Marla Stephens, center, and Kris Lennon, center right, attend Maps Madness: Voters vs. Politicians, a March 7, 2018 rally organized by the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition held outside the Wisconsin state Capitol. The rally was aimed at pressuring lawmakers to hold a special session to enact a nonpartisan redistricting system. Stephens, a former candidate for state Supreme Court justice, says she believes her vote has been diluted by redistricting in the Milwaukee area. Credit: Cameron Smith / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Democracy relies on an informed electorate. At the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, we help achieve that by providing nonpartisan, fact-checked stories that help you make important decisions on Election Day and beyond.

Over the past four months, the Center’s Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People series has explored recent changes that make Wisconsin less democratic. We found:

The state’s voter ID requirement suppresses turnout among people of color, the elderly and college students.

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Gerrymandering dilutes the power of individual voters as they are “packed” and “cracked” into uncompetitive districts.

Marla Stephens, center, and Kris Lennon, center right, attend Maps Madness: Voters vs. Politicians, a March 7, 2018 rally organized by the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition held outside the Wisconsin state Capitol. The rally was aimed at pressuring lawmakers to hold a special session to enact a nonpartisan redistricting system. Stephens, a former candidate for state Supreme Court justice, says she believes her vote has been diluted by redistricting in the Milwaukee area. Credit: Cameron Smith / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Dark money lets powerful donors with hidden agendas secretly support candidates.

Fast-tracking and secretive legislative maneuvers limit the public’s ability to influence bills.

Residents feel increasingly powerless as legislators ignore their protests when pushing through unpopular proposals.

This is your chance to take back some of that power. Support journalism that protects the vulnerable, exposes wrongdoing and explores solutions.

Your donation helps us train the next generation of investigative journalists. The Undemocratic series was reported and written by University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism students in a class taught by me with assistance from Coburn Dukehart, the Center’s digital and multimedia director. It was picked up by 125 news organizations, reaching more than 5 million readers, viewers and listeners in Wisconsin and 18 other states.

Nicole Ki, a student in J420, an investigative reporting class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, listens to former Wisconsin Democratic state Sen. Tim Cullen on Feb. 13, 2018. Also speaking to the class were former Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz and Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. The class, led by Dee J. Hall, managing editor of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, is investigating the state of Wisconsin’s democracy. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Between now and Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match your donation to the Center. NewsMatch is a national campaign to encourage grassroots support of the nonprofit news sector. Because the Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Please make a gift today and have it matched!

Your gift may be mailed to WCIJ, 5006 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., Madison WI 53706, or made securely via credit card by clicking here.

Thanks for helping the Center strengthen our democracy!

Dee J. Hall

Hall, a co-founder of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, joined the staff as managing editor in June 2015. She worked at the Wisconsin State Journal for 24 years as an editor and reporter focusing on projects and investigations. Previously she was a reporter for eight years at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, where she covered city government, schools and the environment. During her 35-year journalism career, Hall has won more than three dozen local, state and national awards for her work, and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors. She is based in Madison, Wisconsin. She can be reached at dhall@wisconsinwatch.org