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In the News This Week

Appeals court reinstates drop boxes for Wisconsin's February primary
Shawn Johnson, WPR
Published on: 1/24/2022
Court temporarily blocks a lower court's order, saying it would have led to confusion and potential disenfranchisement

A state appeals court has temporarily blocked a judge's order that would have banned the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin.

The court issued its decision Monday afternoon. Assuming it stands, it would mean drop boxes can continue to be used for Wisconsin's Feb. 15 primary.
Wisconsin Justice Department appeals judge's drop box ruling
Published on: 1/21/2022
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Justice is appealing a judge's ruling restricting the use of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed notice with Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren on Thursday that he is appealing Bohren's ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeals. The judge ruled Jan. 13 that drop boxes can be located only in local election clerks' offices and no one other than the voter may deposit an absentee ballot in them.
Judge rules absentee voting boxes not allowed in February primary
Corinne Hess, WPR
Published on: 1/21/2022
Legal advocacy group Law Forward immediately filed an appeal.

A Waukesha County judge ruled Friday that absentee ballot drop boxes won’t be allowed in the Feb. 15 primary, despite testimony from the Wisconsin Elections Commission that changing the rules this close to an election will be confusing for voters.
Wisconsin Supreme Court justices offer hints at 'least changes' approach in redistricting hearing
Shawn Johnson, WPR
Published on: 1/21/2022
Their ruling could decide the state's political maps for the next decade.
Wisconsin Supreme Court justices offered hints Wednesday about how they might view a "least changes" approach to redistricting in a case that could decide the state's political boundaries for the next decade.

Voting Rights News

Wisconsin elections commission pushes back on nonpartisan audit
Laurel White, WPR
Published on: 12/1/2021
Commissioners argue Legislative Audit Bureau report contains several inaccuracies
Members of Wisconsin's bipartisan state elections agency sharply criticized a nonpartisan audit of the 2020 election on Wednesday, arguing the report contains several errors.

The Republican-ordered audit was released in late October. It found no widespread voter fraud or wrongdoing in the election, but made dozens of recommendations for updating state policies and state laws related to elections. It also alleged the Wisconsin Elections Commission issued several pieces of guidance to local election officials during the COVID-19 pandemic that conflicted with state law. The commission has faced sharp criticism from GOP lawmakers in recent weeks as a result of the audit, including calls for its administrator to resign.
Michael Gableman reveals staffers in GOP-backed election investigation
Corrinne Hess, WPR
Published on: 12/1/2021
Former Trump administrator, head of Wisconsin Voter Alliance on payroll for taxpayer-funded effort

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has revealed most of the staff working on an investigation into Wisconsin’s 2020 election. Gabelman has refused to answer questions regarding staff in the past.

During testimony Wednesday in front of state lawmakers, Gableman said his team members are paid between $40 an hour and $10,000 a month with taxpayer money.

Members include a former Trump administration official and the head of the Wisconsin Voter Alliance, which unsuccessfully asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the results of Wisconsin's presidential election and force the Legislature to certify the state's presidential electors instead.
GOP candidate Rebecca Kleefisch files lawsuit against Wisconsin Elections Commission
Laurel White
Published on: 11/15/2021
Lawsuit asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to immediately suspend 2020 elections commission guidance

GOP candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch filed a lawsuit Monday against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, calling on the state Supreme Court to suspend guidance the commission issued to local election officials ahead of the 2020 election.
What 2021's recent elections tell us about voting in 2022 and beyond
Miles Parks
Published on: 11/14/2021
The American voting system is in the middle of a seismic shift, as state legislators propose and pass a flurry of laws restricting and expanding voting, and candidates navigate an electorate where a sizable portion of voters think the whole process is rigged.

Last week's elections gave us our first insights into this new playing field in 2022 and beyond.
Disability rights advocate on voting in nursing homes during the pandemic
WPR, Rachel Vasquez
Published on: 11/2/2021
The Racine County Sheriff is raising suspicions of voting improprieties in local nursing homes during the 2020 election, but disability rights advocates are pushing back. We talk to one about the special voting deputy program, and ways to improve ballot access for people living with disabilities.
Nonpartisan review of Wisconsin's 2020 election finds no widespread fraud
Laurel White, WPR
Published on: 10/22/2021
Legislative Audit Bureau recommends dozens of changes to state election laws, policies

A highly-anticipated nonpartisan report on Wisconsin’s 2020 election has found no widespread voter fraud or wrongdoing, but made dozens of recommendations for updating state policies and state laws related to elections.

The 168-page audit by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, initially ordered by the GOP-controlled Legislature in February, was released Friday morning. It found the Wisconsin Elections Commission didn’t follow some state laws in 2020, including things like failing to get electronic voter registration signatures from transportation officials, but that there weren’t widespread instances of people committing voter fraud or officials’ actions affecting large numbers of votes.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act will be voted on soon. Here's what to know.
Sara Swann
Published on: 8/23/2021
As the House returns from recess this week, Democrats will make their latest push for a major upgrade to voting rights protections nationally.

The long-awaited John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama last week, and House Democratic leaders say a vote on the bill is imminent.

Voting rights advocates believe the VRAA would provide critical protections for minority voters at a time when many states are enacting new limits on voting access. But like the For the People Act, it's unclear how the VRAA will overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
Death Threats And Conspiracy Theories: Why 2020 Won't End For Election Officials
Miles Parks, WPR
Published on: 8/17/2021
It's been more than nine months since Election Day 2020, but as the nation's top election officials met in Iowa over the weekend, it was clear the shadow of that race will stretch far into the future of American democracy.

The conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from former President Donald Trump has upended almost all aspects of election administration: Local officials who a decade ago would have gone about their bureaucratic business in relative anonymity are facing threats and intense pressure, and a large chunk of American voters have no confidence the system is fair.

"This is the very unfortunate new normal," said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, who had dozens of armed protesters visit her home in December after last year's election.
Gov. Tony Evers Vetoes 6 GOP-Backed Election Bills
Laurel White, WPR
Published on: 8/10/2021
Proposals Responded To Republican Criticism Of 2020 Election

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed six Republican-backed bills on Tuesday that would have changed election laws in Wisconsin, saying the proposals would have put up too many additional barriers to voting.

The bills were part of a package of 10 proposals unveiled in February that were largely in response to Republican criticism of how the 2020 election was administered in Wisconsin. They passed the Legislature in June on party-line votes, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against.
Roughly 206K People Removed From Wisconsin Voter Rolls In Routine Maintenance
Laurel White
Published on: 8/4/2021
Voters Removed After 4 Years Of Inactivity, Possible Moves
LWVWI Recommendations on WEC Biennial Accessibility Report
Published on: 8/1/2021
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin (LWVWI) recommends changes to improve the voting experience for eldery voters and voters with disabilities while a report released by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) outlines measures that have improved the accessibility of Wisconsin’s polling places,It is clear the WEC has worked closely with disability advocacy groups and several Wisconsin clerks to take strides to make elections more accessible despite the pandemic. However, despite these efforts the report makes it apparent that accessibility continues to be an issue at polling sites across the state.
Wisconsin voting laws: What local election clerks think of proposed bills
Hope Karnopp, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published on: 7/15/2021
Bills to change voting rules have been moving through the Legislature. Here are the views of local election clerks.
Monmouth Poll: Public Supports Both Early Voting And Requiring Photo ID to Vote
Published on: 6/21/2021
One-third remain convinced of 2020 election fraud
West Long Branch, NJ – Most Americans support both easier access to early voting and requiring photo identification to vote, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. The public is more divided on expanding vote-by-mail, although a majority would like to see some national voting guidelines established for federal elections. The poll also finds that only one-third of the public believes “audits” of the 2020 election results are legitimate efforts to uncover irregularities. Moreover, one-third of Americans continue to believe Joe Biden won the presidency only due to voter fraud – a steady trend since November that underlines the crystallization of our nation’s deep partisan divide.
Getting There is Half the Battle: Wisconsin’s Photo ID Law, Access to DMV Services, and...
All Voting Is Local, LWVWI, WI Disability Voter Coalition
Published on: 6/2/2021
Wisconsin’s lack of access to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a deliberate barrier for voters to get the photo ID needed to cast a ballot.

Since passing one of the most restrictive photo ID laws in the nation in 2011, Wisconsin officials have only made it harder to obtain an ID needed to vote. This report shines a light on the barriers to DMV service centers – especially for Wisconsinites of color, people with disabilities, and older adults — many of whom are nondrivers.
La Crosse’s 16 potential voter fraud cases reveal an unintentional mistake
Jordan Fremstad, WKBT News
Published on: 5/31/2021
La Crosse County DA says 16 voters used the wrong address causing the city to flag them as potential voter fraud
WI Supreme Court Upholds Halt to Voter Rolls Purge
LWV of Wisconsin
Published on: 4/20/2021
In a complete victory for voters’ rights, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled in a 5-2 decision that a purge of the state’s voter rolls cannot proceed. This ruling prevents tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters from being removed.

Wisconsin’s highest court has shut down this attempt to unlawfully purge voters from the rolls, finding that the relevant statute is directed at municipal clerks, not the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

This decision permanently blocks the Wisconsin Elections Commission from removing voters flagged in the 2019 ERIC list from the state’s voter rolls.

Fair Maps

Wisconsin Supreme Court promises 'least changes' approach to redistricting
Shawn Johnson, WPR
Published on: 11/30/2021
The Wisconsin Supreme Court's conservative majority handed Republicans a major victory in the legal fight over redistricting Tuesday, ruling that the court would take a "least changes" approach to redrawing the maps that Republicans passed in 2011.
Evers vetoes Republican-drawn redistricting maps
Bridgit Bowden, WPR
Published on: 11/19/2021
'They're gerrymandering 2.0,' Evers says, as maps head to court

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed Republican-drawn political maps Thursday, setting the stage for a legal battle which will decide Wisconsin's legislative and congressional districts for the next decade.

The maps, passed last week by the Legislature, were described by Republicans as a "least changes" approach, retaining as much as possible of the previous maps while adjusting for population. The previous maps, passed in 2011, have been described by experts as among the most severe partisan gerrymanders in the country.
New city council maps narrowly pass committee with claims that county 'strong-armed' city
Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune, 11.3.21
Published on: 11/5/2021
The Judiciary & Administration Committee approved the resolution on a 4-3 vote, two of those opposing votes coming from council members who would be displaced by the new maps.

The resolution specifically is set to approve and adopt the new aldermanic, or city council, district boundaries. The city’s new voting wards, which make up aldermanic districts, were approved last month and cannot be changed at this point, officials said.

The city’s new proposed maps mirror those already drawn by La Crosse County, keeping the county supervisory districts “coterminous” with the city’s aldermanic districts, or sharing the same boundary. This helps eliminate voters going to multiple polling places for different elections, a top priority of officials leading the redistricting process.
LWVWI Among Wisconsin Groups Filing Redistricting Challenge
Published on: 8/24/2021
Wisconsin Groups File Redistricting Challenge

Yesterday, Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Law Forward, Inc. and Stafford Rosenbaum LLP filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on behalf nonpartisan groups and individual voters challenging Wisconsin’s state legislative map, which the 2020 Census has revealed to have unequally populated districts. The suit asks the court to strike down the current maps as unconstitutional and implement new maps that do not violate the rights of voters, given the likelihood the legislature and governor are unable to agree on new maps.
New Lawsuits Ask State, Federal Courts To Handle Wisconsin Redistricting
Shawn Johnson
Published on: 8/23/2021
Two new lawsuits filed Monday asked courts to get involved in Wisconsin's next round of redistricting, including one by a conservative group telling Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices that they could potentially redraw the state's political lines themselves....A coalition of groups that have worked with Democrats on redistricting, including Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, Voces de la Frontera and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed their own lawsuit in the same federal court Monday, likewise telling judges that they might need to draw the map.
Democrats File First Wisconsin 2021 Redistricting Lawsuit
Laurel White, WPR
Published on: 8/13/2021
Democrats filed the first Wisconsin lawsuit related to the 2021 redistricting process on Friday, arguing a federal court should step in to draw the state’s next set of political maps because state lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers are unlikely to reach a timely consensus on the matter.
Redistricting Battle Officially Begins In Wisconsin With Release Of Census Data
Laurel White, WPR
Published on: 8/12/2021
The partisan battle over Wisconsin’s next round of redistricting officially began on Thursday with the release of 2020 U.S. Census data to states.

Though high-level numbers were released in April, the data released Thursday includes the numbers necessary for local and state governments to begin drawing the next set of government district maps across the Wisconsin. Local governments will be in charge of maps for city and county government, while state lawmakers will draw new district lines for the state’s 99 Assembly seats, 33 Senate seats and eight congressional districts. The maps will be in effect for 10 years after they are drawn.
La Crosse County prepares for 'compressed' deadline to draw new maps
Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune
Published on: 7/16/2021
After Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican bill to delay redistricting deadlines for local communities, La Crosse County officials are preparing to draw new maps before the end of the year despite late census data.
Participate in Redistricting Process
Leslie Wegener
Published on: 7/4/2021
Residents of the 3rd Congressional District are urged to get involved in the process of drawing the next congressional district maps for WI. Between now and July 30, visit the PMC online ( and speak out about the community that matters to you: where you live, concerns you have, places of importance, boundaries to recognize. Let the PMC know what communities you think should be kept together and why.
Reject Partisan Redistricting at All Levels
Maureen Freedland
Published on: 6/23/2021
Concerns have been raised that the La Crosse County Board should reapportion districts following the 2020 census with a committee based more on political affiliations.

Political partisanship, however, should not be part of the drawing of local maps for the County Board, a nonpartisan body.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Proposal To Change Redistricting Rules
Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio
Published on: 5/14/2021
Justices on Wisconsin's Supreme Court have rejected an effort by conservatives to change the rules for the next round of redistricting, denying a petition that would have required all redistricting lawsuits to run through them.
Mary L Nugent: Join in discussion for independent mapping
Mary L. Nugent
Published on: 5/2/2021
Wisconsin voters deserve a nonpartisan, transparent map drawing process for redistricting in 2021. Passed referenda and resolutions throughout the state demonstrate that over 70% of Wisconsin voters want a nonpartisan mapping process so every vote counts.

May 2-5, you have an opportunity to view “Can You Hear Us Now,” a documentary that explains the effects of gerrymandering in Wisconsin. This film is presented by a nonpartisan coalition of organizations in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.
Judge Blocks Lawmakers from Hiring Outside Lawyers for Redistricting
Shawn Johnson, WPR
Published on: 4/29/2021
A judge has voided contracts Wisconsin Republican lawmakers reached with two private law firms to handle redistricting, ruling the state Legislature can't hire its own attorneys until there's a lawsuit pending.

LWVLA Letters to the Editor

LWV Program to Discuss Efforts to Meet Policing Challenges
Mary Nugent
Published on: 10/10/2021
In support of local engagement in criminal justice and policing policy, the League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area (LWVLA) is sponsoring programs with area law enforcement leaders.
Celebrate National Voter Registration Day
Barb Roberts
Published on: 10/10/2021
We hope that many Americans across the country will celebrate National Voter Registration Day on September 28 by getting themselves ready to cast a ballot.
LWV Program to Focus on County Criminal Justice System
Mary Nugent
Published on: 9/12/2021
Tuesday, Sept. 14, the League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area is hosting the first of its monthly 2021-2022 Lunch and Learn programs with a focus on the La Crosse County Criminal Justice Management System.

Four members of the Criminal Justice Management Council – Judge Scott Horne, DA Tim Gruenke, County Board Supervisor Margaret Larson, and Professor Suthakaran Veerasamy -- will share their perspectives about the progress made in the past 10 years as it relates to diversion, inclusion, equity and transparency. They then will focus on the progress they would like to see in the next 10 years.
Supporting New Surface Water Quality Criteria
Robin Schmidt
Published on: 8/22/2021
This is just one step toward better management and regulation of these “forever” compounds. The League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area is therefore in support of implementing the new surface water quality criteria. We applaud the DNR for initiating this rule and urge the Legislature to allow DNR to continue in an expeditious manner as possible in drafting this rule.

Environmental News

DNR scraps groundwater protection effort; rulemaking process blamed
Chris Hubbuch | Wisconsin State Journal
Published on: 11/19/2021
After two years of work, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has abandoned efforts to protect drinking water from nitrate, the state’s most prevalent contaminant.

In 2019, the governor and the DNR’s policy board approved parameters for the agency to draft new regulations on the use of manure and fertilizer in areas of the state where groundwater is vulnerable to contamination.

The rulemaking process typically takes 30 months and requires signoff from the Legislature.

On Wednesday, the DNR informed its advisory committee that it is scrapping the effort, saying in an email that “the statutory process and associated firm timelines established by the Legislature do not allow adequate time for the department to complete this proposed rule.”
Supporting New Surface Water Quality Criteria
Robin Schmidt
Published on: 8/22/2021
The League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area is ... in support of implementing the new surface water quality criteria. We applaud the DNR for initiating this rule and urge the Legislature to allow DNR to continue in an expeditious manner as possible in drafting this rule.

Take Action

Please Complete: WI Disability Vote Coalition Survey
WI Disabled Voter Coalition
Published on: 5/19/2021
Please take 5 minutes to share your thoughts on voting bills that will make it harder for people with disabilities and older adults to vote. The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition will use the survey results to show legislators how much these bills could affect people’s ability to vote. We are looking for responses from people with disabilities, older adults, and family members.
La Crosse County launching new ways to increase public input for comprehensive plan
Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune
Published on: 5/7/2021
La Crosse County officials are hopeful to increase public participation in crafting its updated Comprehensive Plan in the coming months, launching a series of online tools where residents can weigh in and stay up-to-date on the plan.

The Envision 2050 Comprehensive Plan website was announced Wednesday by the county, stating that public participation is “key” in crafting the long-range plan that envisions a “sustainable and thriving” future for the county.
Caught in the Vortex of Misinformation
Lee Rasch
Published on: 3/8/2021
In the Opinion section of the La Crosse Tribune, Lee Rasch, Executive Director of LeaderEthics-Wisconsin, offers actions we can take to "help avoid the spread of misinformation."