, not a federal court, must deal with the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

Where do things stand now?

Here in our state, the League of Women Voters, the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan Voting Districts, and other grassroots groups have championed a campaign to ban gerrymandering. Nearly 80% of counties in Wisconsin have passed nonpartisan redistricting resolutions or referendums like the one on the April 6 ballot in Polk County.

And last year, Gov. Tony Evers established the People’s Maps Commission, which has taken testimony from citizens all over the state about why Wisconsinites need fair maps.

This fall, the Census Bureau will deliver its data to the Legislature, which will redraw the maps. This is a crucial time to put pressure on our elected officials to draw those maps fairly.

“Each resolution passed by a county board or referendum passed by voters puts more pressure on the State legislature to use a fair, nonpartisan system for drawing maps,” says Carolyn Saunders, chair, LWV St. Croix Valley. “We would like to see the referendum on the spring ballot pass with 65-70% of voters saying ‘yes’ to nonpartisan redistricting. This would send a strong message to the State legislature that their constituents in Polk County expect them to use a fair system that gives representative voting power back to the people.”

On April 6th all Polk County voters will get a chance to voice their opinion on this issue. Voting “yes” will bring us closer to establishing a nonpartisan procedure in Wisconsin. Voting “no” will tell our legislators that we want them to continue rigging our legislative elections.

Sourced by materials from: League of Women Voters, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan Voting Districts, Wisconsin Farmers Union and Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition. 

 

Nonpartisan Redistricting (Fair Maps) Yes or No? Part 3

Irene Bugge

On April 6, voters in Polk County will find the following question on their ballot: “Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps?” This article is the third installment of a series to educate voters about the nonbinding referendum question.

Debunking Myths about Gerrymandering and Fair Maps    

With 80 percent of counties in Wisconsin passing resolutions or referendums in favor of nonpartisan redistricting, there is strong bipartisan support for ending gerrymandering in our state. Yet, as the spring election approaches, you may hear some naysayers circulating misleading myths about fair maps. Let’s address those first and then move on to an update about a possible path forward to restoring fairness to redistricting in Wisconsin and the importance of the referendum on the spring ballot.   

Myth #1: “It’s impossible to draw fair maps because everyone is biased.”

The gist of this argument is that everyone has a bias and it’s impossible to find people to draw maps who won’t impose their biases. That’s nonsense. Iowa solved this problem four decades ago. They gave career civil servants, who are sworn to be nonpartisan, the power to draw the maps. And to guard against any possible partisanship, Iowa’s law forbids the map drawers from using data on how people voted in any district when making the new maps. If they tried to do so, they would be prosecuted. Iowa has successfully used this system since 1980. They have produced fair maps with no lawsuits and no wasted taxpayer dollars for 40 years.

Myth #2: “The State Constitution requires the legislators to draw the maps. “

While our representatives do need to vote on electoral district maps, the Constitution does not say anything about the legislators needing to draw them personally. In 2011, the legislators in Wisconsin hired a political scientist from Oklahoma to draw the gerrymandered district maps based on past voting data. If a political scientist from Oklahoma can legally draw the maps, then career civil servants or a non-partisan commission can legally draw the maps.

Myth #3: “Legislators need to draw the district maps, not a nonpartisan commission, because they are the ones accountable to their constituents.”

When people live in a gerrymandered district, their legislator does not have to be accountable to their constituents because it’s essentially impossible for them to be voted out. Majority party legislators can do virtually anything or nothing and still be reelected, so they do not need to listen to their constituents in order to keep their jobs. 

Restoring Fairness to Redistricting: The People’s Maps Commission 

Over the past 40 years, voting district maps have ended up in court every time they have been redrawn in Wisconsin. In 2011 the maps were so heavily gerrymandered they were deemed unconstitutional by a federal court and cost tax payers $4 million in legal battles. The referendum on the ballot in Polk County asks the Wisconsin legislature to find a better way — to create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps.

Last year Governor Evers established the People’s Maps Commission. Modeled on nonpartisan commissions that have worked successfully in other states, it offers a possible path to restoring fairness to the redistricting process in our state.

This nine-member Commission is made up of people who live in Wisconsin. They are not elected officials, political party leaders, or lobbyists. To date, they have held seven public listening sessions (via zoom) across the state.

These sessions were designed to hear directly from experts about methods for drawing fair, nonpartisan maps and from the public. Wisconsinites who chose to give public testimony consistently said that they wanted fair maps, and an end to gerrymandering. Some shared how gerrymandering had directly and negatively impacted their lives.

This fall, after the 2020 census information is released, the Commission will use what they learned in these listening sessions and from maps submitted from communities across the state to draft new voting district maps. These will be shared with the legislature. Will these nonpartisan maps help politicians work together toward a fair solution to redistricting in Wisconsin? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you support fair maps, please go to the polls April 6 and vote ‘yes.’   

Sourced by materials from: League of Women Voters, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan

Voting Districts, Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition and Wisconsin Farmers Union 

For more information attend Fair Maps 101 – What is gerrymandering? Facebook event, 7-8pm on March 9 and March 18. Register at linktr.ee/Nonpartisan_Redistricting.

 

Nonpartisan Redistricting (Fair Maps) Yes or No? Part 4

Irene Bugge

On April 6, voters in Polk County will find the following question on their ballot: “Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps?” This article is the third installment of a series to educate voters about the nonbinding referendum question.

Debunking Myths about Gerrymandering and Fair Maps    

With 80 percent of counties in Wisconsin passing resolutions or referendums in favor of nonpartisan redistricting, there is strong bipartisan support for ending gerrymandering in our state. Yet, as the spring election approaches, you may hear some naysayers circulating misleading myths about fair maps. Let’s address those first and then move on to an update about a possible path forward to restoring fairness to redistricting in Wisconsin and the importance of the referendum on the spring ballot.

Myth #1: “It’s impossible to draw fair maps because everyone is biased.”

The gist of this argument is that everyone has a bias and it’s impossible to find people to draw maps who won’t impose their biases. That’s nonsense. Iowa solved this problem four decades ago. They gave career civil servants, who are sworn to be nonpartisan, the power to draw the maps. And to guard against any possible partisanship, Iowa’s law forbids the map drawers from using data on how people voted in any district when making the new maps. If they tried to do so, they would be prosecuted. Iowa has successfully used this system since 1980. They have produced fair maps with no lawsuits and no wasted taxpayer dollars for 40 years.

Myth #2: “The State Constitution requires the legislators to draw the maps. “

While our representatives do need to vote on electoral district maps, the Constitution does not say anything about the legislators needing to draw them personally. In 2011, the legislators in Wisconsin hired a political scientist from Oklahoma to draw the gerrymandered district maps based on past voting data. If a political scientist from Oklahoma can legally draw the maps, then career civil servants or a non-partisan commission can legally draw the maps.

Myth #3: “Legislators need to draw the district maps, not a nonpartisan commission, because they are the ones accountable to their constituents.”

When people live in a gerrymandered district, their legislator does not have to be accountable to their constituents because it’s essentially impossible for them to be voted out. Majority party legislators can do virtually anything or nothing and still be reelected, so they do not need to listen to their constituents in order to keep their jobs. 

Restoring Fairness to Redistricting: The People’s Maps Commission 

Over the past 40 years, voting district maps have ended up in court every time they have been redrawn in Wisconsin. In 2011 the maps were so heavily gerrymandered they were deemed unconstitutional by a federal court and cost tax payers $4 million in legal battles. The referendum on the ballot in Polk County asks the Wisconsin legislature to find a better way — to create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps.

Last year Governor Evers established the People’s Maps Commission. Modeled on nonpartisan commissions that have worked successfully in other states, it offers a possible path to restoring fairness to the redistricting process in our state.

This nine-member Commission is made up of people who live in Wisconsin. They are not elected officials, political party leaders, or lobbyists. To date, they have held seven public listening sessions (via zoom) across the state.

These sessions were designed to hear directly from experts about methods for drawing fair, nonpartisan maps and from the public. Wisconsinites who chose to give public testimony consistently said that they wanted fair maps, and an end to gerrymandering. Some shared how gerrymandering had directly and negatively impacted their lives.

This fall, after the 2020 census information is released, the Commission will use what they learned in these listening sessions and from maps submitted from communities across the state to draft new voting district maps. These will be shared with the legislature. Will these nonpartisan maps help politicians work together toward a fair solution to redistricting in Wisconsin? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you support fair maps, please go to the polls April 6 and vote ‘yes.’

Sourced by materials from: League of Women Voters, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan

Voting Districts, Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition and Wisconsin Farmers Union

For more information attend Fair Maps 101 – What is gerrymandering? Facebook event, 7-8pm on March 9 and March 18. Register at linktr.ee/Nonpartisan_Redistricting.

 

Fair Maps Next Steps (Part 5)

Irene Bugge

The fair maps referendum on the April 6 ballot in Polk County passed. What happens next?

I posed this question to Kathleen Hobert. A fair maps advocate and farmer in Amery, she helped lead the nonpartisan redistricting referendum efforts in Polk County.

Hobert smiled and answered, “First we celebrate the referendum passing. Our team worked really hard.”

Volunteers put up 150 “End Gerrymandering” yard signs, mailed 2,000 vote-yes-for-the-nonpartisan-redistricting-referendum postcards and left phone messages or spoke directly with 700 voters. The local League of Women Voters chapter held five fair maps sign rallies. News stories and ads stimulated a robust discussion of the issue on the editorial pages of local papers.

“We saw lots of community engagement,” says Hobert.

And it paid off.

A solid majority — 61% of voters in Polk County — voted yes to the question: “Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional plans and maps?”

How will voting district maps be redrawn in 2021? 

Ten years ago, the voting district maps were drawn behind closed doors by a political scientist from Oklahoma. The maps were kept secret. The people of Wisconsin were not involved in the process. Even elected officials from the majority party were only allowed to see how their own district was drawn before voting to approve the maps.

Advances in data analytics enabled the maps to be so heavily gerrymandered that they diluted the votes and voices of over half of Wisconsin’s citizens. A Federal court deemed them unconstitutional, and the expensive court battles over the rigged maps wasted $4 million of taxpayer money.

Last fall, Governor Evers established the People’s Maps Commission (PMC). Modeled on nonpartisan commissions that have worked well in other states, the PMC was asked to hear directly from voters from every congressional district in the state and then to work together to draw fair, impartial voting district maps for the Legislature to consider in 2021.

The People’s Maps Commission recently completed eight listening sessions across the state, learning directly from experts about methods for drawing fair, nonpartisan maps and also taking public testimony. It also has released the criteria it will use to draw the maps, with an emphasis on “contiguity and compactness,” “preserving political boundaries,” respecting “communities of interest,” and reflecting “partisan fairness.” When census numbers are released, the Commission will complete their work.

The Legislature has already made it clear that they will have their own set of maps drawn. Unlike the PMC, the Legislature has not committed to using a nonpartisan process. They have not disclosed the criteria that they will use to redraw district boundaries, nor asked for public input.

It is expected that the Legislature will approve maps that are similar to the heavily gerrymandered maps drawn ten years ago. These will be sent to the Governor. The Governor will veto the maps if they are partisan. If vetoed, the maps will again end up in court.

How Polk County’s referendum fits in?

With the passage of the referendum in Polk County, 56 out of 72 counties in Wisconsin now support fair maps. Fifty-five counties have passed resolutions and 32 have passed referendums. Polk passed both. 

“Each resolution passed by a county board or referendum passed by voters puts more pressure on our elected officials in Madison to draw fair maps,” Hobert said. “Momentum is building.”

Her advice?

“Since we’ve recently passed the fair maps referendum in Polk County, now is a great time to contact our legislators and let them know that we want fair maps and so do our neighbors,” Hobert said. 

Interested in learning more about fair maps? Register for “Fair Maps 101” at: www.linktr.ee/Nonpartisan_Redistricting

Sourced by materials from: League of Women Voters, Western Wisconsin for Nonpartisan

Voting Districts, Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition and Wisconsin Farmers Union 

 

 

LWV Joint Statement on Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict

WASHINGTON & MINNEAPOLIS – Today the League of Women Voters of the United States issued the following joint statement with the League of Women Voters of Minnesota and the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis in response to the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer:

“Today, the police officer responsible for the murder of George Floyd was held accountable for his crime.

“While the decision to convict George Floyd’s murderer was just, it does not remedy the undeniable fact that policing in America is fundamentally broken.

“The United States’ system of law enforcement, which was built on the legacy of slavery and racism, has stolen the lives of Black and brown Americans for centuries, almost completely unchecked.

“Making one man answer for his crimes does not equal justice. This conviction was an outlier in a system built on white supremacy. Accountability and the eradication of racially-motivated violence should be the norm, not an exception. Police officers must be held to the same level of accountability as everyone else.

“We must radically reimagine public safety in this country and prioritize investments in economic opportunities, education, healthcare, and other community-led solutions, instead of perpetuating police violence.

“Our thoughts are with the family of George Floyd. We hope that this decision provides a modicum of peace amid this tragedy.

“Today’s decision must represent a turning point as we work towards true reform of policing in this country.”

###

CONTACT: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | scourtney@lwv.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 15, 2021

DOACommunications@wisconsin.gov

People’s Maps Commission Seeks Public Comment

6th Congressional District public hearing to occur on Feb.25

MADISON —The People’s Maps Commission will hold a virtual public hearing at 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 25, 2021, to seek public input on the upcoming redistricting of legislative maps from constituents of Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District.  Although the Feb. 25 hearing will focus on the 6th Congressional District, all Wisconsin residents are encouraged to watch and participate. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing must register in advance by visiting the People’s Maps Commission website HERE.   

The hearing is the Commission’s seventh in a series of at least eight meetings, one for each one of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The virtual public hearing will include testimony from subject matter experts and also provide Wisconsinites the opportunity to express how they have been affected by legislative redistricting and share their ideas for how Wisconsin can work together to achieve fair maps.        

The deadline for registering to comment during this hearing is 5:00 p.m. Tues., Feb. 23rd, 2021. Each speaker will have three minutes to speak. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority to residents of Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District.  

For anyone unable to join the virtual hearing, written comments are strongly encouraged. Written comments can be submitted at any time using the feedback form available on the People’s Maps Commission website HERE. Written comments will be reviewed by the commissioners and are public record.  

Selected by a three judge panel, the Commission is a nine-member nonpartisan redistricting commission charged with drawing fair, impartial maps for the state of Wisconsin. More information about the Commission, its members and its activities is available HERE.   

Every 10 years, each state redraws their legislative and congressional districts using data from the decennial census. In addition to the data from the 2020 U.S. Census, the Commission will use information gathered during the public hearing process to prepare new maps. It will then be up to the Legislature to take up and approve the maps created by the Commission.  

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the People’s Maps Commission will host virtual public hearings for each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. Agendas and additional details will be announced in advance of future meeting dates. The hearing dates are as follows:  

The hearing dates are as follows:  

  • Thursday, February 25th – 6th Congressional District
  • Thursday, March 11 – 2nd Congressional District

 Individuals interested in watching previous hearings can find the recordings HERE

February 3, 2021

DOACommunications@wisconsin.gov

People’s Maps Commission Seeks Public Comment  

1st Congressional District public hearing to occur on Feb.11

MADISON —The People’s Maps Commission will hold a virtual public hearing at 5:30-8:45 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 11, 2021, to seek public input on the upcoming redistricting of legislative maps from constituents of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.  Although the Feb. 11 hearing will focus on the 1st Congressional District, all Wisconsin residents are encouraged to watch and participate. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing must register in advance by visiting the People’s Maps Commission website HERE.   

The hearing is the Commission’s sixth in a series of at least eight meetings, one for each one of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The virtual public hearing will include testimony from subject matter experts and also provide Wisconsinites the opportunity to express how they have been affected by legislative redistricting and share their ideas for how Wisconsin can work together to achieve fair maps.        

The deadline for registering to comment during this hearing is 5:00 p.m. Tues., Feb. 9th, 2021. Each speaker will have three minutes to speak. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority to residents of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.  

For anyone unable to join the virtual hearing, written comments are strongly encouraged. Written comments can be submitted at any time using the feedback form available on the People’s Maps Commission website HERE. Written comments will be reviewed by the commissioners and are public record.  

Selected by a three judge panel, the Commission is a nine-member nonpartisan redistricting commission charged with drawing fair, impartial maps for the state of Wisconsin. More information about the Commission, its members and its activities is available HERE.   

Every 10 years, each state redraws their legislative and congressional districts using data from the decennial census. In addition to the data from the 2020 U.S. Census, the Commission will use information gathered during the public hearing process to prepare new maps. It will then be up to the Legislature to take up and approve the maps created by the Commission.  

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the People’s Maps Commission will host virtual public hearings for each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. Agendas and additional details will be announced in advance of future meeting dates. The hearing dates are as follows:  

The hearing dates are as follows:  

  • Thursday, February 11 – 1st Congressional District
  • Thursday, February 25th – 6th Congressional District
  • Thursday, March 11 – 2nd Congressional District

 Individuals interested in watching previous hearings can find the recordings HERE

 

January 26, 2021

DOACommunications@wisconsin.gov

Katie Fahey and Michael Li to testify at People’s Map Commission  

Hearing Jan. 28th Featuring 7th Congressional District  

Commissioners to hear testimony on the ways Midwestern states draw fair maps.  

MADISON – Today, the People’s Maps Commission announced Katie Fahey and Michael Li will provide expert testimony to the Commission during the online virtual public hearing on Jan. 28, 2021, beginning at 5:30 pm.  

Fahey is the founder and executive director of The People, an organization that aims to support Americans in finding common ground and empower individuals to get involved in the political process. Li serves as senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, where his work focuses on redistricting, voting rights, and elections. More information about the expert speakers is available HERE.  

Following the experts’ presentations, Wisconsin residents have the opportunity to provide public comment to commission members regarding how they have been impacted by legislative redistricting and share their ideas for how Wisconsin can work together to achieve fair maps. Anyone wishing to testify at a hearing must register in advance by visiting the People’s Maps Commission websiteHERE . The deadline for registering to comment during this hearing is 5:30 p.m. Tues., Jan. 26, 2021. Each speaker will have three minutes to speak. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority to residents of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.   

Although the Jan. 28th hearing will focus on the 7th Congressional District, all Wisconsin residents are encouraged to watch and participate. The hearing will be live-streamed on the Department of Administration’s YouTube Channel HERE. 

For anyone unable to join online, written comments are strongly encouraged. All written comments can be submitted at any time using the feedback form available on the People’s Maps Commission website HERE. Written comments will be reviewed by the commissioners and are public record.  

Selected by a threejudge panel, the Commission is a nine-member nonpartisan redistricting commission charged with drawing fair, impartial maps for Wisconsin. More information about the Commission, its members, and its activities is available HERE.     

Every 10 years, each state redraws their legislative and congressional district maps using data from the decennial census. In addition to the data from the 2020 U.S. Census, the Commission will use the information gathered during the public hearing process to prepare new maps. It is then up to the Legislature to take up and approve the maps created by the Commission.    

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the People’s Maps Commission will host the public hearings online for each of Wisconsin’s congressional districts. Agendas and additional details will be announced in advance of future meeting dates. The hearing dates are as follows:   

  • Thursday, January 28th – 7th Congressional District 
  • Thursday, February 11 – 1st Congressional District 
  • Thursday, February 25th - 6th Congressional District
  • Thursday, March 11 – 2nd Congressional District

 Individuals interested in watching previous hearings can find the recordings HERE.  

 

January 7, 2021 

DOACommunications@wisconsin.gov

 

People’s Maps Commission Seeks Public Comment

4th Congressional District public hearing to occur on Jan. 14

 

 

MADISON—The People’s Maps Commission will hold a virtual public hearing at 5:00 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 14, 2021, to seek public input on the upcoming redistricting of legislative maps from constituents of Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District.  Although the Jan. 14 hearing will focus on the 4th Congressional District, all Wisconsin residents are encouraged to watch and participate. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing must register in advance by visiting the People’s Maps Commission website HERE.

The hearing is the Commission’s fourth in a series of at least eight meetings, one for each one of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. The virtual public hearing will include testimony from subject matter experts and also provide Wisconsinites the opportunity to express how they have been affected by legislative redistricting and share their ideas for how Wisconsin can work together to achieve fair maps.

The deadline for registering to comment during this hearing is 5:00 p.m. Tues., Jan. 12, 2021. Each speaker will have three minutes to speak. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority to residents of Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District.

For anyone unable to join the virtual hearing, written comments are strongly encouraged. Written comments can be submitted at any time using the feedback form available on the People’s Maps Commission website HERE. Written comments will be reviewed by the commissioners and are public record.

Selected by a three judge panel, the Commission is a nine-member nonpartisan redistricting commission charged with drawing fair, impartial maps for the state of Wisconsin. More information about the Commission, its members and its activities is available HERE.

Every 10 years, each state redraws their legislative and congressional districts using data from the decennial census. In addition to the data from the 2020 U.S. Census, the Commission will use information gathered during the public hearing process to prepare new maps. It will then be up to the Legislature to take up and approve the maps created by the Commission.

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the People’s Maps Commission will host virtual public hearings for each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts. Agendas and additional details will be announced in advance of future meeting dates. The hearing dates are as follows:

The hearing dates are as follows:

  • Thursday, January 14th – 4th Congressional District
  • Thursday, January 28th – 1st Congressional District
  • Thursday, February 11 – 7th Congressional District
  • Thursday, February 25th – 6th Congressional District
  • Thursday, March 11 – 2nd Congressional District

Individuals interested in watching previous hearings can find the recordings here:

  • 1st – 8th Congressional District HERE
  • 29th – 5th Congressional District HERE
  • 19th– 3rdCongressional District HERE

 

 

December 10, 2020

League of Women Voters Wisconsin Statement on Joint Committee Hearing

MADISON—On December 10, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin sent the following statment to members of the Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues, and members of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections:

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin looks forward with interest to viewing the session scheduled for December 11 by your committees to review the 2020 General Election. While the notice for this public hearing does not name the individuals who will speak nor the topics that will be discussed, we gather from the media that the main topic will be an investigation of complaints and allegations of fraud received by lawmakers about the election. This statement gives you the League’s perspective, based on what our observers have reported and the partial recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties.

The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. We are proud of the fact that, despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 2020 election in our state went smoothly and had high participation. We commend our state and local election officials for their long hours of diligent work to make that possible. We also recognize the efforts of thousands of citizens who assisted local clerks and worked at the polls.  

The challenges of 2020 were many, but the outcomes included enhanced voter outreach and a younger Election Day workforce. This year our municipal clerks offered multiple ways for citizens to vote safely and securely from home, at In-Person Absentee Voting sites, or at the polls on Election Day. Knowing that many of the older poll workers would not be safe working at the polls this year, hundreds of younger community members statewide stepped up and became election inspectors. We hope they will continue to serve in future elections. 

The voting process was smooth in most localities, despite the high turnout amid the pandemic. The League had observers monitoring the voting process, including early voting, polling places, central count locations, post-election equipment audits, and the recount. As always, our observers commended the local election officials who made this possible.

The election was also secure and accurate. The partial recount in two counties found very few irregularities or problems, most of which were the result of human error. The audit found no evidence at all of widespread fraud in the election. The safeguards in our election system and our state’s highly competent and responsible election officials ensure that our elections are fair and clean. There is no justification for the extreme measures being discussed in the courts and the media, which could invalidate the legitimate votes of millions of law-abiding Wisconsin voters.

We can learn from the challenges the pandemic posed for many voters and work to make voting more accessible for all citizens. For example, while many voters found it difficult to have their absentee ballot certificate witnessed in the midst of the pandemic, the fact is that many older or disabled voters have faced that challenge for years. We can also look at how to streamline absentee ballot processing in a manner that is fair for all. 

In the 2021-2022 legislative session, we recommend that lawmakers take what we have learned from the successes and challenges of the November 2020 election and support the needs of our local election officials, as they work to make it possible for every eligible citizen to cast a ballot and have it counted.

 

October 13, 2020

LWV of Wisconsin Case to Provide Voters with Fail-Safe for Absentee Voting Reaches US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON—Seeking to protect the health of Wisconsin voters put at risk by the COVID-19 pandemic, an application was filed today in the U.S. Supreme Court that would provide voters with a back-up option to receive delayed mail-in absentee ballots. The action was submitted by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, and eight individual Wisconsin voters, who are looking to restore a lower court ruling that allowed Wisconsin voters an option to receive previously-requested absentee ballots by email or online, should they not arrive in the mail in time to be cast in the November 3 general election.  

Representing the plaintiffs, Fair Elections Center filed an application to vacate the stay issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that blocks a September ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. 

“Electronic ballot delivery is not new in Wisconsin. We had the option for years until our legislature recently blocked its usage. In fact, Wisconsinites serving overseas in the military are receiving their ballots online right now for the 2020 general election,” said Debra Cronmiller, president of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “Given the thousands of voters who were disenfranchised or forced to vote in person in April, the courts must recognize the risk of delayed mail ballot delivery, acknowledge the threat of this pandemic on voters’ safety, and reinstate electronic replacement ballot delivery for the general election.” 

The case, Gear v. Bostelmann, was brought against the Wisconsin Elections Commission in June following Wisconsin’s disastrous April 7 primary election, in which thousands of voters reported not receiving their mail-in absentee ballot in time for the election or even at all. Ahead of the November general election, plaintiffs sought additional ways for voters to be able to receive their mail-in absentee ballot, including online access at myvote.wi.gov and email delivery. Voters would still return these ballots through the mail or drop them off at polling places or municipal clerks’ offices.  

“The nation watched in dismay as Wisconsin voters who failed to receive their primary election mail ballots on time were forced to vote in person or lose their voting rights altogether,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “As Wisconsin voters prepare to participate in the general election, many are justifiably concerned about a repeat of the primary election. Providing and promoting a backup option for ballot delivery will assure voters that they will not lose their ability to vote safely if their ballot fails to arrive on time. Without such a process, Wisconsin voters are forced to make a dangerous and unfair decision between exposing themselves to health risks during this pandemic or losing their right to vote.”

The September 21 ruling in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin—which offered a limited time window as a necessary fail-safe for voters who do not receive their absentee ballot in the mail—was reversed by the Seventh Circuit last week. 

“Wisconsin seniors take voting seriously. If a ballot doesn’t reach a voter in time, despite the voter taking all the steps they should within the deadlines, they should not be disenfranchised,” said Gary Mitchell, President of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans. “We hope the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court, and allows a fail-safe option for voters to get the ballots they requested.” 

Gear v. Bostelmann was consolidated with three other cases brought by the Democratic National Committee and other groups that focused on mail-in absentee ballot receipt deadlines and poll worker recruitment. The fail-safe ballot delivery option that the district court ordered in Gear v. Bostelmann has been suspended pending resolution of the merits of the appeal. Plaintiffs’ application to the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to lift that stay. 

Delivery of absentee ballots to voters via email is not a new phenomenon for Wisconsin voters. Previously, the state offered email ballot delivery for all voters, including for the 2016 presidential election. During that election, the state issued nearly 10,000 ballots to voters by email, and more than 7,000 were cast and returned by mail. Two federal elections and many other state and local elections were conducted using email delivery without incident or dispute. However, this summer, the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Luft v. Evers reinstated a statutory ban on electronic delivery of absentee ballots to domestic civilian voters.  

While the issue of ballot delivery and receipt is being hashed out in the courts, COVID-19 transmission in Wisconsin has continued to rise at an alarming rate.  

Read the application here. 

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PRESS CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | kvix@lwv.org

 

September 30, 2020

Know Your Candidates – Listen to Them Debate

Burnett, Polk, & St. Croix CountiesThe League of Women Voters – St. Croix Valley, in conjunction with 88.3 WHWC-FM/ Menomonie-Eau Claire and 88.7 WRFW-FM/ River Falls, is providing archived local candidate debates on their website – https://lwvstcroixvalley.org/debates/ .

Wisconsin Public Radio is conducting a series of debates between state candidates running for positions in the November 2020 election. “The West Side” is a call-in program focused on issues specific to western Wisconsin. The show is hosted by Dean Kallenbach and airs on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 88.3 WHWC-FM/ Menomonie-Eau Claire and 88.7 WRFW-FM/ River Falls, with a livestream at www.wrfw887.com. On October 16, 2020, Senate District 10 candidates, Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, and Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, will debate.

The other debates are archived, for you to listen, on the LWV’s website – https://lwvstcroixvalley.org/debates/ . The debates includeAssembly District 28, Kim Butler, D-Balsam Lake, and Gae Magnafici, R-Dresser; Assembly District 30, Sarah Yacoub, D-Hudson, and Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls; Assembly District 29, John Calabrese, D-Menomonie, and Clint Moses, R-Menomonie; and Assembly District 75, David Armstrong, R-Rice Lake, and John Ellenson, D-Shell Lake.

 The League of Women Voters of the United States is a non-partisan group that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  We are currently encouraging people to exercise their right to vote!

Your Vote is Important! Go to https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoterDeadlines , to find out how to register to vote, how to vote early, and how to vote absentee ballot. “Someone Struggled for your right to Vote.  Use it.” – Susan B. Anthony

Please learn more about our LWV through our website – https://lwvstcroixvalley.org.  Like and Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/lwvstcroixvalley and at https://www.instagram.com/lwvstcroixvalley.  Our chairperson is Carolyn Saunders and she can be reached by email at contact@lwvstcroixvalley.org or by phone at 715-432-5816.  We hope that you can join us!

September 6, 2020

A New Name for the Local League of Woman Voters

Burnett, Polk, & St. Croix Counties –Ellen Penwell, Wisconsin State League of Women Voters, announced that, “The LWV Upper St. Croix Valley is now officially recognized by the Wisconsin state League and LWVUS as LWV ST CROIX VALLEY!”  She continued, “Their formal name change is the culmination of an ambitious, year-long effort to become a more geographically inclusive League by expanding their jurisdiction south into St. Croix County.  Since their formation as a local League in 2015, their area of service has been limited to Polk and Burnett counties, considered the northern section of the St. Croix Valley.  Dropping “Upper” from their name signals their expanded reach to more Wisconsin voters in the larger St. Croix Valley.”

Ms. Penwell said, “The LWV St. Croix Valley was recognized for their transformative work in this area with the receipt of a 2020 Membership & Leadership Development award. Becoming a more inclusive League brought more than a name change. They created a St. Croix County liaison seat on their board, extended programming equally into the new county and enhanced their visibility with a new website and Facebook page, which has already resulted in membership gains, in testimony to the impact of their new measures.”

The League of Women Voters of the United States encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  We are currently encouraging people to exercise their right to vote!

The League of Women Voters St. Croix Valley is now fifty-four members strong! We are a non-partisan group that is open to both men and women.  Please learn more about our LWV through our website – https://lwvstcroixvalley.org.  Like and Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/lwvstcroixvalley and at https://www.instagram.com/lwvstcroixvalley.  Our chairperson is Carolyn Saunders and she can be reached by email at contact@lwvstcroixvalley.org or by phone at 715-432-5816. 

We hope that you can join us!

September 5, 2020

A New Name Reflects More Inclusive League 
League in the Spotlight: LWV St. Croix Valley

The LWV Upper St. Croix Valley is now officially recognized by the Wisconsin state League and LWVUS as LWV St. Croix Valley  Its formal name change is the culmination of an ambitious, year-long effort to become a more geographically inclusive League by expanding its jurisdiction south into St. Croix County. Since the League’s formation in 2015, its area of service has been limited to Polk and Burnett counties, the northern region of the St. Croix Valley.  Dropping “Upper” from the name signals an expanded reach to more Wisconsin voters in the larger St. Croix Valley.

LWV St. Croix Valley was recognized for its transformative work in this area with the receipt of a 2020 Membership & Leadership Development award. Becoming a more inclusive League brought more than a name change. The League created a St. Croix County liaison seat on their board, extended programming equally into the new county and enhanced their visibility with a new website and facebook page, which has already resulted in membership gains; a testimony to the impact of these new measures. 

League of Women Voters Wisconsin Newsletter

August 19, 2020

Groups Sue Postmaster General over USPS Changes

US Postal Service Leaders Must Restore Voter Faith in Mail System

GREENBELT, MD—Late Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of the United States, the National Urban League, and Common Cause filed a lawsuit against the Postmaster General and United States Postal Service asserting that recent changes to postal service procedures and equipment presents an undue burden on fundamental right to vote, infringes on voters’ free speech rights, and violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

The Postmaster General issued an announcement on Tuesday that the agency would suspend certain “operational initiatives” until after the election, though it did not offer many details. Many questions remain as to whether this suspension of initiatives covers the most concerning changes already made, such as the removal of hundreds of mail sorting machines and the treatment and timeframe for delivery of election-related mail. Furthermore, the erosion of trust and major delays that resulted from the changes to procedures and equipment remain.

“The League supports the US Postal Service, one of our country’s oldest and most trusted agencies. Yet, even with the supposed suspension of changes to USPS’s system, the damage has already been done,” said Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The distrust has been sown. Voters are left confused and uncertain as they navigate how to vote safely during a pandemic. We must not allow the proposed changes to USPS to be implemented, for this election or any future election. We must restore voters’ faith in our mail system.”

The lawsuit, National Urban League, et al v. DeJoy, defendants intentionally made changes that would undermine the upcoming election. The lawsuit requests the court to weigh in on whether the U.S. Constitution was violated, restrict future action by the Postmaster General to implement nationwide changes to the mail system without proper oversight, and take immediate steps to mitigate the damage caused by these changes.

“As a century-old organization, the League understands the importance of being a credible and trusted beacon for American communities. The shenanigans that postal workers and USPS agency officials have had to endure are shameful,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation at the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The taint of the Postmaster General’s flippant changes will not be removed until a clear plan is outlined detailing how the agency will mitigate the damage done and establish transparency. Only then will trust begin to be restored for millions of individuals who rely on the vital services that the US Postal Service provides.”

The League and its partners are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Arnold & Porter LLC.

“As the Senate Intelligence Committee report released today reveals, the team surrounding President Trump has pushed the boundaries of voter suppression and interference in unprecedented ways,” Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “We are determined that the Constitutionally-established institutions of our government will not be twisted into service of the President’s reelection campaign, and we will not abandon those who depend upon the Postal Service for life-sustaining deliveries.”

“The drastic and disruptive changes to the Postal Service by the Trump administration have been an attack on every American’s right to vote and their First Amendment right to free speech – and they must be rolled back definitively with more than just a press release,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “These efforts to undermine the effectiveness of the Postal Service under President Trump must ALL be rescinded. In the midst of a pandemic we need to know that ballot applications and ballots will be delivered in a timely manner so that every American will be able to make their voice heard on Election Day without having to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.”

“Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has wreaked havoc across the country with reckless policies intended to disrupt the timely delivery of mail just weeks in advance of a general election,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Without question, DeJoy is weaponizing the United States Postal Service (USPS) to disenfranchise Americans who choose to vote by mail amid an unprecedented pandemic gripping the nation. We are filing this lawsuit to stop actions that were adopted unlawfully and that were intended to cause delays intended to disrupt the November election. DeJoy’s statement vowing to suspend changes rings hollow in the absence of remedial action taken to address the damage that his actions have caused.”

“There is nothing more precious in the Constitution than the sacred right to vote, and the law will not and cannot stand idly by when that right is infringed for political purposes,” said Kenneth Chernof, partner at Arnold & Porter.

Voters are strongly encouraged to act early with their voting plan this year, whether it involves voting by mail or voting in person. VOTE411.org has timely updates and information related to voting options in all 50 states and DC.

Read the complaint here.

###

CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | kvix@lwv.org

August 18, 2020

100 YEARS STRONG LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

ST. CROIX VALLEY – In 2019 and 2020, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has observed Centennial anniversaries for three seminal moments in the history of the League and our democracy:

June 10, 1919 – Wisconsin is the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment
February 14, 1920 – The League of Women Voters is founded
August 26, 1920 – The 19th Amendment declared in effect following final ratification on August 18, 1920

On April 11, 2019, Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order 19 creating a Committee to Celebrate the Centennial of Wisconsin’s Ratification of the 19th Amendment, appointing First Lady Kathy Evers, Chair, and specifying Wisconsin’s women in elected and appointed state offices and other experts to carry out the work of the committee. On August 26, 2020, members of the Governor’s Committee will join women from around the state on the steps of the Capitol in Madison. They will ring bells, reminiscent of the bells that rung out the news in 1920 proclaiming that women finally had the right to vote!
The League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley has invited churches from Polk, Burnett and St. Croix Counties to ring their church bells at noon on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. Let the bells toll … celebrate that we all have a right to vote!

But as we commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, please be aware that the right to vote didn’t come easy for the majority of people who now make up the citizenry of the United States. That’s to say, in our history – the histories of people of color, women, and young people – there has been a struggle, a fight for the right to vote.

The League of Women Voters was born from such a struggle. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the Amendment in 1919 that would give women the right to vote by August 26, 1920 when the 19th Amendment was finally included into the US Constitution. In 1920, the League was formed on the premise that a nonpartisan civic organization could provide the education and experience the public needed to assure the success of democracy. Founder Carrie Chapman Catt born in Ripon, WI exclaimed the League was formed to “finish the fight” to win national woman suffrage. Yet within the struggle for the right to vote, we left some of our sisters behind when the 75-year fight for votes for women didn’t include securing these rights for women of color. And that struggle continued for decades until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And now today, across the states, barriers to voting are being erected to disenfranchise communities of color, people of low-income, students, and people with disabilities. Yet all eligible voters should be able to cast a ballot confidently, proudly, and without additional requirements that prevent them from voting. It is clear that the “fight” remains unfinished. From this vantage point, looking back while planning ahead, the League is committed to remembering and commemorating the accomplishments of all those who fought for our right to vote while advocating for voting reforms and defending democracy.
For more information about the League of Women Voters in western Wisconsin, go to: www.lwvstcroixvalley.org

The League of Women Voters of Upper St. Croix Valley is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to people 16 years and older, of all gender identities. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.

 

August 14, 2020

The “Votes for Women” Teapot

 ST. CROIX VALLEY –The League of Women Voters of Upper St. Croix Valley (LWVUSCV) will celebrate the adoption of the 19th Amendment on August 26. Barb Wetzel is a member of the local league and she owns a special teapot. Although the teapot is a reproduction, the original pot has a history tied to the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote.

The “Votes for Women” Teapot by Barb Wetzel

When friends come to visit and we share tea and treats, I like to serve tea in a teapot from my collection. A recent addition is the “Votes for Women” teapot, a gift from my daughter’s family, Christmas 2019. Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment!

I inaugurated the teapot in early February, when my friend Cheryl visited on a damp winter day.

“Oh, the Votes for Women teapot!” 

Cheryl almost didn’t seem surprised to see it, perhaps because she knows I’m active in LWV. Then she explained what she learned on a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Cheryl and her friends visited the Belmont-Paul House, which is unit of the National Park System. The historic home was dedicated by President Obama and renamed the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. (See the NPS website at: https://www.nps.gov/bepa) The home was purchased by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont to be used as headquarters for the National Women’s Party. She and Alice Paul, along with thousands of other women in Great Britain, other European countries and the USA, had been pushing for women’s rights. In the USA the aim was an amendment to the US Constitution, giving women voting rights. This effort was launched in 1848 at the Seneca Falls, N.Y., convention by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and other leaders in women’s suffrage.

 A socialite in Washington, D.C., Alva Belmont entertained and invited congressmen (in those days only men) and other influential people to her home. Her goal was to influence them to write legislation supportive of women. She enjoyed discussions on political issues. Apparently, some guests did not and told Belmont so. 

 “We enjoy your parties, Alva, but give us a break from politics.” Her solution was to commission a set of dinner china decorated with the slogan, “Votes for Women.” Her guests were made well aware of her position!

That is how the souvenir teapot came to be, and appropriate for sale in the Alcott House gift shop.

The National Park Service has an interactive virtual tour of the house. Go to: https://www.nps.gov/articles/belmont-paul-virtual-tour.htm

The Belmont-Paul house has its own history. This website delineates that and the development of National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.), which became the League of Women Voters after the passage of 19th Amendment. Go to: https://npsgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NHLS/72001432_text

Join in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Adoption of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Equality Day on August 26, 2020 at noon. Ring bells, blow whistles, and wear white. Learn more at: https://my.lwv.org/wisconsin/event/bell-ringing-statewide-celebrate-19th-amendment-centennial

The League of Women Voters of Upper St. Croix Valley is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to people 16 years and older, of all gender identities. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.

 

white teapot with the words: Votes for Women

July 22, 2020

Local League of Women Voters Receive Grant

ST. CROIX VALLEY – The League of Women Voters of Upper St. Croix Valley (LWVUSCV) recently received an Operation Round Up Grant from the Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative for $1000.00. The money will be spent on materials and activities to help citizens become informed and registered voters for the fall election.

“We are in the process of exploring appropriate avenues to host candidate and informational forums in this time of Covid-19 and the grant will allow us to provide the best services we can,” said League Chair, Carolyn Saunders. The LWVUSCV has hosted local candidate forums and meet & greet events over the past four years. The November election includes voting for a U.S. Congressional seat, state senate and assembly positions, a host of local officials, as well as the U.S. President.

Operation Round Up is funded by members of the Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative adding money to their monthly electric bills, rounding up to an even dollar amount. “This is our second grant from the electric provider and we are most appreciative to the generous members of the cooperative. They have helped us register many voters in Burnett, Polk, and St. Croix counties,” Carolyn said. Voter registration materials are distributed to area libraries throughout the 3-county area.

The League of Women Voters of Upper St. Croix Valley is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to people 16 years and older, of all gender identities. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.

 

July 14, 2020

Honk if You Vote! 

The League of Women Voters are celebrating 100 years of advocacy for voters and to bring home their message.  League members of the Upper St Croix Valley took to the streets on June 10th and July 2 & 3 in New Richmond, Osceola and Frederic, encouraging citizens to VOTE! We are planning future rallies in Grantsburg, Siren, and Webster.

Standing on street corners and waving signs is fun, but what the League has always been about is to encourage voter registration and to raise awareness for upcoming elections. The League also “seeks to improve government and impact public policies through education and advocacy.” To accomplish this goal, the League offers workshops on the voter registration process  and provides voters with non-partisan voter information. The League of Women Voters of the Upper St. Croix Valley serves Burnett, Polk and St. Croix Counties.

To keep up with League activities follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lwvstcroixvalley/, Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/lwvstcroixvalley, and our website at https://lwvstcroixvalley.org  You can contact us at contact@lwvstcroixvalley.org .

July 13, 2020

League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Files Brief to Protect Registered Voters from Polling List Purge

[MADISON, Wisconsin] – On Monday, July 13, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (LWVWI) filed an amicus curiae brief in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to protect voters from being erroneously removed from polling lists of registered voters.

“Attempts to utilize data that is known to be flawed are attempts to suppress votes, plain and simple,” said Debra Cronmiller, LWVWI executive director. “The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin will continue to protect voters by ensuring those who are validly registered are not inappropriately removed from the polling book.”

The brief is part of the Zignego case from 2019 in which petitioners attempted to force some 230,000 voters from the rolls based on information provided by the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) movers list. Due to flaws in the data provided to ERIC by the State, the LWVWI argues thousands of voters have been erroneously identified as having potentially moved. The LWVWI asserts the information from the ERIC movers list is not reliable within the meaning of the law and cannot be used as a basis for cancelling a voter’s registration.

In the brief, LWVWI asks the court to uphold a lower court’s decision to stay the order for the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to refrain from purging voters from the polling lists of registered voters based on information provided by the ERIC movers list.

In October 2019, the WEC mailed out letters to 232,579 registered Wisconsin voters on the 2019-2020 ERIC list. As of May 20, 2020, 4,709 voters on that list have confirmed that they have not moved to a new address. The November election may identify countless more voters that have been erroneously identified as having moved.

The filed brief can be found here.

For more information, please contact Debra Cronmiller, LWVWI executive director.

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The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 20 local Leagues in Wisconsin. More information at lwvwi.org.

League to which this content belongs:

Wisconsin

June 29, 2020

LWV of Wisconsin Files Amended Complaint Asking for Safe, Reliable Absentee Ballot Process in November

MADISON— Today, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed an amended complaint ahead of the November election. This federal lawsuit seeks back-up options for mail-in absentee voters who do not receive their ballot in the mail, as well as suspension of the witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots. The existing law suit Gear v. Bostelmann, in which the League challenged the state’s signature witness requirement ahead of the April 7 election, has been expanded to take on the widespread failure to deliver absentee ballots to voters. 

“The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin gathered testimonials from over 700 voters who experienced issues casting a ballot in the April 7 election—these are only a subset of the thousands who were disenfranchised,” said Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “We cannot allow a disaster like our April primary to happen again. We must protect Wisconsin voters in our upcoming elections and restore their faith in our electoral system. Our democracy depends on it.” 

This lawsuit comes after Wisconsin’s notorious April 7 primary, in which many voters reported not receiving their ballot in time for the election or even at all. Ahead of the November general election, plaintiffs are seeking additional ways for voters to be able to receive their mail-in absentee ballot, including online access at myvote.wi.gov and email delivery.  Voters would still return these ballots through the mail or drop them off. Finally, the plaintiffs ask that the Court order relief to voters struggling to safely comply with the state’s witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots.  

“We all watched in dismay as Wisconsin voters were forced to break stay-at-home guidelines in order to cast their ballot in April,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “It is inhumane when voters must put their health in jeopardy to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The League of Women Voters will always stand up to defend voters’ rights to safe access to the ballot box.”  

The League of Women Voters is joined in this case by Wisconsin voters Katherine Kohlbeck, Diane Ferbot, Gary Fergot, Bonibet Bahr Olsan, Shelia Jozwik, Gregg Jozwik, Sylvia Gear, and Claire Whelan, as well as Wisconsin Alliance of Retired Americans, and represented by Federal Elections Center and Rathje Woodward LLC.  

“Today this case evolves to take on the widespread absentee ballot delivery failures seen in Wisconsin and around the country, as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on,” said Jon Sherman, Senior Counsel at Fair Elections Center. “Voters should never lose their right to vote because a ballot fails to arrive in the mail. Wisconsin election officials already electronically transmit ballots to voters in a variety of ways; these fail-safe options need to be made available to all voters who do not receive their ballot in the mail.”  

A copy of the complaint can be found here.  

CONTACT: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | scourtney@lwv.org

June 2020

League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Publishes Online Voter Guide Ahead of Partisan Primary Election

[MADISON, Wisconsin] – To provide Wisconsin voters with essential information about the upcoming Partisan Primary on August 11, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (LWVWI) has published our fall voter guide on VOTE411.

VOTE411 is a “one-stop-shop” for nonpartisan election information, equipping voters with easy tools to navigate the voting process. The resource provides candidate information for state and local offices, and other helpful election information, including how to request an absentee ballot. With limited opportunities to learn about the candidates in person, online voter guides like LWVWI’s are especially important for voters making their plans to vote during the pandemic.

“Wisconsin voters need convenient and accessible tools to make confident decisions about the candidates running to represent them in elected offices,” said Eileen Newcomer, voter education manager at the LWVWI. “Our voter guide on VOTE411 is a nonpartisan resource to help all voters get prepared for the Fall Primary.”

The Partisan Primary will be held on August 11, 2020. On the ballot are candidates for the United States House of Representatives, the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly and other local races. More information for local races can be found at our website.

LWVWI sent questionnaires to all the candidates whose names will appear on the August ballot. Each candidate’s responses are posted verbatim in the candidate’s own words. Candidates who did not respond will be disclosed as “No candidate response” in the voter guide, and we will link to available websites and social media accounts of these candidates, allowing voters to access important candidate information using VOTE411.

The information available on VOTE411 helps thousands of Wisconsin voters each year – many young and first-time voters – learn about candidate qualifications and positions, and how to access the ballot.

“We encourage voters to visit VOTE411 and make a voting plan so they are prepared to cast their vote confidently whether they choose to vote absentee prior to the election or in-person on election day,” Newcomer said.

Wisconsin voters can access information about the upcoming election at vote411.org/ballot.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 20 local Leagues in Wisconsin. More information at lwvwi.org.

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For more information, please contact Morgan Grunow, Communications Manager (mgrunow@lwvwi.org, 608-256-0827).

League to which this content belongs:

Wisconsin