Midwest Democracy Network http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php We are an alliance of political reformers and policy researchers committed to improving democratic institutions in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. en stephengeinosky@gmail.com Copyright 2009 2009-08-25T16:04:47+00:00 testasdf http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/testasdf/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/testasdf/#When:16:04:47Z asdfas 2009-08-25T16:04:47+00:00 Test http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/test1/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/test1/#When:16:02:08Z asdtfgasddf 2009-08-25T16:02:08+00:00 Maximum wait time for Ohio voters not practical http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/maximum_wait_time_for_ohio_voters_not_practical/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/maximum_wait_time_for_ohio_voters_not_practical/#When:13:47:49Z Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a report Monday concluding it is not practical to establish a statewide maximum length wait time for voters standing in line to cast their ballots. “It is my belief that the answer to what constitutes an ‘unreasonably long line’ is best determined by county boards of elections, presiding judges and poll workers,” said Brunner. “Just as the reasonableness of a line may vary depending upon the county or precinct, so too might it vary depending upon the time of day.” The League of Women Voters of Ohio applauded Brunner’s report for its timeliness and thorough research and assessment of issues. “We anticipate that the [sic] directives issued in 2008 addressing the issue will continue in effect, but believe that there [sic] are additional steps which must be taken,” the LWVO said in a statement Monday. One major issue Brunner’s report expressed about issuing a maximum wait time for voters would be enforcement and penalties. Additional staff may be required to monitor the length of time a voter would be in line and to coordinate enforcement. County boards also asked what would poll workers, presiding judges and boards of elections be required to do if long lines occur. The report also says other issues with a statewide maximum wait time would include a new costly oversight and enforcement. The wait time would also have to be long enough for larger counties, rendering the wait time meaningless for smaller counties. In a survey of Ohio’s 88 county boards on July 17, only one believed a statewide maximum wait time for voters could be established, five of the county boards had established maximum wait times for voters and four considered establishing a maximum wait time. Only 82 county boards responded to the report. Reasons for long lines during elections can be due to underestimated voter turnout, improper resources such as insufficient budget staffing or voting equipment or differences in voting technology. Two states, Arizona and New York, have addressed maximum wait times with policies. Arizona’s policies include a maximum one hour wait time and moving poll workers from one location to another and adding additional voting booths and equipment based on necessity. Election Law & Voting Rights, Reports, Ohio 2009-08-25T13:47:49+00:00 Wisconsin early vote pilot plan put on hold http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/wisconsin_early_vote_pilot_plan_put_on_hold/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/wisconsin_early_vote_pilot_plan_put_on_hold/#When:21:30:18Z The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has announced that it will hold off on piloting a plan next spring that would allow voters to cast ballots 20 days before an election directly into machines that would immediately count the votes.Absentee votes are currently counted until polls are closed on Election Day and can only be filed at one location in a municipality. The five-year, $17.3 million plan is part of a series of proposals to reduce the number of absentee voters, which has increased due to residents trying to avoid long lines at polls. Approximately 500,000 Wisconsin voters, or 20 percent of those who voted, used absentee ballots during the 2008 presidential election. Also, the GAB responded to the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin this week to say that it has edited the draft 2009-2014 Wisconsin Election Administration Plan to remove repeated references to voter fraud in the section on election integrity. There is no evidence of widespread fraud, and another national report was released this week ranking Wisconsin’s election system top-notch.  The LWVWI said they felt Wisconsin’s five-year plan should build on the state’s tradition of clean elections, focusing on how to encourage more citizens to participate, rather than putting the state on a path to increased restrictions on voting. Election Law & Voting Rights, News, Wisconsin 2009-08-21T21:30:18+00:00 Impartial Justice bill passes Wisconsin Senate JCICFR committee http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/impartial_justice_bill_passes_wisconsin_senate_jcicfr_committee/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/impartial_justice_bill_passes_wisconsin_senate_jcicfr_committee/#When:18:48:23Z The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign announced Wednesday the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform and Housing approved legislation that would finance state Supreme Court elections with taxpayer dollars.A qualified Supreme Court candidate who accepts the public financing would receive $100,000 in the spring primary and $300,000 in the spring election. Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (Weston-D) said the Impartial Justice bill, or Senate Bill 40, and its companion bill, Assembly Bill 65, will discourage outside spending from independent groups by giving additional funding equal to any independent expenditures made against the candidate or in support of their opponent.In a statement in January, Decker promised the Senate would act on the bill early in the Spring session.The State Bar of Wisconsin announced their endorsement of the bill on Feb. 6 and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued testimony in support of the bill on May 27.The Impartial Justice bill was previously introduced to Wisconsin Legislature on April 27, 2007 and passed the state’s Senate on Feb. 19, 2008 by a 23-10 vote but was rejected by the Assembly committee on Elections and Constitutional Law on Feb. 27 2008 by a 51-46 vote.The Impartial Justice bill was introduced on Feb. 5 to the JCICFR committee. The bill could be acted on as early as September. Election Law & Voting Rights, News, Wisconsin 2009-08-19T18:48:23+00:00 FOIA improvements signed into law http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/fioa_improvements_signed_into_law/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/fioa_improvements_signed_into_law/#When:22:20:19Z Gov. Pat Quinn signed several changes to the state’s open records act into law Aug. 17 that will give Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan the ability to interpret what records are public and settle disputes over the Freedom of Information Act. Changes made to the act include shortening the amount of time government bodies have to respond to records requests and imposing fines of up to $5,000 to those that wrongfully deny records. The changes do not address language in the act that allows public officials to keep secret “preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations memorandum and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated,” and exemptions for requests that are “unduly burdensome” and “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Read more on the story from the Chicago Tribune here and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform here. Open Government, News, Illinois 2009-08-18T22:20:19+00:00 Network partners among diverse groups agreeing to redistricting principles http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/network_partners_among_diverse_groups_agreeing_to_redistricting_principles/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/network_partners_among_diverse_groups_agreeing_to_redistricting_principles/#When:19:05:36Z The League of Women Voters of the United States issued the news release below moments ago. Independent state-based Network partners signing on to the statement include: Citizen Advocacy Center, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Ohio Citizen Action, TakeAction Minnesota, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The national chapters of the League of Women Voters and Common Cause also signed on to the statement—the Midwest Democracy Network includes state-based affiliates of both organizations in our five-state region. Policy research Network partner organization Brennan Center for Justice at NYU signed on to the statement, along with invidiual academic advisors who have been working with the Network on redistricting, including professors from George Mason University, the Ohio State University’s Election Law @ Moritz and Yale Law School. Redistricting, News, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin 2009-08-11T19:05:36+00:00 Great Recession hits Michigan money-in-politics sector http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/great_recession_hits_michigan_money-in-politics_sector/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/great_recession_hits_michigan_money-in-politics_sector/#When:22:24:15Z It appears that the Great Recession has finally reached the money-in-politics sector of Michigan’s economy. Michigan’s top political action committees (PACs) are accumulating funds at their slowest pace since 2003, according to data compiled by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from reports filed with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. Through July 20th, the state’s top 150 PACs have raised $8.9 million. That total is down by seven percent compared to July 2005 or July 2007, when the top 150 PACs had already raised $9.5 million. The top 150 PACs had raised $7.7 million by July of 2003. Read more of the story here and at the Detroit Free Press here. Campaign Finance Reform, Reports, Michigan 2009-08-07T22:24:15+00:00 Senate confirms Sotomayer http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/senate_confirms_sotomayer/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/senate_confirms_sotomayer/#When:20:37:43Z In a historic 68-31 U.S. Senate vote Thursday, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed the United States’ first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.President Barack Obama selected Sotomayor for the Supreme Court on May 26.Sotomayor will be the 111th person to sit as a Supreme Court justice, and only the third female. The 55-year-old federal judge of 17 years was supported by nine Republicans and all 51 Democrats in the Senate. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, was not present due to his illness, but supported Sotomayor.Democrats have claimed Sotomayor as a fair and impartial judge, while Republicans express concerns about her rulings on gun control and affirmative action.Sotomayor was nominated to replace retired justice David Souter, and is not expected to change the ideological structure of the court.Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Sotomayor on Saturday. Election Law & Voting Rights, Judicial Independence, News, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin 2009-08-06T20:37:43+00:00 MALDEF census launch http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/maldef_census_launch/ http://midwestdemocracynetwork.org/index.php/reports/article/maldef_census_launch/#When:22:15:56Z The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Chicago launched an education and awareness campaign to encourage Latinos in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska to participate in the 2010 Census. Read the news release. Campaign Finance Reform, Open Government, Redistricting, News, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin 2009-08-05T22:15:56+00:00