Who Needs to Vote?

In this update: 1. Legislative hopefuls lean on wealthy outsiders to fund campaigns 2. A road map to better judicial campaigns 3. Hearing set for today on attorney general’s voter lawsuit 4. Help WDC track down who’s doing the campaigning in state elections Who Needs to Vote?

Email date: 9/18/08

In this update:
1. Legislative hopefuls lean on wealthy outsiders to fund campaigns
2. A road map to better judicial campaigns
3. Hearing set for today on attorney general’s voter lawsuit
4. Help WDC track down who’s doing the campaigning in state elections

If you total up every last one of the donors in the Democracy Campaign’s database of contributors to state campaigns, they amount to 1% of the voting age population of the state. And a new analysis we issued today shows that $2 out of every $3 candidates for the state Legislature receive from this elite cross section of the population comes from people who cannot vote for them because the donors do not live in the candidates’ districts.

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Lawmaking is not the only thing that’s become vulnerable to outside special interest control because of Wisconsin’s broken campaign finance system. Our court system and the way laws are interpreted and enforced are at risk too. That’s why reforms like the Impartial Justice bill are needed to free judicial candidates from the money chase and mounting pressure from wealthy interests intent on bending justice to serve their own purposes. And it’s why new disclosure rules like those the Government Accountability Board plans to consider at its October 6 meeting are needed to protect the public’s right to know who is trying to influence our elections and make sure interest groups cannot continue to do an end-run around Wisconsin’s disclosure laws and campaign contribution limits.

The broken system that is fouling Wisconsin’s judicial elections surely needs to be fixed so that good judges can run for office and those elected can serve independently and answer only to the law and the constitution when making their decisions. But candidates for judicial office also need to do their part by running dignified and ethical campaigns. To promote such behavior, the Democracy Campaign today joined civic groups in five Great Lakes states in calling on judicial candidates to follow new campaign conduct guidelines that help them steer clear of special interest pressures and political agendas.

To see the nine-page memo mailed to candidates in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, go here.

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A hearing is being held today in Dane County circuit court on Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s lawsuit challenging the way the Government Accountability Board is implementing the state’s new computerized voter registration system. The Democracy Campaign believes the GAB has taken a reasonable and responsible approach to reviewing voter registrations under the new system. WDC also believes the lawsuit, if successful, would create chaos at polling places and would inevitably lead to some voters, and perhaps many, being unjustifiably disenfranchised.

A new Big Money Blog posted yesterday dives deeper and takes a look at what’s underneath the surface of the attorney general’s action.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin also has some good information about the lawsuit posted on its web site.

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Now that the primary election is behind us and the general election campaigns are in full swing, the Democracy Campaign once again will be keeping an eye on the efforts of outside special interest groups to hijack state elections. We need eyes and ears around the state, and we hope you will use our Hijack Hotline to report to us the campaign activity you are seeing in your community. We are interested in hearing about TV and radio ads, mailings, billboards, telephone "robocalls" and any other electioneering activity you become aware of.

Thanks in advance for your help.