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Breaking down the meaning of the two statewide referendums on the April 2nd ballot

Source: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin; Civic Media; Canva

Breaking down the meaning of the two statewide referendums on the April 2nd ballot

Debra Cronmiller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, joins Matenaer on Air to talk about two important referendums on the April 2 ballot.

March 29, 2024 9:33 PM CDT

By: Teri Barr

There are two important referendums on the April 2 ballot. Wisconsin League of Women Voters Executive Director Debra Cronmiller joins Matenaer on Air to break down the wording of each one along with what you need to know when you go to the polls. Host Jane Matenaer doesn’t hold back on her own thoughts.

“It’s my contention that referendum questions are written in such a murky way,” Matenaer says. “It feels like it’s done on purpose so voters really don’t understand what it means.”

Here is referendum question one on Tuesday’s ballot:

Question 1: State of Wisconsin Use of Private Funds in Election Administration Referendum
“Use of private funds in election administration. Shall section 7 (1) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that private donations and grants may not be applied for, accepted, expended, or used in connection with the conduct of any primary, election, or referendum?”

Matenaer asks if this referendum question may be a reaction to the grant money that came in during the election in 2020.

“It is a response to that,” Cronmiller says. “But it is also circling into the misinformation about how the money was used in 2020. It was a different time with the pandemic and there were different needs like protective equipment and plexi-glass. Some polls had to move to different locations in an effort to keep the lines shorter.”

Cronmiller goes on to explain the money is actually a grant to municipalities and comes with strict instructions to only use it for non-partisan purposes.

Bottom line? The money used during the 2020 election was used appropriately.

“Some of the misinformation indicates large grants went only to Milwaukee and Madison as a way to get the larger progressive vote,” Cronmiller says. “But this is just not true. More than 200 municipalities across the state accepted these grants, and used the money for the correct purposes.”

“Election clerks were really having to deal with a different time in 2020,” Matenaer says. “So I have to imagine having this grant money helped create a safe, secure voting environment.”

“Yes, we simply do not need this in our constitution. The money has a purpose, and means taxpayers don’t have to foot these types of bills,” Cronmiller explains. “Lawmakers are putting this in front of the voters, but instead of the constitution, it could go through the proper channels to make it a statute instead. This one could also add extra hoops to jump through just to make your vote count. So the Wisconsin League of Women Voters is a no to this referendum question.”

This is referendum question two on the ballot:

Question 2: State of Wisconsin Election Officials Referendum
“Election officials. Shall section 7 (2) of article III of the constitution be created to provide that only election officials designated by law may perform tasks in the conduct of primaries, elections, and referendums?”

“This doesn’t feel very pro-democracy,” Matenaer suggests. “We are very confused by this one,” Cronmiller says. “There are currently statutes dictating who our election officials are and what they do. There are just too many questions surrounding this referendum and we say vote no.”

Matenaer on Air – with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

Catch the entire conversation around these two referendum questions and additional details from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin on the decision to not support either one – and why Spring elections are so important for you and your community.

You can also find more information on voting here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/

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