“Elections have consequences”.  It’s an oft repeated phrase…particularly in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.  As we have learned, if we are not involved in choosing the people to represent us, we might find out that they don’t.  We just found that out, and it’s a hard and bitter lesson.

Many of us have made the choice to be citizens of Wisconsin, despite opportunities to claim residence elsewhere.  As residents, we would like to encourage all of you non-residents to reconsider, but this is not really about the non-Wisconsin residents as much as those who live someplace else in Wisconsin and vote there If its Wausau – you are one of 50,000…..if Madison, one of 500,000.  
In Manitowish Waters, you are one of 546 and in Sayner, one of 207.   Many elections have from one third to one half of the electorate turn out to vote.  In many places, one or two voters can swing an election.  It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out where you have the most influence in your local elections.  The fact is, we REALLY need your vote up here, now more than ever.  If it’s a county issue like ATV’s or if it’s the next election and Senator Tiffany is on the ballot, your vote is just huge and the shame is that we lose so many of you to other Wisconsin cities. 
State legislators have been recently heard to state, and often to repeat, that “lake people don’t vote” (so why worry about them?).  The interpretation is that we also don’t count.  We take care of the lakes, we pay nearly 80% of the cost of county government and since many don’t vote, we don’t matter.  In a recent conversation with a nearby town chairman, I was told that he would never give “them” any voice in a town issue.  His statement carried a snear full of contempt – the only way to interpret was that non-resident riparians are second class citizens.  

Here is my plea – and your Christmas gift to the Northwoods – register to vote up here.   Registering is so simple and absentee ballots are easier than going to the polls.  If you do this, it will make a very big difference for that place that has claimed your heart.

Happy Holidays!!
Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative
John Richter