This has been a tough year for the integrity of our democracy.
Actually, it’s been a tough decade. In 2012, the majority party drew legislative maps in secret and funded the effort with taxpayer dollars. We now have one of the most gerrymandered maps in history. Despite a majority of Wisconsinites voting for Democrats in Assembly races in 2018, Republicans maintain a 63-36 majority.
But it didn’t end with the national embarrassment of our gerrymandered maps. Closing polling locations, kicking voters off the rolls, not doing enough to make voting safe in a pandemic, false rhetoric about voter fraud, court challenges to change election deadlines — the list goes on.
Now in 2020, as we are staring down a contentious election, there are even more concerted efforts to sow confusion and spread misinformation to voters in an attempt to tamp down the will of the people.
The last few years serving as a state representative, I’ve been asked more than once how I keep on going in this uphill battle. The reason I stay focused and hopeful is the same reason I wanted this job in the first place — the people.
As an elected official, my job is to listen to the people of my district and speak for them. I work for the residents of the 74th Assembly District, and I hear them when they say they value fair and open government.
The truth is, Wisconsin is historically a state that will support working toward a better, more democratic future. It’s true we are the state of contradictory figures, like the disgraced Senator Joseph McCarthy on one hand, and the progressive Senators Gaylord Nelson and Robert Lafollette on the other. But the voters of Wisconsin did not send McCarthy back to the Senate after his un-American witch-hunt, and Nelson and Lafollette were distinguished legislators and governors who are remembered fondly today.
Even as I discuss issues like gerrymandered maps, I lay the blame at power-hungry GOP leaders, not Wisconsin Republicans by and large. Most voters of both political parties support nonpartisan legislative maps — 51 of 72 counties in the state have endorsed fair maps, including counties that voted for Trump in 2016.
At the end of the day, Wisconsinites of all political stripes believe in democracy, and they will make their voice heard. Our state has one of the highest rates of voter participation in the nation, and even in the midst of a deadly pandemic, I believe the dedication to civic duty will not falter. We are also fortunate to have such dedicated civil servants, such as our municipal clerks and mail carriers, who are working hard to make sure our elections are secure and votes are counted.
Please, don’t give in to those who are trying to take away your voice. Vote, call your representatives, write to your newspapers, talk with your neighbors and friends, and read credible news sources on the topics of today. Stay engaged and don’t lose faith.
If you need to check your registration, find your polling place, make sure you have the right ID, or have any other voting questions, please visit myvote.wi.gov.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about state government, you can also email me at email@example.com or give my office a call at (608) 266-4690.