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Wisconsin voters to decide on banning private money to help fund elections

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Wisconsin voters to decide on banning private money to help fund elections


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin voters are set to decide next month whether to make it unconstitutional to accept private grant money to help administer state elections, one of two Republican-backed ballot measures that Democrats say are meant to make it harder to conduct elections in the presidential battleground state.

The constitutional amendments on the state’s April 2 ballot also include a change to allow only election officials designated by law to administer elections. If a majority of voters approve, the amendments would be added to the state’s constitution.

Early in-person absentee voting is scheduled to begin Tuesday and can be offered through March 31.

Since 2020, Republicans in at least 27 states have outlawed or restricted private elections grants.

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The Wisconsin measures are supported by Republicans and conservative groups and opposed by an array of government watchdog and liberal groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause Wisconsin, Wisconsin Conservation Voters and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Not a single Democratic lawmaker voted for the amendment, which is being split into two questions for the April ballot.

The Wisconsin measures stem from false claims made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that widespread voter fraud tipped the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.

“People need to trust that elections are conducted fairly and impartially,” state Sen. Eric Wimberger, who co-authored the amendments, said in a message posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Wisconsin’s status as a swing state makes election integrity measures important locally, nationally and internationally.”

Opponents say the measures are designed to make it more difficult to run elections.

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The amendments specifically address a Republican complaint about grant money that came to Wisconsin in 2020 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a liberal group that fights for voter access and is funded by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

The state’s five largest cities, all of which Biden won, received $8.8 million. They were among roughly 200 communities in Wisconsin that received around $10 million as part of $350 million given out nationally to help with the cost of running elections during the COVID-19 pandemic before vaccines were available.

Republicans who dubbed the money “Zuckerbucks” complained the bulk of the funds went to Democratic strongholds and claimed it was an attempt by the billionaire to tip the vote in favor of Democrats.

“In the interest of upholding fairness and safeguarding the integrity of our democratic process, it is essential to maintain a nonpartisan electoral system that is free from external financial influences,” Kyle Koenen, policy director for the conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, testified in support of the measure.

Zuckerberg and Chan have repeatedly said the one-time donation was meant to bolster the election infrastructure at the height of the pandemic to help people vote.

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Republicans, who control the Legislature, brought the constitutional amendment in Wisconsin to circumvent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who almost surely would have vetoed it if the measure had been a regular bill. Amendments are not subject to the governor’s approval.

Three courts and the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected complaints challenging the legality of the grant money.

The other question on the ballot pertaining to who can be a poll worker was broken off from the private money question.

Wisconsin law already explains the requirements to be a poll worker: the people who work as election inspectors and tabulators, greet voters and serve in other roles. For example, any poll worker must be approved by the municipality from a list of nominees submitted by the two major parties, be a qualified voter in the county where the election is taking place, and not be a candidate or related to a candidate on the ballot.

It’s unclear how adoption of the amendment would change current practice, other than place requirements currently in state law into the constitution. That would make the requirements more difficult to change.

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Opponents of the amendment worry its adoption may lead to attempts to stifle current practices enhancing voter participation.

Wisconsin voters have approved 148 out of 200 proposed constitutional amendments since the state constitution was adopted in 1848, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau. Since Evers took office, voters have ratified three.

But after the two on the April ballot, more are on the way.

In the August primary, voters will be asked to change the law to give the Legislature a say in how federal money is spent, rather than having the governor decide.

An amendment on the November ballot says only U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or older can vote in elections. The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees every U.S. citizen age 18 and over is a qualified elector. But it does not specifically say only U.S. citizens are qualified to vote in state or local elections.

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Federal law already requires U.S. citizenship to vote in national elections and no state constitutions explicitly allow noncitizens to vote in state or local elections.

However, there has been a push for states to specifically make clear that only U.S. citizens can vote in state and local elections. Some cities and towns across the country have allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections.





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Marshall and Wisconsin Football Announce 2028 Meeting In Madison

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Marshall and Wisconsin Football Announce 2028 Meeting In Madison


On Friday afternoon, Marshall University and the University of Wisconsin announced that the two football programs will meet in the 2028 season opener. The game is set for September 2, 2028, at Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium

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The two schools last met on the gridiron back in the 2008 season. Wisconsin won that game by a score of 51-14. That was the only previous meeting between the two teams.

“We are thrilled to make the trip to Madison with the Thundering Herd in 2028,” Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears said in a statement. “These games are awesome experiences for our fans and for our team. As always, we are looking to create some momentum and buzz heading into our SBC season, so we are really excited for this one.”

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A kickoff time and broadcast information for this game will be announced at a later date.





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Wisconsin Elections Commission rejects effort to recall Assembly Speaker Vos • Wisconsin Examiner

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Wisconsin Elections Commission rejects effort to recall Assembly Speaker Vos • Wisconsin Examiner


The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) voted 5-0, with one abstention, to reject the recall petition against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) Thursday. After confusion over which district the recall petition signatures should come from, the commission decided that the recall organizers did not have enough valid signatures from any of the districts that could have possibly been involved. 

Recall organizers began the effort to remove Vos, the longest-serving Assembly Speaker in state history, from office over complaints that he was not doing enough to advance their belief that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and that the election officials involved in that election should be punished. The petition began after Vos refused to move forward with an effort to impeach WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe. 

The recall effort began as the state’s political maps were in limbo, however. In December, the state Supreme Court struck down the previous maps and Gov. Tony Evers signed new maps into law in February, but those maps don’t go into effect until the election this fall. 

With the previous maps declared unconstitutional and the new maps not yet in effect, it was unclear which district recall organizers should collect the required number of signatures. Old Assembly district 63 contains the voters that elected Vos in the first place, but it doesn’t technically exist any more. The new Assembly districts 33 and 66 contain some of those voters, but also many who did not put Vos into office. The WEC and state Department of Justice had sought clarification from the Supreme Court on which district should apply, but the Court declined to weigh in. 

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Last month, the recall organizers filed thousands of signatures as part of their recall petition, but those petitions included signatures from all three of the potential districts, as well as many others that appeared to be forged or from voters who didn’t live in any of the districts. While the legal questions surrounding the petition worked through the Court, the statutory deadlines of a recall effort continued. No matter what district was used, Commission staff determined there were not enough valid signatures to force a recall election this summer. 

On Thursday evening, the commission met to decide on Vos’ challenge to the validity of the petition signatures. Vos’ attorney, Matthew Fernholz, said the commission should take the easy option and reject the recall petition, while adding that there should be a formal investigation into the alleged forgeries in the petitions. 

“So based on the review of all the signatures, and the challenges that have been sustained, the easiest thing and most straightforward path for WEC today is simply to reject and deny the recall petition,” Fernholz said. “They’re woefully short, regardless of whether we’re operating under the old 63rd Assembly district or the new 33rd Assembly district.”

Commissioner Ann Jacobs told Fernholz that the body is statutorily prevented from initiating investigations, adding that if Vos would like an investigation completed, he needs to submit a complaint to the agency. 

The recall organizers were represented at the hearing by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Gableman was hired by Vos following the 2020 election to investigate allegations of fraud. After being allowed to continue his review for over a year without any results, Vos fired the former judge. Gableman has since turned on Vos, frequently appearing at anti-Vos events and supporting his 2022 primary opponent. 

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Gableman spent about 30 minutes arguing with commissioners and WEC staff over whether or not a staff member told the recall organizers that the signatures should come from the 63rd District. At one point in the argument, Jacobs asked for a point of order after Gableman started insulting the agency’s attorney. 

“Well, you managed to be arrogant, condescending and wrong in a matter of about 20,” Gableman said before Jacobs cut him off. 

Gableman also refused to say whether or not the recall petitioners had gathered enough signatures from any of the districts because he doesn’t “know the basis for all the removals of the signatures.” 

Twice, Gableman mentioned that the recall organizers had met with the FBI about potentially investigating the alleged forged signatures, and he discussed what the petitioners are calling “recall 2.0”— their second attempt at forcing a recall election. Much of the argument between Gableman and the commissioners centered around his request that they declare which district the signatures should come from and their refusal to do so because a request for an official advisory opinion from the commission has not been made. 

The Commission ultimately approved a motion that rejected the recall on the grounds that there weren’t enough signatures from the old 63rd or new 66th districts and that the new 33rd district should not be used. Commissioner Mark Thomsen abstained from the vote after arguing for an amendment to the motion to narrow it to include just the lack of valid signatures from the 63rd district.

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Can parents be held responsible for their childs’ gun violence in Wisconsin?

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Can parents be held responsible for their childs’ gun violence in Wisconsin?


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – In a significant legal development, the parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley were both sentenced on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The verdict, delivered on Tuesday, marks a potential shift in legal precedent regarding parental responsibility in cases of gun violence.

According to authorities, the parents’ culpability in the shooting stemmed not from direct involvement in the attack, but from their failure to prevent their son from accessing the firearms used in the assault. This case has sparked a broader discussion on gun access nationwide, including in Wisconsin, about what is needed to convict a parent.

“Causation in Wisconsin is defined as a substantial factor in bringing about a result,” John Gross, a Clinical Associate Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said. “The fact that the parents stored the gun in a way that allowed the child to access it would be viewed as a substantial factor in bringing about the ultimate harm.”

Wisconsin law sets a clear age threshold for parental responsibility when it comes to gun access, with obligations ceasing at age 14.

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Safe storage, as outlined by Gross, includes using trigger locks, locked containers, and/or gun safes. Failure to comply with these standards constitutes a crime under Wisconsin law, whether a minor gains access to the firearm or not.

“The crime is not storing it safely and it doesn’t matter whether a child ultimately is able to reach the gun. It’s if they could,” Gross said.

More than half of the states, including Wisconsin, have implemented laws aimed at promoting safe gun storage practices.

Gross emphasized the importance of these measures, stating, “It’s really important to store the guns properly just to avoid something that could be really horrific and tragic, and easily preventable.”

While the Crumbley case may set a precedent, Gross noted that it may not directly influence Wisconsin law due to distinct differences between Michigan law, where the case was tried, and Wisconsin law.

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