Hey! What Are These Questions on My Ballot?

Julaine Appling

2020 | Week of September 28 | Radio Transcript #1379

Events in our state and nation are happening at break-neck speed as Election Day 2020 nears. Last week, a federal judge changed the deadline for absentee ballots and online registrations, a ruling that was temporarily stopped by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals late this past Sunday.

Then, on Thursday, Governor Evers issued his third COVID-related statewide public health emergency declaration, along with a statewide mask order. Late Saturday afternoon, President Trump publicly announced that conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett is his nominee to fill the vacancy on the US Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Ginsburg. The expected firestorm erupted; now all eyes are on the US Senate as they begin nomination hearings.

Obviously, there’s no lack of issues to address. And the one I’m going to deal with today isn’t any of these I’ve mentioned, but it’s one we are getting many inquiries about as absentee ballots begin arriving in mailboxes and as people begin looking at their sample ballots on myvotewi.gov.

The question of the day is, “what are these ballot questions or referenda I have on my ballot?  What are they talking about? How should I vote on them?” First, let me make it very clear that there is no statewide referendum on anyone’s ballot this election. None. That said, there are about 180 local referenda on ballots in various communities around the state.

These referenda on ballots right now are put on by local units of government, either county boards, school boards, or local municipalities. Each of these referenda are either binding or non-binding, or what we call “advisory” referenda.  A binding referendum requires that the unit of government that put the referendum on the ballot must do or must not do whatever the people say by their vote. If they pass the referendum, then the unit of government and elected officials must respect that, just as they must respect the expressed will of the people if the measure fails. In other words, they are “bound” to do whatever the will of the people was as reflected by their vote.

A non-binding or advisory referendum is one that no matter how the people vote on the measure, no unit of government, no elected official must do or not do something as a result of the vote. In other words, elected officials and units of government are not “bound” to an action no matter the outcome. An advisory referendum does what it says. It gives “advice” to the elected officials regarding what the will is of the people who voted is.

As near as we can tell, there are basically three non-binding or advisory referenda appearing on many ballots this cycle. They have to do with these three issues: declaring that “only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights—not corporations, unions, non-profits or other artificial entities,” determining that local officials should be able to override the decisions of county health officials, and pushing a so-called “non-partisan” means of redistricting the state rather than having the state legislature vote on it. I repeat; all of these are strictly advisory.

If your ballot has something about your school district seeking additional funding or if you have a referendum with specific statutory authority cited, then it is likely a binding referendum. Since typically the language of any these referenda does not make it clear whether it is binding or just advisory, we highly recommend you call your municipal clerk and ask if you have any question.

So why are these advisory referenda even on ballots if they really don’t mean anything or make a difference?  They are on there primarily because liberal progressives figured out that most people don’t know that they are just advisory. So those pushing liberal candidates that are on the ballot for real, use hot-button issues in these referenda to push their people to the polls. When they vote on the referendum, they also vote for the liberal candidates. I can prove this by two postcards that arrived at my house in the last few days. Both cards make it sound as if my vote on the referendum question will be truly meaningful and difference-making. Not so. But my votes for the candidates they are also pushing would certainly be meaningful and difference making.

What this means is there is no right or wrong answer on an advisory referendum, because it ultimately doesn’t mean much, if anything, and right now it’s just political bait to help make sure certain people vote. Visit wifamilycouncil.org for more information on this issue.

Bottom line: first, vote. We can’t overemphasize that. And we encourage you to vote BEFORE November 3. Second, check your ballot before you vote. Be sure you know what’s on it so you can truly honor God with your vote by casting a knowledgeable and responsible ballot.

For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling, reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Julaine Appling has taught on the junior high, high school, and college levels, and for five years was the administrator of a private school. In 1998 she was asked to become the Executive Director of Wisconsin Family Council, where her mission is to advance Judeo-Christian principles and values in Wisconsin by strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty. In addition to regularly being interviewed for Wisconsin television, radio, and newspapers, she is the host of "Wisconsin Family Connection," aired weekly on almost 50 radio stations in Wisconsin including the VCY America radio network.

Learn more at WIFamilyCouncil.org

Leave a Reply