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Elections, Elected Officials and Political Parties
Underage Voting Shows Need To Invest In Voter Education PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:08

univ-student-voteWhile there have been many unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Wisconsin, about seventy 17-year-olds did vote illegally here in the 2016 Presidential Primary. Social media posts may have mislead the teens, but we should not let this incident discourage young citizens by adding further restrictions on voting.


MADISON – It is unfortunate that about seventy 17-year-olds in almost 30 counties illegally voted in the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Primary last April based on misinformation. In our state 17-year-olds may register if they will be 18 by the next election. Unlike in some other states, you have to be at least 18 to vote in Wisconsin. These young citizens could be charged with a felony, but it appears the district attorneys in most counties have elected not to do so.

Since news of the underage voting was published, people have looked for a scapegoat to blame or used the incident to call for additional restrictions on voting. Let’s instead use what we’ve learned to prevent this from happening again, while still encouraging young people to participate in our democracy and not break the law.

Some have blamed social media posts before the Primary, which blurred laws that differ from state to state, for misleading the teens. We doubt anyone misled them intentionally.

The 17-year-olds who voted believed they were allowed to do so. They truthfully provided their birthdate on the registration form. Yes, they signed a form certifying that they would be “at least 18 years old or will be at least 18 years old at the time of the next election” but they thought “next election” referred to the November election. And in some states citizens who are 18 by the November Election can vote in the Primary.

What about the officials who registered these young voters? Shouldn’t they have noticed the birthdate? We have heard that some did and refused to register underage citizens. We have also heard that some were under the same misapprehension as the 17-year-olds.

There have been many unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and some people allege our system is not equipped to catch illegal voting. Yet our existing election safeguards detected this problem and referred it to law enforcement. It is not easy to vote illegally in Wisconsin. You would risk a felony rap subject to fines or imprisonment– and you could lose your right to vote! Further restrictions on voting are not needed to prevent such problems. Instead we need to maintain a strong Wisconsin Elections Commission to continue to detect and investigate irregularities.

To prevent such incidents in the future, the state needs to invest in more voter education and training of election officials. The best antidote to misinformation is good information. Lawmakers should keep this in mind as they consider the substantial staffing reductions proposed for the Elections Commission.

We do not want to let this unfortunate incident discourage enthusiastic young citizens from participating in our government and contributing to a better future. Teens need to know that, even if they can’t vote, they can work on a campaign, become a poll worker, connect people with good information and encourage people to vote. If they do that, we are sure that after their eighteenth birthday they will become lifelong voters.

*****

By Erin Grunze and Andrea Kaminski. Erin Grunze is Voter Education Coordinator and Andrea Kaminski is Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.

 
Voter Suppression Is Real, LWV Continues To Fight It PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Friday, 10 March 2017 13:37

voter-idThe non-partisan League of Women Voters Wisconsin discuss strict voter photo ID laws that suppress voting, Women's History Month, their 2017 Annual Meeting, June 9-10 in Green Bay, and more.


MADISON - A new study by researchers at University of California-San Diego found that strict voter photo ID laws suppress voting by Latinos, African Americans and other American minority groups, resulting in “a growing racial gap” and amplifying the voices of those who are not restricted by the ID requirement. The League believes elections should be free, fair and accessible, and that is why we have fought against photo ID and other restrictive voting laws in Wisconsin and elsewhere.  

It’s Women’s History Month! Carrie Chapman Catt, the founder of the League of Women Voters, and Jessie Jack Hooper, the first president of the Wisconsin League, are among this list of “the most important women in Wisconsin history.” Many more League leaders will no doubt be in the new historical timeline tracing women’s political firsts as elected officials in the state, which is being compiled by Wisconsin Women's Council.

Plan to attend the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s 2017 Annual Meeting, June 9-10 in Green Bay. An updated agenda is on our website.

Finally, we are so grateful for your participation in The Big Share. More than 80 people contributed to our online fundraising event to give us a total of $11,168! This exceeded the amounts raised in past years and blew away our expectations. A sincere thank you from our staff and board to everyone who gave, shared and made The Big Share a BIG Success for LWV WI. (And if you didn’t yet but still want to contribute to the League through The Big Share, you can do so here through Friday.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 March 2017 12:51
 
LWV 'No more tax dollars for gerrymandering' PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Thursday, 02 March 2017 17:59

vote-equalWisconsin's legislative districts have been ruled unconstitutional by a panel of federal judges, and last week Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. The League of Woman Voters says fight back.


MADISON - The framers of Wisconsin's legislative districts, which have been ruled unconstitutional by a panel of federal judges, voted in secret last month to spend taxpayer dollars to have high-priced lawyers write an amicus brief in defense of the gerrymandered districts.

Attorney General Brad Schimel last week appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. All of this will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, and that’s on top of more than $2.1 million already spent to draw the maps in secret and defend them through two lawsuits to-date!

If you find this shocking, contact your own legislators and the legislative leadership:

  • Let them know how you feel about this abuse of power and tax dollars.
  • Tell them Wisconsin can save millions of dollars and create more competitive voting districts in the future by adopting nonpartisan redistricting.
  • Urge them to support two bills – AB 44 and SB 13 – which would have the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau draw the maps.
  • Tell Senator Fitzgerald and Rep. Vos that these bills deserve a hearing. They did not allow hearings for these proposals last session. What are they afraid of?

--To find your own legislators, click here and enter your address under Find My Legislators, next to the little green map of Wisconsin.
--Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)
(608) 266-9171,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
--Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)
(608) 266-5660,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*****

Mark your calendar for the League’s state annual meeting, June 9-10 in Green Bay. Click here for information and registration.

 
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