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How communities will address Wisconsin's new referendums

Wisconsin voters recently approved two referendums that aim to add more security to the state's election process. Election officials say they'll need clarification before the next election.
Posted at 5:17 AM, Apr 18, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Only appointed election officials can conduct elections.

That's what Wisconsin voters decided during the last primary earlier this month, but what does that mean?

Green Bay City Clerk Celestine Jeffreys says she's patiently waiting for the Wisconsin Elections Commission to come back with more guidance on how to implement both referendums.

"I will be very, very happy when they come back with some guidance for clerks," Jeffreys said.

The first referendum voters passed aims to keep outside money away from Wisconsin elections, and the second referendum requires only election officials to administer elections.

Jeffreys says keeping outside money away from Green Bay elections won't be difficult, but she will need clarification from the W.E.C. to ensure all workers are compliant before the next election.

"We haven't had any grant funding since mid-2021, and so we have been funding our elections appropriately. We have been running it two and a half years - really three - with just taxpayer money, and it's been running very well. I've been very pleased," Jeffreys said.

"What do you think is going to be the biggest obstacle moving forward between now and the next election when it comes to these two referendums," NBC 26 Today's MacLeod Hageman asked.

"Actually, so the biggest obstacle is "Who is an election official, and how do I make them one?" That's the biggest obstacle," Jeffreys said.

According to John Smalley with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, "After the spring election has been certified by the commission - likely in early to mid-May - they will turn their attention to the referendum questions and any needed follow-up by the agency."

Jeffreys said she expects poll workers to undergo more training before the next election, but she's waiting for more clarification.

"You know what, I'm going to make it work. I'm going to make it work, because if this is what the voters Wisconsin want, then this is what we are going to deliver on, and again, my primary focus is to ensure that any person who's eligible to register, eligible to vote in the state of Wisconsin and in the city of Green Bay that they have their best election day experience with us," Jeffreys said.

Again, The Wisconsin Elections Commission has until May 15 to certify the primary results.

Once that's done, they'll be able to decide the best way to move forward with future elections.