Elections matter

The first set of data from the 2020 census has been released and the news is somewhat better for Democrats than they had feared. Although reliably blue New York and California are both slated to lose a congressional seat while reliably red Texas will gain two and Florida one, the population shift to the Sun Belt was not as big as some thought it would be. So the elections for Congress in 2022 do not look as dire for Democrats as they could have been. That said, it's important to stress that the outcomes of elections are essentially governed by three processes: 1) the electoral district maps — who draws them and how they are drawn; 2) who is able to vote and who does vote — the rules and regulations around voter registration, the number and distribution of polling places, the rules for early voting and vote by mail, and so on; and 3) who is empowered to count and certify the vote. All three areas are under stress from Republican legislatures nationwide, including our own.

The first concern — who draws the district maps for Congress and for the state legislative houses — has been much in the news over the last few years as cases disputing them have focused on both racial and partisan gerrymandering. To learn more about what is at stake in Wisconsin, come to our "Mopping Up Wisconsin's Map Mess" on Sunday, May 2, from 7pm - 8:30 pm. The event will feature our own 23rd Assembly District representative, Deb Andraca, the lead sponsor of a bill to address gerrymandering in Wisconsin that will soon be introduced in the legislature. The following week, the North Shore Fair Maps Action Team is holding its meeting on Monday, May 10, at 7pm with featured speaker Walter Olson, Senior Cato Fellow and Republican co-chair of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission. Wisconsin was gerrymandered by Republicans. Maryland was gerrymandered by Democrats. The team has invited Mr. Olson to speak because gerrymandering is pursued by both parties when they're in power. No matter where it happens, it hurts us all.

The second concern right now is the barrage of laws designed to make voting harder for people — especially people of color, young people, the elderly, and the disabled — to have access to the ballot box. Such laws restrict the pool of voters by implementing strict voter ID laws, by limiting the use of vote-by-mail, by putting obstacles in the way of registering to vote, by closing or moving polling places, and many other restrictive practices that discourage participation in elections. Many of these practices have already been implemented in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean they cannot be tweaked and tightened some more. So, for example, Republicans are proposing to require people who want to vote early in person to fill out a request for an absentee ballot first and then fill out the certification envelope once they have received a ballot and have voted, doubling the paperwork and the time it takes to complete the process. (Right now, the certification envelope does double duty by acting as the request for the ballot as well as the voter's certification of identity.) There are a number of national groups who are pushing back to try to keep Republicans from further restricting voting rights. And the national press has been following these developments pretty closely.

The third area has received less attention, perhaps because Americans have had faith in the fair administration of elections until now. But as the "audit" currently under way in Arizona (and soon to be repeated, apparently in Michigan) shows, those who count and certify votes have significant power over the outcome of elections. For a deeper discussion of this issue, see Rick Hasen's NYTimes op-ed, "Republicans Aren’t Done Messing With Elections". Hasen explains why the newly passed law in Georgia allowing the legislature to remove county election officials and replace them with people they appoint is so worrisome. Introducing clearly partisan processes and people into the administration of elections undermines efforts to ensure that elections are administered without partisan interference. In effect, it makes it possible to "find" votes or to "uncover fraud" when the outcome is "undesirable." This last concern is deeply troubling.

Right now, Wisconsin's governor, Tony Evers, will veto gerrymandered maps, more restrictive access to voting, and attempts to tamper with clean and fair election administration. But not everywhere is so fortunate. And if we fail to re-elect Governor Evers, we are likely to fall prey to these same efforts to pollute our elections in the future. To stay on top of these issues, follow Rick Hasen's Election Law posts. And sign up for the May 2 gerrymandering event and/or the May 10 North Shore Fair Maps meeting.

The For the People Act (S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are antidotes to much of the mischief taking place in the states. But election and voting issues are hardly the only serious problems we face right now. The Criminal Justice Reform Team is meeting at 6pm TONIGHT to discuss three competing and confusing approaches to much needed reform. The team is meeting with key legislators and tracking the progress of a bill Representative David Bowen is drafting to begin the process of collecting reliable data on various criminal justice practices. Please consider joining to help in this effort. You can still sign up for tonight's meeting.


Tue Apr 27, 2021

Dealing with China Webinar, 12pm - 1pm

A webinar on Dealing with China: a panel discussion on U.S.-China relations under the Biden administration, focusing on national security, economics, and higher education. A link will be sent on the morning of the event. Registration.

Hottest Issues in K-12 Education, 12:15pm - 12:15pm

Pedro Noguera and Frederick Hess, two of the best-known commentators on American education, will talk about their new book: A Search for Common Ground: Conversations About the Toughest Questions in K–12 Education. Click on the words “Watch Now” on the following web page starting any time after 12:15 p.m. on April 27 to view the program.

DNC Virtual Fundraiser, 6pm - 6pm

Virtual conference with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison,and DNC Secretary Jason Rae. They will discuss the DNC’s 50 state strategy, the importance of the midterm elections, and how we arecontinuing to build back better. Video conferencing details will be provided 24-48 hours prior to the event. Levels:Host (Write/Raise) - $5,000 | Friend - $1,000 | Supporter - $250 | Activist - $100. RSVP.

Grassroots North Shore Criminal Justice Reform Meeting, 6pm - 7:30pm

Paul Geenen will report on Gov. Tony Ever’s proposals for criminal justice reform, Sen. Van Wanggaard’s police reform proposals being considered by the Public Safety Committee, and recommendations by Vos’s Speaker Task Force on Racial Disparities. These proposals represent a confusing menu of solutions, many of which have to be approved by both Sen. Van Wanggaard’s committee and the full Senate. We will discuss which proposals stand the best chance of passing. RSVP.

Wed Apr 28, 2021

Community Justice Council, 9:30am - 11am

Milwaukee Community Justice Council Meeting of the Whole will have an Online/Virtual meeting. More information.

Info: Drinking Liberally Glendale, 6:30pm - 9pm

For information on whether the event will take place, check here.

Thu Apr 29, 2021

Sen. Baldwin & Pass the PRO Act, 3pm - 3pm

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, labor economist and professor Gordon Lafer, workers involved in new organizing including Colectivo Coffee, and WI AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale will discuss the Pass the PRO Act, the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. RSVP.

Sat May 1, 2021

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
6th Street & Mitchell Street, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace is resuming in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. This event will celebrate May Day with Voces de la Frontera. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Sun May 2, 2021

Safety for Whom? Racist Policing, 3pm - 4:15pm

A public forum on racist policing in communities and schools, with a keynote by Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP and a panel discussion. This is scheduled for 3pm (CDT) and will be repeated at 7pm. Link.

Mopping Up Wisconsin's Map Mess, 7pm - 8:15pm

Grassroots North Shore will sponsor a virtual event on the topic of gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Statewide Organizer for the Fair Maps Coalition Carlene Bechen, Attorney Mel Barnes from Law Forward, and Representative Deb Andraca will discuss this problem with moderator Debbie Patel. Co-sponsored by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters and the Fair Maps Coalition. Registration.

Mon May 3, 2021

Virtual Drinking Liberally Waukesha, 6:30pm - 6:30pm

Drinking Liberally Waukesha may be held virtually with Zoom. Check for updates.

Tue May 4, 2021

Virtual Drinking Liberally MKE, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Drinking Liberally MKE will get together on Zoom. More information.

Wed May 5, 2021

Info: Laughing Liberally MKE, 8:30pm - 9:30pm

See information on the latest Laughing Liberally offerings.

Thu May 6, 2021

ACLU Action: Broadband and Housing, 7pm - 7pm

The ACLU recently launched its Systemic Equality agenda, a multi-year racial justice agenda seeking to address America's legacy of racism and systemic discrimination. This session of the Systemic Equality Action Series will discuss broadband and housing. RSVP. More information.

Sat May 8, 2021

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Day of Action, 9am - 4pm
"Votercades" and Virtual Activism

On May 8, 2021, a “John Lewis National Day of Action” will ignite public support for restoring the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act and address one of the greatest obstacles to the passage of civil and voting rights - and one of the last vestiges of slavery - the filibuster! We will take the streets with more than 100 “Votercades” in more than 100 cities. On this day, street activism will join virtual activism, introducing a new concept to engage young voters and “next generation voters” through the use of a “Virtual Voter Activist Village.” More information. Sign up to volunteer!

UN Association of MKE, 10am - 12pm

This meeting seems to be suspended for the time being. More information.

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
Layton Avenue & Howell Avenue, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace is resuming in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. This event will be for Black Lives Matter solidarity. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Mon May 10, 2021

Grass Roots South Shore Meeting, 6pm - 8pm
Cudahy Library, 3500 Library Dr. , Cudahy

Grass Roots South Shore holds its monthly meeting on the second Monday of each month. For more information call Jim Balk, 414-218-5944.

North Shore Fair Maps Meeting, 7pm - 9pm

The May 10 featured speaker will be Walter Olson, Senior Cato Fellow and Republican co-chair of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission. Wisconsin was gerrymandered by Republicans. Maryland was gerrymandered by Democrats. No matter where it happens it hurts us all. It's time to #EndGerrymandering. This meeting will also feature speakers from a variety of political perspectives. RSVP.

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