In Wisconsin, Fight for Fair Voting Maps Continues

Fair Maps Wisconsin

On Oct. 31 the Joint Committee on Government Operations held a 9 hour hearing on the latest gerrymandered maps proposed by the Legislature in SB 621. Over 200 people from across Wisconsin came and 100 testified, many waiting hours. NOBODY testified in favor of the maps except Vos and LeMahieu.  North Shore Fair Maps testified about our work with The Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP). WIMAP was formed by a group of citizens from across the state to monitor public map sites and analyze the quality of maps submitted using widely accepted redistricting  criteria, namely proportionality, competitiveness, minority opportunity, compactness, and county splitting.  We found that the Legislature’s Assembly map was the worst of any map submitted in 3 of 5 categories, and it fared worse than the People’s Maps Commission map in every category.  You can view a summary of WIMAP’s findings at A detailed memo was sent to every legislator by their own constituents and WIMAP prior to the votes. These maps deny Wisconsin voters the freedom to cast a ballot that matters.

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Senate voted to approve the maps on Monday, Nov. 8. The Assembly is expected to do the same on Thursday, Nov. 11. Governor Evers has promised to veto the bill, and it will go to the courts. But our fight goes on. We need to continue to build public awareness and pressure that the courts can’t ignore. And we need to continue to press for a public hearing and vote on SB389/AB395, co-sponsored by Rep. Deb Andraca and Sen. Jeff Smith, to establish an independent nonpartisan process for drawing voting maps in order to permanently fix this problem. See Sunday’s Journal-Sentinel excellent editorial on this issue.

Let’s Avoid Becoming a Mad Max Movie

Wisconsin Progress
Last week, President Biden called the fight against restrictive voting laws the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” and directed furious ire at those continuing to spread the “Big Lie” that Trump won the presidential election with the question– “have you no shame?”

We know the answer to that.  They don’t.

Two of America’s worst “Big Liars” are Wisconsin’s own Senator Ron Johnson and Congressman Tom Tiffany.  They, along with the spineless Republican rubber-stamping automatons in our state legislature, have joined the chorus to suppress our vote because they know conspiracy theories alone can’t manifest electoral victories.

Voting is how we avoid civil war.  Instead of fighting each other in a “Mad Max”-like Hobbesian dystopia, we cast ballots.  Voting is the root of civilized society.  Nothing is more important than fair elections, and they’re trying to take that away.

What do you think will happen if they take voting away from us?  The obvious and terrifying answer is civil war.

So we have to fight against that.  Progressives have to fight, parents have to fight, students have to fight, small businesses have to fight, and yes, breweries have to fight.

We hope our loud voice joining Wisconsin’s Fair Maps Coalition to end the gerrymandering that enabled a lunatic like Tiffany to represent us makes a difference when the new decade-long lines are drawn later this year, but we can’t count on that.

Given the infuriating trepidation of the few Democratic U.S. senators who refuse to kill the filibuster and pass voting protections (Manchin/Sinema), the uncertainty we have of our state and federal courts to rule impartially on gerrymandering after having been unfairly packed with conservatives, and the short-sighted defensive posture our own state Democratic party too-often takes that translates into zero funding for progressives #upnorth, we have to assume we’re on our own.

And that’s why the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC exists. We’ve raised over $200K so far to help fight for oft-forgotten progressives in Northern Wisconsin, and our latest campaign is to raise $40,000 to fund a community organizer to help recruit and train progressives to run in county board elections next Spring.

The best way fight is to build a local progressive bench of county board supervisors throughout Northern Wisconsin who will ultimately be ready to run for state and federal office when the time is right, and we need your help to build that bench.

We’ve partnered with a group called Wisconsin Progress that specializes in candidate training and recruitment and together, we raised a total of $7,000 in last week’s launch email.  Once we hit the $20K mark, Wisconsin Progress will start the candidate search.

Please consider donating to this effort.  We think it’s important and can help move the needle in this neglected part of Wisconsin.

How do you donate?  The easiest way is to simply buy our beer or merchandise.  5% of the profits of everything you buy goes towards our Super PAC, including this effort.

If you want your money to go further, please donate directly to the Super PAC here.

If you hate Super PACs or don’t trust us, please donate directly to Wisconsin Progress here.  The link earmarks all money donated to fund this particular position.

Thanks for believing in our shared mission to “Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer At A Time”

Kirk Bangstad, Owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC

Reposted from Minocqua Brewing Company owner and northern Wisconsin activist weekly email

Lake County Voter and Vote By Mail Information

Vote by Mail Without Using the Post Office

Vote by mailIf you plan to vote by mail in the November election, you may drop off your completed ballot at one of the many postage-free drop boxes that will be set up around Lake County. Election judges will collect ballots daily and bring them to the Lake County Clerk’s office for processing.
Due to COVID-19, the Lake County Clerk’s Office encourages all voters to use the vote by mail option and avoid standing in line during early voting or on Election Day.

To vote by mail, you must complete and submit a request for a ballot.  The Lake County Clerk’s Office will begin mailing ballots to those who have requested them beginning Sept. 24.

How to Track your Mail-In Ballot: Track the clerk’s receipt of your mailed ballot by visiting or calling 847-377-2406 or 847-377-VOTE.

How to Vote in Person:  Early voting will be available from Sept. 24 to Oct. 16 at the Lake County Clerk’s Office, 18 N. County St., Waukegan during regular business hours Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Early voting in other locations across the county will be available from Oct. 19 to Nov 2.  On Election Day Nov. 3, polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Make Your Vote Count! Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Vote Buttons
  1. How do I arrange to vote by mail?

If you are a registered voter, you can request a ballot by submitting an “application.” You can do that wholly online or by returning a paper application. If you live in Lake County, go to If you live in Cook County, go to

  1. What if I’m not registered to vote or not sure I’m registered in Illinois?

To find out whether you’re registered to vote in Illinois, go to Or call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683), and a volunteer will check for you.

If you’re not registered in Illinois, and you are a U.S. citizen, will turn 18 years of age by November 3, 2020, will have lived at your address for at least 30 days prior to November 3, and don’t claim the right to vote anywhere else, you may register to vote.

You can register in person with a Deputy Voter Registrar through October 6, 2020. You will need a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID.

Online registration is available through 11:59 pm on October 18, 2020, at You must provide a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the date the license or identification was issued, AND your birth date.

Starting October 19, 2020, you can register to vote at any Early Voting site in your county or, on Election Day, at the polling place assigned to your residential address; however, you must also vote at that time. This process is known as Grace Period Registration or Same Day Registration. You’ll need two pieces of identification, one of which shows your address. Acceptable ID includes a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID and a letter to you at your address from a utility, school, or other official sender. If you have questions about valid forms of id, you can call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683).

  1. I’ve received multiple applications for ballots in the mail. Are they legitimate?

Several Democratic and other civic organizations are mailing ballots to registered voters. You need not worry about the legitimacy of those mailings as long as they call for returning the enclosed application form to your County Clerk’s office (check the address on the return envelope). If you have any questions about an application form you receive in the mail, you can apply online, which you can be sure is official, or call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683) for help.

  1. What is the deadline for submitting an application to request a mail-in ballot?

You can submit the application to request a mail-in ballot any time up until October 29, 2020, but we strongly recommend you do so right away. The earlier you request your ballot, the earlier you can return it, and the more time you’ll have to make sure everything is in order.

  1. How can I make sure my application to request a mail-in ballot was received?

If you live in Lake County, go to, and after filling in your personal information, click the button, “Track My Mail Ballot.” If you live in Cook County, go to, click the button, “What Is My Mail Ballot Status?” and fill in the requested information

  1. When can I expect to receive my mail-in ballot?

Starting on September 24, 2020, County Clerks will mail ballots to all registered voters who previously requested one by submitting an application. If you wait to request your ballot until after October 1, 2020, your County Clerk must mail the ballot to you within two business days of receiving your application. You can use the links in Answer Number 5 to track your application and ballot.

  1. What if I get a mail-in ballot and then decide I want to vote in person?

Just bring your mail-in ballot and certification envelope that came with it (or any parts you can find) to your polling place once in-person voting begins, return them to an election judge, and request a regular ballot to vote then and there. Easy! But having that ballot in hand before the polls are open for in-person voting ensures that if you decide you’d rather not leave home, or if anything else keeps you from the polls, you can still vote.

  1. How do I return my mail-in ballot, and what’s the deadline?

The simplest and safest way to return your mail-in ballot is to place it in a secure drop box. Mail-in ballots must be returned or postmarked no later than Election Day, November 3, 2020, but we encourage you to return yours as soon as possible.

In Lake County, beginning on September 24, 2020, and continuing through Election Day, November 3, 2020, you can return your mail-in ballot by placing it in any of four 24-hour, secure postage-free drop boxes that will be located outside the main entrances of certain branch court buildings. Go to for the exact locations.

The Lake County Clerk also will provide drop boxes at 17 early voting locations throughout Lake County. You can return your mail-in ballot by placing it in any of these drop boxes beginning October 19, 2020, until November 1, 2020, from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Monday, November 2, 2020, five of these drop boxes will be available from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. And on Election Day, November 3, 2020, drop boxes for return of mail-in ballots will be available at two Election Day voting sites from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. For the exact locations of these drop boxes, go to

Cook County also will have drop boxes at early voting sites, starting on October 19. These also will be accessible from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. A complete list of those locations is available at

In addition, Cook County will make drop boxes available beginning October 9, 2020, in six locations—one in the Loop and five at Regional Courthouses in suburban Cook County. Go to for a list of these locations.

A ballot placed in the U.S. mail and postmarked by Election Day will be valid as long as it is received within 14 days after Election Day. Lake County’s ballot takes a regular first-class stamp. If you live in Cook County, your ballot will come with a postage-paid return envelope.

If you choose, you can hand-deliver your mail-in ballot to your County Clerk’s office during normal business hours.

  1. What if I don’t understand how to fill out and return my VBM ballot?

Your VBM ballot will come to you with clear instructions, including illustrations. And closer to September 24, we will post our own illustrated instructions. If you still have questions, call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683), and one of our volunteers will walk you through it.

  1. How can I find out whether my ballot has been received?

If you live in Lake County, go to, and after filling in your personal information, click the button, “Track My Mail Ballot.” If you live in Cook County, go to, click the button, “What Is My Mail Ballot Status?” and fill in the requested information

More questions? Call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline at 847-432-VOTE (8683).

The above information has been provided by Tenth Dems

Mail Dates for The Big Send

Vote Forward

We’ve received a lot of questions about the Post Office and our plans for sending the letters you have written. Here is a statement from Vote Forward, the organizers of our letter writing initiative:


  • We’ve heard your concerns about The Big Send mail date, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure your letters are timed for maximum effect.
  • Many experiments have shown that GOTV messages sent too early are ineffective. Really! Trust us on this. Please send your letters on the official Vote Forward mail date, not earlier.
  • We are preparing to set a new, earlier October mail date for The Big Send. But we only want to change it once, so we will announce the new mail date in late September.

Here is a more comprehensive statement:

When we launched our 2020 GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaigns in January, we did not anticipate that U.S. mail delivery, a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, would become a political issue.

We did not anticipate that record numbers of us would want to vote by mail amid a global pandemic.

We also did not anticipate that Vote Forward’s letter writing efforts would emerge as one of the safest and most effective ways to encourage voters to turn out this fall.

And while we may not have planned for these eventualities, we are busy navigating them to ensure that your letters will be delivered in time to do what they are intended to do: to encourage relatively unlikely voters to cast a ballot in the 2020 general election.

To make certain that your letters are as effective as possible at increasing voter turnout, we will be setting an earlier October mail date.

What we’re doing to set a new mail date

Like you, we’re thinking a lot about recent news stories and the near future of USPS. And we’re keeping a close eye on the lawsuits, appeals, legislation, and electoral policy changes in our key states that affect how and when ballots must be received to be counted.

We’re also collecting a sampling of real life, real-time first-class USPS delivery times from states across the U.S. to our key states; this information is being gathered by Vote Forward volunteers participating in our Mailbox-to-Mailbox: Assessing USPS project. And soon, when we have the data from our recent Vote Forward Labs experiment in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, we’ll have more insight into whether sending “please vote” letters much earlier than planned could dampen the impact of your letters on voter turnout.

Why we’re doing all of this research now

Ordinarily, and in all of the experiments we’ve conducted in the past to show that letters increase voter turnout, we’ve sent them as close as possible to the election without missing it because we know that “please vote” messages fade from memory quickly, and because the relatively unlikely voters we’re encouraging tend to make the decision to vote — or not — close to the last minute.

We also know from a great deal of historical evidence in rigorously conducted experiments that “please vote” messages communicated too early have essentially no effect on voter turnout. We cannot make the mistake of setting a mail date that is so early it results in your letters being ineffectual.

And during the 2020 primaries, we learned that the number of requested absentee ballots sometimes exceeded the number of ballots returned by close to 40 percent on the day before the primary election. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it bolsters our thinking that a Vote Forward letter received days before the ballot return deadline could close this gap.

Why we cannot rush to set a new mail date

We’re writing to voters in 15 different states, with 15 different sets of election rules and deadlines, amid layers of lawsuits to change these rules and deadlines, evolving policy changes by elected and election officials, an uneven postal service, and record vote by mail spikes during a pandemic.

Following all of the above, we can tell you the electoral landscape in our key states continues to change each day. And each day we learn a little more about the status of mail delivery.

What we know about first-class mail and election mail

Some of you have written in, worried about overwhelming USPS by adding 10 million letters to the mailstream on a single day. The USPS Postal Facts for “one day” offers this perspective: USPS processes and delivers 181.9 million pieces of first-class mail each day, and on average, USPS processes 19.7 million mail pieces each hour. Given this consideration, we are planning to stick with a single mail date because staggered mail dates would require system changes, necessitate last moment letter sorting, and introduce unnecessary complexity into our efforts.

Other volunteers have written to say they’re concerned that our letters could delay the delivery of ballots by mail. As things stand, when prepared according to USPS guidance, official election mail, which includes official ballot materials and absentee applications, is given priority over first-class mail. These official election mail pieces feature three digit Service Type Identifiers, which are part of the Intelligent Mail Barcode. They increase the visibility of outbound and return election mail within the automated USPS environment and help with tracking.

We’ve also heard from volunteers who say that October 27th is too late to mail. We agree. This is the ideal mail date in an ordinary election year. We will email you with the new, official October mail date in late September.

Electoral policies are still in flux, but here is a snapshot of where things stand in our key states

A few highlights:

Non-mail ways to return a ballot
Many of our key states use and are adding ballot drop boxes, which offer a no-contact way to return a ballot and eliminate the time it would ordinarily take to return a ballot by mail. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Ohio (one per county), Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (available by municipality) will offer ballot drop boxes for the general election. Maine, with one drop box installed this summer in Bangor, is exploring the addition of ballot drop boxes. And ballots can be returned to local election offices in our key states, either by the voter or by a family member or “authorized designee,” with the exception of Pennsylvania, which limits returns to the voter.

Mailing and tracking ballots
Election officials in Michigan are collaborating with USPS officials to ensure that election mailings are highly visible and prioritized in their system. Arizona has adjusted its guidance on when to return a ballot by mail. And Florida, Wisconsin, and other key states are increasing voter education efforts to communicate the importance of requesting and returning mail-in ballots as early as possible.

Online ballot tracking, which displays if a voter’s ballot was sent and received, is already available in Arizona, Colorado (by municipality), Florida, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Maine voters can call their municipal clerk to track a ballot; and Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are adding technology that will allow voters and elections staff to track ballots as they move through the mailstream.

Voting early, either in-person or by mail
“No excuse” absentee voting is available in all of our key states, except Texas. In Colorado and Nevada, voters will receive general election ballots by mail. And Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Where it is available, early voting or in-person absentee voting is possible through at least October 29th in our key states, and through November 2nd in Ohio, Montana, and Iowa. Only the key states of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire offer no early voting.

Extending ballot receipt deadlines
Lawsuits to extend ballot return deadlines from “received before polls close” on Election Day to “postmarked on” Election Day and received in the days following the election are active in Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other key states. In Arizona, a lawsuit filed to order the acceptance of ballots postmarked on Election Day was settled; ballots must still be received on Election Day, but the Secretary of State is required to increase voter education about the ballot receipt deadline. In Montana, plaintiffs prevailed in a lawsuit to accept ballots postmarked on Election Day and to allow for ballot drop boxes.

Don’t forget: Your letters are key, but they are not the only election communication your voters will receive

Election officials, state parties, and organizations on the ground in our key states are working hard to educate voters and provide the guidance they need to vote safely in the 2020 general election, including recommending they request a mail-in ballot as early as possible. Because we’re not alone in this effort, and given the risk of providing information that may be outdated by the time your letters arrive, we recommend against adding dates or details on voting methods to your letters or envelopes.

We have one favor to ask

Vote Forward is thrilled to be experiencing a surge in new sign-ups and activity, and with that, our Helpdesk is experiencing a high volume of emails. Vote Forward’s Helpdesk is staffed by a dedicated team of Vote Forward volunteers, who are working hard to support their fellow volunteers to keep the templates printing and letter stockpiles growing.

We will email you to inform you of the new, official October mail date in late September. Until then, whenever possible, please hold off on emailing the Helpdesk about the mail date. We hope you know from this lengthy message that we are acutely aware of what is happening on the ground in our key states, and we are doing everything possible to find the most effective mail date for your letters.

Please keep writing letters (so really two favors to ask)

Your “please vote” letters will provide the extra encouragement that will inspire more voices to be heard this fall.

We urge you to leave the mail date research and worries to us, so you can instead focus on what will make a difference this fall: writing more letters, recruiting friends and family to join this effort, becoming a poll worker if you can, buying stamps, and taking good care of yourselves as we work to increase voter turnout for the general election.

Thank you, as always, for all of your efforts.

The Vote Forward team

Whose House? Our House! Day of Action

Indivisible goes on offense on its first day of action in 2019

The North Shore Indivisible 10th District outlines agenda priorities for the First 100 Days of Congress as follows:

The “First 100 Days of Congress” is a period of time during which the new Congress will indicate their agenda priorities for the next two years.

The first major legislative effort in a Democratically-controlled House is expected to be a democracy reform effort (H.R. 1). This legislation is meant to:

  • Strengthen everyone’s right to vote and to have their vote count
  • Stem the tide of big money in politics
  • Root out corruption at all levels of government

Specifically, this package is expected to include:

Voter Empowerment and Access

  • Automatic voter registration
  • Same-day registration
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act
  • Protect against improper purging of voter rolls
  • Require states to upgrade and secure their election systems
  • Restore voting rights to those with past criminal convictions
  • Provide adequate early voting opportunities

Money in Politics

  • Overturn Citizens United – A constitutional amendment is needed to overturn the chaos that Citizens United and related decisions unleashed into our campaign finance system.
  • Amplify small-dollar donations through public financing
  • Encourage small-dollar donations through tax incentives
  • Eliminate “dark money” by requiring disclosure of all political spending (including online ads)
  • Empower the Federal Election Commission to truly enforce campaign finance law
  • Cut off cooperation between candidates and super PACs

Ethics and Corruption

  • Ensure that ethics rules apply to all government officials – demand disclosure of and divestment from the President’s financial interests that pose conflicts of interest.
  • Prohibit bribery and demand full disclosure of information revealing potential and actual conflicts of interest for executive branch and government officials.
  • Write the Office of Congressional Ethics into law and stop Members of Congress from serving on boards.
  • A new code of ethics is needed for the Supreme Court.

Other Key Issues

Other key issues include Net Neutrality and the Dodd-Frank Act (a United States federal law that places regulation of the financial industry in the hands of the government).  Additional asks of our congressman, Representative Brad Schneider, include:

Net Neutrality

Consumer Financial Protection

  • Legislation Strengthening Dodd-Frank
  • Strengthen Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Join/Support Antitrust Caucus

Take Action

For the issues identified above, North Shore Indivisible and its individual members call on Congressman Brad Schneider for the following:
  • Make a public commitment to EACH of the issues identified above
  • Sponsor or Co-Sponsor Legislation
  • Provide a Timetable for Action
  • Communicate to North Shore Indivisible and the public the progress and status of each issue at 90 day intervals or sooner throughout his term.


Indivisible:  The Action Network is the progressives’ grassroots response to The Tea Party movement.  It’s “a mission-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to building online power for the progressive movement.”  Indivisible groups are gaining traction throughout the country and recently organized a Whose House? Our House! Day of Action on January 3rd, 2019.

This post has been prepared by Gerri Songer, part of North Shore Indivisible’s delegation in a meeting in the office of Illinois 10th District  Congressman Brad Schneider on January 3, 2019.

Why I Became a Deputy Voter Registrar. You Should, Too.

Become a deputy voter registrar in Illinois

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election it became evident that voter behavior represented the single most important factor in determining the outcome. Not just how many people voted mattered. After all, the majority did NOT vote for Trump. What mattered was who voted and where those who voted lived. Hair’s breaths of percentage points decided electoral votes for entire states. Every vote made a difference. Every person who was qualified to vote but did not vote made a difference as well.

It’s Imperfect But You Can Make the Difference

Yes, the Electoral College process needs a review. Yes, there is widespread gerrymandering of electoral jurisdictions. Yes, there are significant efforts to target and disenfranchise whole swaths of the population. Yes, these and other issues need to be fixed. Yet there is one thing that can be done by each person right now that does not require studies, commissions, hearings or rallies. We can make the effort to register to vote (and then vote).

Easy for Some. Not for Others

While Illinois encourages and provides relatively simple self-enfranchisement, for the truly intransigent non-voter the human touch may provide that extra incentive to become registered. That human touch is the deputy voter registrar. Illinois Election Code provides for deputy registrars who work with the County Clerk’s office to make voter registration to all qualified residents.

How To Become a Deputy Voter Registrar

To become a deputy voter registrar I attended a 1-hour fast-paced orientation conducted by an employee of the County Clerk’s office. The information flew by but we were provided with a short booklet that covered all the material. We were administered an oath and provided a start-up set of registration materials. It boils down to this: Are you able to ask a few questions? Can you fill out a ½ page form? If the answer is yes, you should become a deputy voter registrar.

Small Gotcha. Simple Solution

Prospective deputy voter registrars must first be “designated” by any of a long list of people and organizations. But let’s make it simple. If you look at the calendar on this website and/or search on this site for “voter registrar” you will find both the path and the dates for becoming designated and then getting trained. Really, there is nothing to it. Just do it.

By Sonny Cohen