Fast Facts: The questions on Wisconsin's spring 2023 ballot

Along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, voters across the state have three questions on the 2023 ballot: two would amend the state's constitution and the other is a non-binding referendum.

By Kristian Knutsen, Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

March 30, 2023

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As Wisconsinites cast their votes in the spring 2023 election, they will be supporting their favored candidates in local races, as well as in a high-profile contest for an open state Supreme Court seat. Those aren’t the only choices on the ballot, though. There are also three questions facing voters statewide. Two are related to the same proposed constitutional amendment, and the other is a non-binding referendum that would have no direct impact on state policy.

The constitutional amendment questions address how the state sets bail conditions for people accused of crimes.

Question one reads: “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?”

Meanwhile, question two reads: “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?”

The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill specifying which offenses would be considered a violent crime.

If these questions receive a majority of votes in the April 2023 election, the Wisconsin Constitution would be amended, and the governor is not able to veto the change.

Meanwhile, the other statewide question on the ballot would have no policy effect as it is a non-binding referendum. Question three reads: “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?”

Republicans say they added this question to the ballot as a way of gauging public opinion about the issue, while Democrats say it is intended to boost turnout among conservative voters in the state Supreme Court race.

To find more about what’s on your ballot, go to MyVote Wisconsin.

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