Zahrte: How will 2022 impact the future of our democracy?


I believe in democracy. I believe that the individuals elected to office should represent the interests of their constituents. I believe that voting should be made as easy as possible for every person eligible to vote. I believe that the maps created for electing our government representatives should be as fair as possible and not benefit one political party over another. I believe that the judges in our judicial system should be independent and apply justice impartially, free from influence of the executive or legislative branches of government, as well as corporations and big money. I believe in the rule of law and that no person is above the law. Unfortunately, I believe that all these principles are at risk in 2022 if voters do not carefully examine the candidates who are running for office and what they believe.

The candidates for public office – our governor, state legislators and Supreme Court justices, along with our representatives in Congress – should be asked tough questions about their stance on issues that impact our democracy.  Consider these questions to ask individuals running for office:

  • Will you put the interests of your constituents before the interests of the political party to which you are affiliated?
  • Do you believe that gerrymandering is wrong? Will you support legislation that creates a nonpartisan commission that draws maps to ensure fairness?
  • Will you support voting rights legislation? Do you believe in efforts to make casting a ballot easier for every person who can legally vote? Will you fight to end voter suppression?
  • Will you put the interests of your constituents before the interests of big money donors to your campaign?
  • Are you willing to hold accountable all elected officials who attempt to undermine democracy and abuse their power of office?
  • Will you promote transparency and the shining of light on all your work, promising not to hold closed door sessions and require nondisclosure agreements while you work on policies or legislation impacting your constituents?
  • Will you side with the majority of Wisconsinites on issues in which they have made their preferences clear?

Check out the voting records of your current representatives. Did they vote to expand Medicaid coverage when two-thirds of Wisconsinites surveyed favored accepting federal funds to do this? Did they vote to cut scientists from the DNR, defund state parks and eliminate climate change language on the DNR website when 100% of the communication they received from constituents was in opposition to these changes? Did they vote to approve gerrymandered maps when those maps were given an F rating by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and approximately 80% of Wisconsinites have supported redistricting reform? 

Our democracy is on the line in 2022. Be an informed voter. Consider checking out work done by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (a nonpartisan watchdog that tracks and exposes money in Wisconsin politics), the Fair Elections Project (a group dedicated to changing how politics work in the United States and ending partisan gridlock), Common Cause (a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens’ lobby that focuses on campaign finance, election and lobby reform, open meetings law and other issues concerning the promotion and maintenance of  “clean,” open, responsive and accountable government), or the League of Women Voters (a nonpartisan group working on vital issues of concern to the public).

Our government officials should be engaging in work that reflects the will of the people and should be held accountable if they are not. I encourage you to do your homework before the elections. Our fragile experiment, democracy, changed the world. We cannot take lightly our responsibility to ensure its continuation.

Cindy Zahrte, a resident of Warrens, is a member of the Wisconsin American Association of University Women (AAUW) Public Policy Committee.


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