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Because democracy is not a spectator sport

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Are You Ready to Vote? A message from the WI League Director

December 30, 2015

ARE YOU READY TO VOTE? By Andrea Kaminski

MADISON + Judging by the headlines, you might think the only election this year is the one that will name President Obama's successor. In fact there will be four important elections in Wisconsin in 2016. In the February 16 primary, voters will select the two top candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court as well as for any local and county races with more than two contenders. On April 5 we will elect the final winner for those contests and also vote for our favorite Presidential candidate to be the nominee of his/her party. The fall partisan primary election will be held August 9 for U.S. Congress and the Wisconsin Legislature. In districts that are heavily Democratic or Republican, the primary election is particularly decisive. On November 8 we will elect the next President along with our state and federal representatives.

Now is the time to get ready to vote. If you have not voted in Wisconsin before, or if your registration has lapsed, you will need to register. If you have a Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card, you will have to provide that number. You will also need proof of residence. To learn more, contact your municipal clerk or go to the Wisconsin voter Information website at myvote.wi.gov.

Once you are registered, you will need a photo ID when you vote. If you have a Wisconsin driver's license or state ID with an expiration date of November 4, 2014 or later, you are all set. For a list of all acceptable IDs, talk to your clerk or go to the Wisconsin photo ID website at bringit.wi.gov. If you don't have a photo ID, you can get one for free. Instructions are on the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin website.

If you need assistance with voter registration or photo ID, contact your local League of Women Voters or the League's state office at 608-256-0827.

Next you'll need to get informed. The League sends a questionnaire to federal, state as well as local candidates in some areas. We will post their answers on our elections website, VOTE411.org. In addition, some local Leagues post voter guides on their individual websites. The League does not endorse or oppose any political candidate or party. We just post candidates' answers verbatim, so voters can make up their own minds.

There are a few things we urge voters not to do: Don't be discouraged if you do not currently possess an acceptable photo ID. The League, the DMV and others are happy to assist you. Don't put much store in 30-second ads about candidates. They often present information out of context, and sometimes it's flat-out false. Look for information from unbiased sources, or get it from the candidates themselves.

Wisconsin is known for high voter turnout, compared to other states. Even so, a relatively small number of eligible citizens actually vote in our elections. At the local, state and national levels, government affects many aspects of our everyday lives. Don't let a small number of citizens choose your representatives. Take a little time now to be sure you are prepared, and then vote in every election.

# 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. The League welcomes women and men across the state as members. With 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin and 800 affiliates across the county, the League is one of the nation's most trusted grassroots organizations. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.

Facebook page

The League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area is now on Facebook! Visit our page at http://www.facebook.com/lwvlacrosse. If you have a Facebook account and want to receive notifications when the page is updated, click the "Like" button, and you will be automatically subscribed.

Past Lunch and Learn Information: Voter Registration and ID Update

Ginny Dankmeyer, LaCrosse County Clerk, gave an update of voting registration requirements and the new voter ID. New voters and any voter with a new address needs to register to vote in the district that they live. They will need to bring with them proof of residence. Examples of this are a current and valid WI Driver's License, a pay stub or an utility bill. For more complete registration information go to: http://www.myvote.wi.gov. On election day, all voters will be required to provide a valid photo voting ID, be able to state their full name and give their address (State It, Show It, Sign It). Examples of valid voting IDs include a WI Driver's License or ID (current or expired after Nov 4, 2014), Certificate of Naturalization or a Driver License receipt. More information on ID can be found at http://www.bringit.wi.gov

Past Lunch and Learn Information: Whitewater Watershed Project

Clear and crisp on the 10th, so was the November noon presentation. At the Radisson Hotel, La Crosse, Sheila Harmes, project coordinator of Whitewater Watershed Organization described this pioneering pilot project, one of four such in Minnesota. Working closely with farmers in Whitewater River area, despite the difficulties of scheduling and coordinating activities of busy, weather-dependent farmers, the project demonstrates how cooperative competition and desire to leave a meaningful legacy can achieve measurable change in the landscape and the river running through it without eroding productivity.

Whitewater Watershed was named a pilot project area for new water quality program as one of four Minnesota watersheds selected. This voluntary program is the result of local, state and federal partnerships and recognizes the efforts of local producers. The program is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of agricultural practices that enhance water quality, while maintaining Minnesota's productive agricultural economy. Under the certification program, farmers who implement and maintain approved conservation plans will be certified and in turn assured that their operations meet water quality goals and standards for 10 years. Check out the organizations work at http://www.whitewaterwatershed.org and a related book recommendation from the presentation: Barnyards and Birkenstocks: Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other by Don Stuart.

LWVLA has joined in the Upper Mississippi ILO effort to promote improvement and maintenance of water quality in our area and downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. LWV policy thinks globally, works out locally.

Voter Services Committee

Interested in Voting Issues? Want to become active in educating the public about Voter Registration or Voter ID requirements? The Voter Services committee is active in providing these opportunities to the public. If interested in joining, contact Nancy Danou, chairperson, nsdanou@viterbo.edu

Become a Special Registration Deputy (SRD)

SRDs are needed! If interested in becoming certified to help register prospective voters, you must be trained and sworn in. Contact Teri Lehrke, City of La Crosse Municipal Clerk, at 608.789.7510 for information on the next training session.

LWV/Upper Mississippi River Region Inter League Organization

Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota Leagues have joined in forming a single group to study and educate the public about Mississippi watershed water issues. Early focus of the group will be on contaminants to the River. Nancy Hill is our representative and Gretchen Benjamin is on the board. If interested, contact the League, Nancy or Gretchen.

EcoMunicipality Issues

A good website for anyone interested in what is happening in the La Crosse area is www.greenlacrosse.com

Immigration

Other Links of Interest