You are probably already aware that in Wisconsin there is an ongoing attempt by Republicans and conservatives to purge thousands of voters from the rolls, What you may not be aware of is this is not an isolated movement; it is happening all over the county. Unfortunately, we often do not get the whole picture when we read about efforts like this in Wisconsin. But here is an article that describes what is happening elsewhere in the United States.
Several states have already pushed out their spring general elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on voting. Here in Wisconsin, with the election just a week away, the powers to be still can’t agree on critical issues that are impacting the ability of people to vote.
For example, many polling places, such as schools, have closed down and have been closed for some time. Where will people go to vote? And there may not be enough poll workers to staff those polling places that are open. How are people who do vote in person going go maintain the desired “social distancing”?
The Wisconsin Elections Commission strongly urges anyone who is concerned about Coronavirus COVID-19 exposure to make plans now to vote absentee for the April 7 Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary.
“If you are worried about getting to the polls on Election Day, make sure you are registered to vote at your current address and with your current name and request an absentee ballot as soon as possible,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official.
Acting by Wednesday, March 18, is especially important for anyone who needs to register to vote, Wolfe said. “We want everyone who is eligible and who wants to vote to be able to do so safely,” she said. If your name or address has changed since you need to register with your current information. You can check your registration status at myvote.wi.gov, click on “My Voter Info.”
The WEC is working closely with county and municipal clerks throughout the state to help them prepare for a safe and healthy election. The WEC is holding three webinars throughout the day Monday for clerks.
On Thursday, the six-member, bi-partisan Elections Commission took unanimous action to protect voters in nursing homes. Wolfe said the Commissioners will be holding additional meetings in the coming weeks as further action is necessary to protect voters and election officials during the voting process.
WEC is also working closely with Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Department of Health Services.
How to Register to Vote by the Deadline
Wednesday, March 18 is the deadline for electors to register to vote by mail or online for the Presidential Preference Primary and Spring Election. After this date, electors must register in person in the municipal clerk’s office or at the polling place.
According to state law, mailed voter registration forms must be postmarked no later than the third Wednesday before the election. Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. the same day.
Online voter registration is available at https://myvote.wi.gov. There are two ways you can register using the website:
People with a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card whose address is current with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation can complete their online registration immediately. People who need to update their address with DOT can accomplish that online and complete their online registration.
People without a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card can fill out the voter registration form online, then print it, sign it and mail it to their municipal clerk’s office along with a proof-of residence document. The website has detailed instructions. If you do not have a printer where you are, you can save the completed form as a PDF and make arrangements to have a family member or a friend with a printer, or a copy center, to print it for you.
Remember, the deadline to register online or by mail is Wednesday, March 18.
Voters who miss the deadline may also register in their municipal clerk’s office until the Friday before the election, April 3 or at the polls on election day.
How to Request an Absentee Ballot
There are several ways registered voters can request absentee ballots. If they have internet access, the easiest way is to sign up at MyVote Wisconsin, https://myvote.wi.gov.
Just look for the “Vote Absentee” button near the top of the page. On a mobile phone, use the menu button in the upper right corner of the website. There is a three-step process that starts with putting in your name and date of birth, followed by requesting your ballot. If you don’t already have a photo ID on file with your clerk’s office, you can upload a copy. Mobile phone users can take a picture and upload it to MyVote. Absentee ballot requests submitted this way go directly to your clerk’s office, and you can track your ballot by returning to the website.
Voters can also request absentee ballots by mailing, emailing or faxing their municipal clerk’s office. You can find your clerk’s contact information on MyVote Wisconsin. These requests must be accompanied by a copy of your photo ID. If you already have a photo ID on file from previous absentee requests under your current registration, you will not need to provide it again.
Voters who are indefinitely confined, meaning they may have difficulty getting to the polls for reason of age, illness, infirmity, or disability are not required to provide a photo ID. Voters in care facilities can have a representative of the facility confirm the resident’s identity instead of providing a photo ID. More information on photo ID and exemptions can be found at bringit.wi.gov.
The deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is the Thursday before the election, April 2. However, the WEC urges voters not to wait, due to possible delays in mail delivery. If you get an absentee ballot mailed to you, you can still decide to vote at the polls on Election Day if you haven’t returned it.
Your absentee ballot must be received in your clerk’s office or at your polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Again, the WEC urges voters to request and return ballots as soon as possible.
At its March 12 meeting, the Commission affirmed that it is ready to meet for an emergency meeting if health officials issue additional guidance that impacts elections. At this time the Commission has not considered any additional changes to the process, dates or deadlines for the April 7 election. The Commission is also working with state leaders to determine the legal mechanisms for making future changes should they be needed.
“The Commission and WEC staff recognize that this is an evolving situation and will continue to rely on the guidance of public health officials. We all stand ready to adjust as directed to ensure the safety of clerks, poll workers and voters,” said Wolfe.
Because of the ruling yesterday by a Wisconsin judge that clears the way for the Wisconsin Elections Commission to purge as many as 234,000 voters from the state’s voter rolls, it is critical that all voters make sure that they are properly registered before voting this year. Why? Because (1) you may have been removed from the voter rolls, without your knowledge, and (2) you may need to register. If you need to register, there are new requirements for proving your identity.
Conservative effort at voter suppression
If this all sounds confusing, it is, and that is by design. Instead of making it easier for people to vote and instead of ensuring that all citizens can vote, conservative and Republican groups are trying hard to suppress voter turnout. This is something they have been doing for decades. These well-funded, carefully crafted and executed efforts have been aided by sympathetic judges who have ruled in their favor. This latest ruling is a classic effort.
Don’t wait, check your status now
To combat this, we must all ensure that we and all like-minded friends and relatives are correctly recorded on our local voter rolls. Do not wait until election day. Yes, you can register on election day if you find that you are not on the rolls, but you may have trouble doing so because of the identification requirements, which require specific forms of identification. The answer: Confirm your registration status.
As part of a move by a conservative group to eliminate perhaps as many as 234,000 already registered voters from Wisconsin’s voter rolls, WILL, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, is suing the state’s Elections Commission for what it says is its refusal to purge voters from the rolls.
A court hearing on the suit was expected to begin today (Friday, Dec. 13). Countering the WILL suit are a number of voting rights organizations, including the League of Women Voters.
WILL contends that the voters no longer live at the addresses on the voter rolls and thus should be purged.
According to an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the voter purge would cause tens of thousands of voters to be removed from the rolls, and would disproportionately affect Democratic voters in large cities and on college campuses.
“The state sent letters to more than 35,500 of Milwaukee’s nearly 290,000 registered voters, or 12%. Similarly, it sent letters to more than 18,000 of Madison’s nearly 173,000 registered voters, or 11%,” the Journal-Sentinel reports.
Here is what Sen, Tammy Baldwin had to say after receiving a letter from a constituent asking if she supported the For the People Act:
“The American people need to trust that their government is working for them, not the powerful special interests in Washington. Hardworking American families are struggling to get ahead and can’t afford to have special interests in a cozy relationship with the government. The time is now to take bold legislative action that reforms our political system, increases transparency and restores faith in our democracy.
“That is why I am a proud cosponsor of S. 949, the For the People Act – a sweeping package of reforms that would fix our broken political system and make government work for the people. This landmark legislation would restore the promise of American democracy by making it easier to vote, ending the dominance of big money in politics and ensuring that public officials work for the public interest.
“The right for every citizen’s voice to be heard through the ballot box is the cornerstone of our democracy. S. 949 improves access to voting through expansion of voter registration and early voting methods while fighting back against the assault on voting rights like voter roll purges and discriminatory ID laws. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.
“We must also reform the way we finance our campaigns and end the rule of big money in our elections. The For the People Act will shine a light on dark money by requiring political organizations to disclose their donors, levels the playing field for small donors and strengthens regulation and oversight by Congress and the Federal Elections Commission. This allows everyday Americans to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world.
“In addition, this legislation helps to ensure that government officials are working on behalf of the common good, not powerful special interests. S. 949 includes my Executive Branch Conflict of Interest Act, which slows the revolving door between corporations, Wall Street and Washington. It also prohibits “government service golden parachute” bonus payouts, strengthens ethics requirements, and combats conflicts of interest.
“On March 8, 2019, the House passed its version of the For the People Act, H.R. 1, and the bill now awaits action in the Senate. Please be assured of my support for this legislation that helps to restore our democracy and put power back in the hands of the American people where it belongs.
“Once again, thank you for contacting my office. It is important for me to hear from the people of Wisconsin on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at www.baldwin.senate.gov for information on how to contact my office.”
Matt Rothschild, executive director, The Democracy Campaign, spoke in Ripon last year at a meeting organized by the League of Women Voters of the Ripon Area.
How different would Wisconsin be would be if Scott Walker hadn’t defeated Tom Barrett the first time?
How different would Wisconsin be if Walker lost the recall?
How different would America would be if Hillary Clinton, who could do the job of president in her sleep, had beaten Donald Trump?
Apologies to Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, for co-opting the questions. He asked them recently in a presentation to the American Association of University Women-Wisconsin.
Rothschild presentation was titled, “Why Voting is Important Especially When It Doesn’t Seem to Make a Difference.”.
He started with the questions (edited slightly above) and then added:
“But instead we got this clinical narcissist. But that’s not the worst thing about him. The worst thing about him is that he’s the closest thing we’ve ever had to a fascist in the White House. He traffics in racism and ultranationalism, which are the sperm and the egg of fascism, and he’s doing some in vitro fertilization right there in the Oval Office.”
The final results are in and as expected, Health Care and the Environment, the early leaders in the Green Lake County Dems & Friends poll of attendees at the just concluded Green Lake County Fair, were the final two top issues of concern.
The poll, admittedly unscientific and definitely unofficial, but lots of fun, closed Sunday at the end of the 4-day fair run.
So, who participated in our poll? Well, young and old, male and female, Democrat and Republican (including 6th District Congressman Glen Grothman, a Republican and a good sport), and a group of young 4-Hers who, while too young to vote in real elections, cared enough about the issues to register their votes with us.
As indicated, Health Care, with 168 votes, was the top issue of concern, with the Environment close behind at 160. The Environment, as the table below shows, was the leader after the first day, but Health Care rallied and led the rest of the way.
Education finished third with 129 votes.
Agriculture was third with 65 votes, followed closely by Voting Rights with 60.
Everyone who voted was encouraged to make two choices with the provided smiley faces; most did.
While the rain Saturday night ended the polling prematurely, attendees at the Green Lake County Fair still demonstrated a lot of interest in Green Lake County Dems & Friends’ unscientific, completely unofficial poll to learn what issues were of the most concern to voters heading into the 2020 election year.
Health Care, the No. 2 issue after the first two days of voting–the Environment was No. 1–is the new leader with a three-day total of 145 votes. The Environment is now No. 2 with 136 votes.
Helping Health Care take over the top spot was a relatively large margin on Saturday. Health Care had 52 votes Saturday before the rain came, while the environment had 33 votes Saturday.
The No. 3 top issue after three days? Education with 111 votes.
Check out the table below for the day-by-day totals, plus the grand totals for the first three days of the four-day event.
Fairgoers participating in the Green Lake County Dems & Friends poll on Friday said that Health Care was their top issue or concern. Second was the Environment.
This is a reversal of Thursday’s results, where the Environment was the first day leader with 44 votes
Health Care earned 63 votes Friday, the largest one-day total so far. A close second on Friday, was the Environment with 59 votes.
This means that after two days, the Environment is still the overall leader with 103 votes. Health Care’s two-day total is 93.
See the table below for more information on the vote totals. Our poll, which is new this year, is an admittedly unscientific and unofficial undertaking. So, what. We and the fairgoers participating in the poll are having fun, while also gaining some insights into the opinions of those attending the fair.
The early results are in and attendees at the Green Lake County Fair have spoken.
Their top issues of concern heading into the 2020 elections are (drum roll please) the Environment and Health Care.
Next up: Voting rights and education.
Although it was expected to be one of the leaders, the Environment, with 44 votes, had a 14-point lead over Health Care’s 30 after the first day of the fair in this unscientific, unofficial, but extremely fun poll.
Although the big lead for the Environment and Health Care was a bit of a surprise (some observers felt it would be closer), these vote totals are only for day one of the four-day annual event.
Today’s results could end up making the race closer. Today could also see voting rights (and its allied issues, such as redistricting) and education close the gap.
Trailing the leaders, after the first day, was Agriculture with 12, Infrastructure with 8 and Other with 5.
In total, 140 votes were cast on Thursday, the fair’s opening day.
Voting (such as it is) continues today, Saturday, and Sunday. Look for the final results Sunday night.
There are 72 counties in Wisconsin. Forty-seven of the counties, well more than half, have passed resolutions in favor of nonpartisan redistricting or gerrymandering.
Green Lake County is one of the holdouts.
At the Green Lake County Fair, now underway in Green Lake, the Green Lake County Dems & Friends are asking fairgoers to sign petitions urging fair maps that will be presented to the County Board.
Green Lake County Dems & Friends chair Linda Wilkens says she and the local Democratic Party organization are hoping that the county board will add Green Lake County to the list of counties that are responding to citizen demands.
She points to a Marquette University Law School poll taken earlier this year that suggested that 72 percent of Wisconsin’s voters support gerrymandering and nonpartisan redistricting. In addition, those 72 percent said they support a nonpartisan redistricting process such as the one now used in Iowa. Finally, 62 percent of all Republicans in Wisconsin are in favor of this approach.
For more on the issue of fair maps and nonpartisan redistricting, check out these articles:
Brian Hagedorn, who is running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, will speak at Ripon College, on Monday, March 11.
His talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall. It is free and open to the public.
Ripon College Republicans is [sic] hosting Hagedorn’s talk.
Hagedorn is running for the State Supreme Court in the election on April 2. His opponent is Judge Lisa Neubauer.
Hagedorn is a judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, serving in the court’s Waukesha-based District II since Aug. 1, 2015.
Hagedorn served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Scott Walker for almost five years, where he managed litigation in partnership with the attorney general, served as the top ethics officer for the administration, advised on legal policy issues, oversaw judicial and district attorney appointments, and provided legal analysis on proposed legislation.Walker appointed him to the bench in 2015 and won election to a new six-year term in April 2017. He was appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to serve on the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which oversees enforcement of the judicial code of ethics.
He also has served as an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, a law clerk for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, and as an attorney in private practice for a Milwaukee law firm.