As the political climate heats up in Wisconsin, recent developments in election integrity cases are setting the stage for an intense election cycle.
Most recently, a Dane County Circuit Court judge directed the Wisconsin Elections Commission to adopt regulations permitting local election authorities to count absentee ballots that include incomplete address information.
In a clear blow to election integrity, Dane County Judge Ryan Nilsestuen dismissed the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s suggestion that a complete address must include the street number, street name, and municipality name. He determined that a witness address on an absentee ballot envelope may exclude the municipality and ZIP code, or even use terms like “same” or “ditto” when the witness resides with the voter, provided that clerks can ascertain the witness’s residence. This would increase the number of valid votes in critical upcoming elections where slim vote margins could determine the outcomes. At the same time, Governor Evers has vetoed a slew of Republican-led election reform bills that aimed to secure our state’s elections.
Meanwhile, we also had a good election-related court decision recently. Last month, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) won a lawsuit against the City Clerk of Racine and Wisconsin Elections Commission, securing election integrity in the process.
The Racine County Circuit Court ruled that the City’s use of a mobile voting van at particular sites around the City was illegal under state law. Specifically, the Court found that the mobile voting sites gave a partisan advantage to one political party over others and that state law did not allow the use of a van as an absentee voting site.
Other court cases that involve Wisconsin’s legislative maps could significantly impact upcoming elections. Last month, a leftist attorney filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s congressional maps to advance his political agenda.
Up to this point, our Assembly and Senate legislative maps have been the focus of controversy, with the State Supreme Court deciding the current legislative maps are unconstitutional and demanding that new maps be implemented for this fall’s elections.This lawsuit challenging the congressional maps adds yet another wrinkle.
WILL last week took steps to try to block this latest legal maneuver regarding the congressional maps. WILL is calling for Justice Janet Protasiewicz to recuse herself from any ruling that revisits the case that resulted in the current congressional maps because of explicit statements about the maps as she campaigned.
Lucas Vebber WILL Deputy Counsel, stated, “Wisconsin’s current congressional map was proposed by Governor Evers and adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2022. Any attempt to revisit this ruling and once again alter Wisconsin’s Congressional districts is both procedurally improper and legally wrong.”
WILL notes that Wisconsin state law mandates that judges, including Supreme Court justices, must recuse themselves from cases in which impartiality might be compromised or if they have a substantial personal stake in the outcome. The law stipulates that any judge “shall disqualify” themselves whenever they “cannot, or it appears…they cannot, act in an impartial manner.”
Further, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin made a substantial contribution of nearly $10 million to the campaign of Justice Janet Protasiewicz. Throughout her campaign, she labeled Wisconsin’s district maps as “rigged” to benefit Republicans and specifically criticized the congressional maps, stating “we know something’s wrong.” Her repeated comments on the Johnson v. WEC case during the campaign underscore the argument for her recusal.
These court cases challenging maps need to stop; the fall elections loom. We the people have a right to know well in advance what districts we will be in, as do candidates who are preparing to run for office. For sure, part of the liberals’ plan is to keep people uncertain and confused as to what is legal and what is not. Keeping everyone questioning about what districts they live in for voting purposes is part of their plan.
The foundation of our republic relies on elections that are transparent, secure, and trustworthy. To preserve a government that truly reflects the will of the people, it’s crucial that we advocate for and demand the integrity of elections and the establishment of fair and transparent electoral laws.
Most importantly, we must show up and vote in the upcoming elections, regardless of how election integrity cases and legislative proposals in our state play out. The surest way for liberal progressives to take over is for conservatives to get so discouraged by the possibility of election fraud that they don’t vote. We cannot hand our state or our country over to the left without a fight.
While we did not have any elections here in our state last week, several states had some really significant elections. Of prime importance, Ohio voters weighed in on two ballot initiatives. One of the referenda ensconces a right to abortion in the state’s constitution, and the other legalizes recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, both proposals passed.
The abortion proposal passed 56%-44%. The referenda stated that individuals will have the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.” My counterpart in Ohio—my friend Aaron Baehr—who worked hard to defeat the amendment and provided leadership for a pro-life coalition, made some important points about the heartbreaking loss.
The statement from Protect Women Ohio said, in part, “Our hearts are broken tonight not because we lost an election, but because Ohio families, women and children will bear the brunt of this vote. When Michigan voters passed a similar amendment last year, they were sold the lie that parental rights would be unaffected, that late-term abortion would remain illegal, and that women’s health and safety standards would not be touched. But just last week, the Michigan legislature voted to repeal penalties for partial-birth abortions, to eliminate health and safety protections at abortion facilities, and they called parental consent laws ‘unconstitutional.’ They even vowed to come for informed consent laws and 24-hour waiting periods next. We know the same barbaric attacks on parents and children are now coming home to Ohio.”
They went on to say that as pro-lifers, they will not quit—which is encouraging to be sure. But I want to note what this statement points out about Michigan because it is very telling. Voters in Michigan were told one thing about abortion regulations if they passed a “right to abortion” amendment, but yet the pro-abortion advocates are never satisfied. They want abortion any time, for any or no reason—truly abortion on demand. Ohio pro-lifers recognize that this could easily happen in their state with this so-called “right to abortion” now in their constitution.
So how does this relate to Wisconsin? Remember that lawsuit challenging whether our pre-Roe law is enforceable? That lawsuit is still in Dane County Circuit Court—but it will eventually move from that court and go either to the appellate court and then to the state Supreme Court, or the appellate court could send it directly to the state Supreme Court.
Most observers believe one way or another, this case will land at our state Supreme Court, which now leans liberal by a 4-3 margin. And of course, new Justice Janet Protaciewicz made it very clear in her campaign that she supports what she called “reproductive rights” for women—which is a euphemism, and a bad one, for abortion.
When this case gets to our state Supreme Court, it wouldn’t take a great deal of legal maneuvering for our court to create a “right to abortion” in our state constitution. And then, like Michigan, it would not be long before serious challenges will come, probably via the courts, against our abortion regulations, like the 20-week abortion ban, the ultrasound requirement, the 24-hour waiting period, parental permission, and others—all of which are designed to protect women and their unborn children.
As I have said and will continue to say, elections have very real consequences—and sometimes those consequences are literally life and death.
Regardless of what happens with our pre-Roe law here in Wisconsin, WFA and WFC, in full partnership with you, will continue to relentlessly fight for the dignity of every preborn child and advocate for the support of every woman facing a crisis pregnancy. Thank you for all you do to promote a culture of life in our state!
REFERENDA QUESTIONS ON WISCONSIN STATEWIDE BALLOT
SPRING 2023 – ELECTION DAY, APRIL 4, 2023
The state legislature has approved three (3) referenda questions on the statewide ballot for this spring’s nonpartisan general election.
Questions 1 and 2 are “binding” referenda, meaning if they pass, the state constitution will be amended to include language as reflected in the questions. If they fail, the state constitution will not be amended.
Here are the questions taken directly from the ballot, with some annotation Wisconsin Family Council is supplying to help voters understand what each question involves. Simply put, both questions give judges more flexibility when setting bail. Voters indicate either “yes” or “no” in response to the questions.
State of Wisconsin Conditions of Release Before Conviction Referendum – Question 1
QUESTION 1: “Conditions of release before conviction. Shall section 8 (2) of article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose on an accused person being released before conviction conditions that are designed to protect the community from serious harm?”
Question 1 is about whether or not a judge can consider “serious harm” (public safety) when setting conditions of bail. A “yes” vote will amend the Wisconsin constitution as noted; a “no” vote means the noted section of the Wisconsin constitution will remain as it currently is.
Under current law, judges can only consider conditions that prevent the risk of death or potentially life-threatening injury. For example, a pedophile awaiting trial currently can’t be prevented from going to a playground as a condition of bail, because that condition (banning the pedophile from playgrounds) isn’t really necessary to prevent a risk of injury potentially resulting in death. It would just be preventing sexual assault.
State of Wisconsin Cash Bail Before Conviction Referendum – Question 2
QUESTION 2: “Cash bail before conviction. Shall section 8 (2) of article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose cash bail on a person accused of a violent crime based on the totality of the circumstances, including the accused’s previous convictions for a violent crime, the probability that the accused will fail to appear, the need to protect the community from serious harm and prevent witness intimidation, and potential affirmative defenses?”
Question 2 deals with whether a judge can consider the “totality of the circumstances” when setting cash bail for violent crimes. A “yes” vote will amend the Wisconsin constitution as noted; a “no” vote means the noted section of the Wisconsin constitution will remain as it currently is.
Currently in Wisconsin a judge is limited to a single factor (flight risk) when setting cash bail. This question allows a judge to look at additional factors (past criminal convictions, serious harm, etc.) when setting cash bail for violent crimes.
The third question on the statewide ballot is strictly advisory, meaning if the “yes” votes outnumber the “no” votes, nothing changes in our law; and if the “no” votes outnumber the “yes” votes nothing changes in our law. The state legislature put this question to the voters to get a sense of what citizens think about this issue. The question is very straight-forward.
State of Wisconsin Welfare Benefits Referendum – Question 3
QUESTION 3: “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?”
A printable pdf of this post is available HERE.
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is looking to put another referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana on the ballot this fall, a strategy they have used in the past to help drive turnout and that many believe proved effective in helping get Tony Evers elected as governor.
The referendum asks Milwaukee County residents if they “favor allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana, while also regulating commercial marijuana-related activities, and imposing a tax on the sale of marijuana?”
The ballot question, however, means nothing without backing from the state, and leadership in the Republican-led state legislature has shown little interest in legalizing and regulating non-medical use of cannabis.
These nonbinding referenda are nothing other than a political ploy. The left-leaning Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors knows that such resolutions motivate pot-happy voters to get to the polls. They confuse voters because they sound official, but are essentially meaningless.
According to a poll conducted before the 2018 election, 56% of Wisconsin voters stated they were more likely to vote knowing a cannabis measure was on the ballot.
Another poll by Marquette University Law School released earlier this year found 61% of registered voters in Wisconsin support marijuana legalization. Among Democratic voters, 75% supported marijuana legalization, meaning Democratic voters are the most likely to show up to the polls because of this referendum.
The left has been quick to put these types of referenda on a ballot and then hype them up in social and other media, making people think when they vote on them, it will actually make a difference. It is essentially a scam; the left is simply using people to advance their agenda.
Experts believe advisory questions on the ballot have increased voter turnout enough to affect the outcome of races, politics watchers say, and we can expect more counties to add cannabis questions to their ballots.
“That’s the carrot for the horse,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor Patti Logsdon. “That’s how Evers got voted in the last time.”
This means it’s vital that every Christian shows up to the polls and votes for Christ-centered leaders. We cannot allow the left to get away with this political stunt and elect lawless, unprincipled leaders like they have in the past.
Our own Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm has refused to enforce pro-life laws, and we need representatives who will hold him accountable and prioritize the rule of law over their own preferences.
Elections have consequences, and every vote counts. Let’s counter the left’s dishonest attempt to drive up votes for radical candidates by showing up to the polls with our friends, families, and Christian communities.
Gov. Tony Evers plans to give Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Inc., another $1 million in COVID relief funding. This is the second time our governor has used COVID relief funds to award Planned Parenthood with a massive sum of taxpayer dollars. Instead of helping families who have been affected by the pandemic, Evers is choosing to support abortionists.
The most recent funding is part of the governor’s “Equitable Recovery Grants,” which allocates $82 million to various parts of the state. He’s chosen to use this money in ways that have nothing to do with COVID but do pander to his liberal supporters.
Because of this, many Republican policymakers are skeptical of Evers’ motives. “It’s such a brazen political giveaway at this point I don’t know what else there is to say, other than Gov. Evers would rather give $1 million to the state’s largest abortionist as opposed to law enforcement or any number of ways he could be helping kids,” said Senator André Jacque.
Some speculate that this is a campaign strategy, as Planned Parenthood has consistently supported Evers and his Democratic colleagues. Planned Parenthood Advocates spent over $700,000 in 2018 and 2019 to help elect Evers and other Democrats.
Evers’ loyalty clearly lies with Planned Parenthood, not his constituents.
The governor has vetoed every pro-life bill that we’ve given him, and has promised to “veto any legislation” that decreases access to abortion. Twice he even dismissed a bill that would require doctors to care for babies born alive after botched abortions.
Evers has been staunchly pro-abortion since day one, causing serious harm to our state. The good news is that this year is a gubernatorial election year, and we have the power to make a change. Our governor seat will be up for grabs on November 8th, and by exercising our civic duty, we can begin to transform Wisconsin into a state that values all life.
While we await our opportunity to elect a pro-life governor this fall, we can still vouch for the unborn and work to pass vital pro-life legislation.
Earlier this month, the Senate held a hearing on Senate Bill 923, a crucial piece of pro-life legislation that would prohibit abortion after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.
This bill highlights the humanity of every unborn child and would save thousands of babies every year.
Contact your state senator and state representative and urge them to support Senate Bill 923. (Put your address in the search space at the top right of the page.)
Wisconsin families and the unborn deserve better. Let’s seize our opportunity this year to change the landscape in Wisconsin through our spring and fall elections. It’s time to elect a governor who is committed to helping families thrive and protecting the most vulnerable.
Please pray that Wisconsin is transformed culturally and legislatively so that every life is valued and protected.
Parents have faced disgraceful backlash from our own government leaders for doing their duty and standing up for their children. Last year, the NSBA likened parents to “domestic terrorists” after they spoke out against problems like Critical Race Theory (CRT) infiltrating schools. While the NSBA’s letter was alarming by itself, a newly released email reveals that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona actually solicited this letter from the NSBA. Many parents are now doubly disturbed – and rightfully so.
Parents have awakened to the corruption in our education system, and they are fighting back. Progressive activism in the Badger State is being countered by rational parents who are just sticking up for their kids.
Kylee Zempel, writing for The Federalist, reported earlier this week on a recent town hall meeting in Wisconsin attended by many upset parents. Topics discussed included Critical Race Theory (CRT), leftist teaching, school closures, and mask mandates. The meeting was organized by Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is running against Democrat Gov. Tony Evers this fall. Kleefisch told those in attendance that they must become activists and combat the liberal insanity that is controlling our schools and influencing our children.
Many parents have painfully watched their children suffer while their schools refused to do in-person instruction for long periods of time. Students had a horrible year academically in 2020-21. Many struggled with virtual learning and fell behind. They also suffered socially and emotionally. Even after schools reopened, many healthy students were required to stay home and quarantine for up to ten days after being exposed, often without any at-home instruction. These lockdowns and quarantines ultimately did more harm than good, and now parents are fed up.
After watching their children’s GPA plummet during the lockdowns, some parents have decided to remove their children from the public school system entirely. Couple this with parents being upset by finding inappropriate materials in both physical and digital school libraries, boys being allowed in the girls’ bathrooms, and ideas such as CRT being taught, and you have parents looking for alternatives and making decisions to make a difference in their own school districts.
Here are three things you can do to make a difference in all this.
1. Get involved in the elections. Our spring nonpartisan elections are right around the corner. The primary is February 15 and the general April 5. This is when we elect school board members. Find out who the conservative candidates are in your district. Help them get elected. Call and find out what they need, and then step up and get busy. Encourage others to join you. Build an effective local army!
By Tuesday, January 25, you can find out who is on your ballot HERE. But don’t wait that long. Check with your municipal clerk right away. Check with friends and neighbors who stay up on local politics. Because these elections are typically low-voter-turnout elections, even just a little help can put a candidate over the finish line. Be part of the solution in your own backyard!
2. Consider educational options. The window for applying for and registering for one of our state’s educational options opens in February. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in schools that are failing in any way, consider the options carefully, including vouchers, home-schooling and more. . You can find information about all the options, along with application materials and deadlines, HERE.
3. Pray for wisdom. Ask God what He wants you to do to make a difference. Pray for the good candidates running. Pray for the protection of students.
Parents and concerned citizens have a right to be angry about what has happened and is continuing to happen to our children in government schools. But that anger needs to be channeled and needs to be productive. Now is the time to make a real and a positive difference—for the children.
Wisconsin Family Action stands ready to help in any way we can. Call us at 888-378-7395 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate Bill 250 is making some headlines in Wisconsin with some very enthusiastic supporters, but a significant level of caution is warranted for this piece of legislation.
SB 250 (and its Assembly companion AB 244) seeks to radically alter the election process for members of Congress and U.S. Senators in Wisconsin. It would ultimately make it more difficult for conservative candidates to win elections in our state. Additionally, it would shift the focus during elections from issues to money and name recognition, which often results in less qualified candidates taking office. A public hearing for the bill was held just before Christmas, but the Senate Committee on Elections has not yet voted on the bill. The Assembly hasn’t taken any action to date on the proposal.
This bill removes the partisan primaries for Congress and the U.S. Senate and replaces them with an open primary. Currently in Wisconsin, we have partisan primaries, meaning each party gets a chance to select one candidate for the general election. In this new proposed system, however, every candidate running for office would be in the same pool, and the top five vote earners would move on to the general election. That means that multiple Republicans and Democrats could, and certainly would, land on the final ballot in November.
The bill also implements something called “Final Five voting” in the general election. On election day, under this bill, voters would be asked to rank their choices for Congress and U.S. Senate from their first choice to their fifth (but ranking all five is not required). After the votes are counted, if no candidate has over 50% of the vote, whoever has the fewest votes would be removed. Votes that had gone to the eliminated candidate would then go to a given voter’s second choice candidate. If there is still no candidate with more than 50% of the vote, the process is repeated until there is.
The Final Five voting system isn’t necessarily complicated, but it can be confusing because it’s so different from the way we have always conducted elections in Wisconsin. To make matters worse, if passed, this bill would apply to this year’s elections. It’s a tall order to get the whole state on the same page that quickly. In addition, the cost of restructuring the voting system is also of major concern. Maine uses a similar system for a few elected offices, and their taxpayers have to pay nearly another half a million dollars per election to make this system work. Wisconsin has four times the population of Maine; so it stands to reason that our cost would be much higher than Maine’s.
Additionally, this type of election system is ripe for manipulation and election tampering.
Because of the complexity of this system, it would likely take weeks to determine who actually won the election. Beyond that, we’ve already seen how hard it is to keep the ballot safe, secure and properly counted for one night. Imagine the antics that dishonest vote counters could pull if we allow the counting to extend over a period of weeks.
Right now is a terrible time to further erode our faith in our electoral system. Wisconsin Family Action firmly opposes Senate Bill 250/Assembly Bill 244.