Everything you need to vote today

It's finally Election Day!

In this newsletter

Everything you need to vote today

Good morning, Madison!

It's finally Election Day!

Since we've been talking about this day for so long, it seems only fitting that we use today’s newsletter to round everything up one more time.

Let's start with the basics:

If you have specific questions, call or text the League of Women Voters Voter Helpline at 608-285-2141.

— Hayley

Photo by Hayley Sperling

⚖️ This election could flip the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

  • The New York Times has called Wisconsin's Supreme Court election "arguably the most important election in America." That's because the outcome of this election will determine the ideological balance of the court and how it could rule on a number of high-stakes issues — from abortion to voting rights.
  • Daniel Kelly served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 2016-2020 when he was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker to fill a vacancy but lost his re-election bid in 2020. He is running as a "constitutional conservative." He is endorsed by multiple anti-abortion organizations.
  • Janet Protasiewicz is a Milwaukee County judge and the liberal candidate in the race. Protasiewicz has said the U.S. Supreme Court made a mistake when it overturned Roe v. Wade.
  • Take a deep dive: This Wisconsin Supreme Court race is 174 years in the making (Cap Times)
Satya Rhodes-Conway (left), Gloria Reyes (right), photos via campaigns

🏢 Madison will elect its Mayor.

  • Who's running? Incumbent Satya Rhodes-Conway faces challenger Gloria Reyes. While both candidates claim progressive platforms, the two have varying views on some major issues.
  • Finance: The two candidates differ starkly when it comes to balancing the city's budget. Madison is likely to face a massive deficit in the near future if the city doesn't figure out how to increase revenue. Rhodes-Conway called on state legislators to increase shared revenue. Reyes rebuked this idea and instead opted for spending cuts.
  • Public safety: Reyes, a former Madison Police Officer, advocated for body cameras, focusing on youth intervention, and increased police staffing to address public safety concerns in the city. Both she and Rhodes-Conway have said they would prioritize a "public health approach to violence." Rhodes-Conway has been indecisive on body cameras for police officers but said she's interested to see the results of the city's pilot program, which is set to launch this year.
  • Housing: When it comes to addressing Madison's housing shortage, Rhodes-Conway has emphasized policy and zoning changes as a path toward creating more density. Reyes argued for building more city systems to empower minority communities to become homeowners. Both candidates have received donations from local real estate developers.
  • Learn more about the candidates: City Cast Madison interviewed the two candidates. You can listen to ​​Rhodes-Conway’s interview here and Reyes’ here.
Madison's aldermanic districts.

✏️ Every City Council seat is up for election.

🍎 There's one contested Madison School Board race.

  • Who’s running? Former Madison educator Blair Feltham and former Madison City Council candidate Badri Lankella are both on the ballot for Seat 6. Seat 7 incumbent Nicki Vander Meulen is running unopposed.
  • Whoever wins the April 4 election will help choose the incoming superintendent, make budgetary decisions, and address the issues facing the district today.
  • Dig deeper: Madison School Board forum exposes candidates' differences (Cap Times)
Image via Shutterstock

🔎 A look at the six referendums on Madison ballots.

Madison voters will see six referendums on their ballot. Three from the state, two from Dane County, and one from the city.

From the state:

  • The first two statewide referendums ask about broadening the criteria that judges may use when setting cash bail, before and after a person is convicted of a crime. The outcome of these questions could potentially change state laws.
  • The third question asks if "able-bodied, childless adults" should have to look for work in order to receive welfare benefits. This one is a non-binding referendum, meaning its vote outcome won't change state law. It’s meant as a means to measure public opinion.
  • Proponents of the cash bail amendments say the proposal will help improve public safety. But opponents say the law change will disproportionately impact low-income people, increase racial disparity in the justice system, and violate the rights of those who haven't yet been proven guilty.
  • Dig deeper: From cash bail to public benefits: What Wisconsin voters need to know about April 4 referendums (WPR)

From the county:

  • Dane County voters will see these two advisory referendums on the April ballot. The referendums are just meant to assess public opinion and won't change any laws.
  • The first question asks voters "Should the Wisconsin Constitution be amended to require a nonpartisan system for redistricting legislative and congressional districts in the state?" The sponsors of this item hope to use the question as a "bid to address Wisconsin’s reputation as an extreme example of gerrymandering," according to WORT.
  • The second question asks "Should the Wisconsin Legislature adopt an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution creating a new right to privacy that would protect rights such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and interracial marriage?" It was drafted in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last June.
  • Dig deeper: What Do The Advisory Dane County Referendums Mean To Voters? (WORT)

From the city:

  • The city has a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether or not aldermanic terms should be staggered.
  • Here's the exact language: "Shall the Charter Ordinances of the City of Madison be amended to establish staggered two-year terms for members of the Common Council beginning in 2025, with the 2025 Spring Election including one-year terms for alders in even-numbered Districts and subsequent elections the term for all alders shall be two years?"
  • If voters say "yes" to the question, starting in 2025, alders in even-numbered districts would be up for election in even-numbered years and alders in odd-numbered districts would be up for election in odd-numbered years.
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🎙️ Today on City Cast Madison

Photo by Michael Lemberger

Does This City Ordinance Spark Joy?

Every year, the Madison City Council adds new city ordinances to the books. More rules, more things made illegal. There are 45 chapters of them, regulating everything from liquor licenses to signs.

But every so often, someone comes along with an eye toward clean up. Someone who looks through the pages and pages of city laws… and finds the outdated, ridiculous or potentially discriminatory ones that need to go.

Meet Grant Foster, a city alder representing Madison’s near east side. Aka, the Marie Kondo of local law.

And yes, we are here to ask, “Does this city ordinance spark joy?”


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