Fair & Clean Elections Issues
“Our democracy only works when we all get involved. People deserve to have a meaningful voice in our democratic process. We need to expand access to voting, fix our broken campaign finance laws, and ensure transparency in government and accountability of our elected officials. I’ve championed these issues as a board member of Common Cause (a democracy watchdog) and a member of the Assembly’s Election and Campaign Finance Committee – and I’ll champion them in the State Senate.”
Restore Wisconsin’s tradition of clean elections. To restore opportunity and fairness to our state, we must wrest control of our government from the special interests who now have far too much power. Dark money has flooded Wisconsin’s elections on behalf of key elected officials – turning our state into a petri dish of extreme legislation on behalf of right-wing special interests. Republicans have, over the last 15 years, dismantled the wall between political campaigns and dark money — allowing coordination that would otherwise be illegal. We must require transparency of all donors in electoral communications and once again prohibit coordination with dark money. We should ban donations from individuals, corporations, and other firms doing business with the state government from contributing in elections ensuring bidding on government contracts are free from monetary influence. We must prohibit fundraising during the budget consideration period, and further restrict contributions from lobbyists.
Strengthen voting rights and eliminate unnecessary barriers to voting. Voting is the most fundamental political right in any democracy. I’ll work to expand access to voting so that all citizens are able to have their voices heard. We will repeal photo ID requirements and prohibit purges of our voter rolls, because these voter suppression tactics have a disproportionate impact on Wisconsinites of color, low-income people, people with disabilities, students, and seniors. We should enact universal adult franchise, meaning that all citizens who are 18 would be allowed to vote without requiring separate voter registration which is an unnecessary relic of Jim Crow laws.
Expand early voting and universal voting by mail to ensure everyone has the opportunity to vote. The more people who vote, the less power special interests have. Everyone should have not just the right to vote, but the realistic ability to cast a ballot. We should mandate statewide expanded early voting options and support local clerks so that people can make a plan to vote when and where it is most convenient for them. I also support universal voting by mail, which is very effective in other states, both at increasing voter turnout and at helping citizens feel informed as they cast their votes. In the absence of universal vote by mail, we must make sure that polling locations are able to accommodate the number of voters, so that people don’t have to wait in long lines to vote. That means having enough ballots, machines, voting booths, and poll workers to make the process efficient.
Restore public financing and low-dollar donation matching program so that everyday people can run for office and win. In general, the candidate who spends the most money wins the race. That gives wealthy self-funders and those backed by billionaires and Super PACs an unfair advantage, and they occupy a disproportionate number of offices. Even candidates who aren’t wealthy often need to spend huge amounts of time fundraising to be successful. This affects not just who can afford to run for office, but the policy decisions they make once in office. Corporate welfare, repealing consumer and environmental protections, and slashing funding for social services – all these policies are bolstered by the big money backers that have a vastly disproportionate stay in our elections. Wisconsin should adopt successful public financing programs used in other states like Minnesota and Maine, so that all citizens – not just the most wealthy and powerful special interests – have a voice in our democracy. Public financing is particularly important for judicial races – we need an impartial, independent judges from the local level to the Supreme Court.
Ensure fair redistricting maps and end gerrymandering. Citizens should select their representatives, not the other way around. I’ve been a longtime supporter of independent, nonpartisan redistricting, and during my time in the legislature I fought to pass legislation to enact an Iowa-style commission for redistricting here in Wisconsin. I support Gov. Evers’ plan for a citizen-led redistricting committee, and I also support legislation to establish a nonpartisan redistricting committee.
Pass election integrity measures. Citizens must have confidence that their votes will actually count. While Wisconsin already requires voter-verified paper ballots, we need to have routine, random audits after every election system to ensure that the paper ballots match any computer or electronic count. Routine audits will help identify computer glitches or potential hacking, while giving Wisconsinites confidence that our election outcomes are accurate. When people feel confident in our electoral system, they are more willing to get involved and vote.
Enact Ranked Choice Voting and other ballot access measures. Democracy works best when citizens have a strong voice. Ranked choice voting, instant runoff voting, multiparty endorsement, and other ballot access measures help voters more clearly express their policy preferences, and ensure that teh candidates who win more closely reflect the will of the people, versus our existing winner-take-all, first past the post system.
Restore the Government Accountability Board to prevent corruption and cronyism. The Government Accountability Board was originally created to serve as a non-partisan watchdog over our elected officials – to oversee both campaign and electoral functions as well as ethics and lobbying. Republican legislators dismantled the GAB in a vindictive move to further consolidate their political power and avoid accountability for their actions, replacing it with separate elections and ethics boards, controlled by partisan appointees. Public functions require oversight, especially to prevent unethical behavior and corruption at the highest levels. I support restoring the Government Accountability Board, and empowering it to investigate elected and appointed officials, as well as violations of our lobbying, ethics, and campaign finance laws.
Advocate to overturn Citizens United. As a former Board member for Common Cause Wisconsin, and one of the authors of the bill to end Citizens United in Wisconsin, I believe we must take an active role in reversing the outsized role of big money – and particularly corporate money – in our political system. Money is not speech – and those with the most money shouldn’t get to shout over the rest of us. While we are bound by US Supreme Court decisions, we should continue advocating for reasonable campaign finance reforms to preserve our democracy, and to make Wisconsin a leader once again in vesting political power in the hands of citizens, not big corporations.
Pass the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The Presidency is the only office in the United States where the loser — the person who gets fewer votes — can actually take office. In the Assembly, I authored the National Popular Vote bill to end “wrong winner” presidencies, which are not rare, having happened four times in 57 presidential elections, and in every 1 out of 7 non-landslide elections. Currently the National Popular Vote compact has passed in states with 196 electoral votes, meaning it will go into effect when enacted by states with an additional 74 electoral votes.