Dear Editor:

Democracy — it is the quintessential American ideal. How can we preserve and strengthen it?

Let me ask two questions. Should the voters choose their elected officials or should politicians be allowed to choose their voters? And, should we get big money out of politics?

Those are the two questions motivating a petition drive in Eagle River during June and July. 

One petition proposes fair voting maps drawn by an impartial agency. What we have now is hyper-partisan gerrymandering in which politicians of either party are able to rig the voting districts in their favor. 

For example, in the fall of 2018, Wisconsin voters on the State Assembly supported one party with 54% of the vote, yet the other party won 63% of the seats. 

That’s not democracy. 

The petition calls for instituting a nonpartisan redistricting process like Iowa, which has worked well for decades, is supported by both parties there and saves taxpayers millions of dollars by avoiding lawsuits.

The other petition addresses the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling known as Citizens United.

These activist judges reinterpreted the Constitution so that corporations are considered to be people and money is speech. Thomas Jefferson rolled over in his grave. The result is that big corporations and out-of-state billionaires can pour unlimited money into our elections in order to control them. The petition calls for overturning that ruling.

Actually, the two petitions simply ask for citizen referendums so local citizens can have a direct say. 

If a sufficient number of signatures are collected, the city is obligated to put the referendums on the ballot in 2020 and give citizens a voice on the issues.

Polls show that the majority of voters of both parties support these initiatives. Where ballot referendums have been held, they are generally supported by around 70% of the voters.

If you are interested in signing the petitions, know someone who might be or want more information, email 

David Barnhill