Ugliness Inside the Capitol, Signs of Hope Outside

In this update: 1. Budget writers raid clean elections fund to pay for voter suppression 2. Politically diverse citizen coalition comes together on redistricting 3. Editorial: The more light the better 4. The main difference between Vermont and Wisconsin Ugliness Inside the Capitol, Signs of Hope Outside

Email date: 5/26/11

In this update:
1. Budget writers raid clean elections fund to pay for voter suppression
2. Politically diverse citizen coalition comes together on redistricting
3. Editorial: The more light the better
4. The main difference between Vermont and Wisconsin

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Budget writers raid clean elections fund to pay for voter suppression
On straight party lines, the Legislature’s budget writing committee voted this week to eliminate all funding for public financing of state elections and divert the money to help cover the cost of implementing the new law requiring voters to have a state-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Despite the fact there have been no documented instances of voter impersonation in Wisconsin, the state will be spending millions of dollars on a new state program that will disenfranchise some voters and unnecessarily burden many others. To add insult to injury, elected officials want to kill a decades-old program aimed at maintaining fair and clean elections in order to pay for this waste of taxpayer money. To add disrespect to the insult and injury, all who checked the box on their income tax form designating some of their taxes to the clean campaign fund will have their money used instead for what amounts to a policy of poll taxation if the committee's budget amendment becomes law.

To read more reaction from the Democracy Campaign to this disturbing development, go here. The Capital Times ripped the committee’s action in an editorial published today.

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Politically diverse citizen coalition comes together on redistricting
Go to the State Capitol any day of the week, and it is painfully apparent that Republicans and Democrats aren’t working well together. Hell, they can't even be civil to one another. But leave the building and evidence can be found that bipartisanship is not impossible even in today's highly polarized and bitterly divided political environment. A new group concerned about how political districts are drawn is the latest proof. An impressive collection of Republicans, Democrats and independents have come together to form Make Our Votes Count in hopes of improving the redistricting process. You can add your name to this citizen coalition by going here.

The Democracy Campaign is delighted to see this distinguished group of former legislators, cabinet secretaries, administration officials, party leaders, journalists, academics and citizen activists join the fight for more open, accountable and fair redistricting. For more on why we are convinced that redistricting reform is of the utmost importance, go here and here.

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Editorial: The more light the better
The Sheboygan Press printed an editorial earlier this week highlighting the MapLight Wisconsin project, of which the Democracy Campaign is a part. Here’s hoping a great many people will bookmark this site and use the new tool often.

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The main difference between Vermont and Wisconsin
It’s hard not to notice that as Wisconsin lawmakers continue a steady march away from the state’s progressive traditions, Vermont is adding to its rich history of progressive reform. This week Vermont becomes the first state in the nation to implement single-payer health care.

It is no coincidence that this is happening in one of the only places in the U.S. with full public financing of state elections. Enable politicians to kick their addiction to special interest campaign money and they are free to do the people’s will on health care and so much else.