By Srijan Sen
The Wisconsin spring elections are less than a week away.
On April 7, 2015 among other local official, state offices of Justice of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals Judge (District I and III), and Circuit Court Judge will be up for election.
Although not a high-profile election, the Supreme Court Justice reelection campaign has drawn national interest.
James Daley, a Rock County circuit judge, is challenging incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The election outcome will not dramatically alter the state Supreme Court’s ideological balance as Justices leaning hold four of the seven Justices have strong conservative ties.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is officially nonpartisan, but has become polarized between four conservatives and three liberals.
This spring election features the two-year cycle where all elected town board positions are also reelected. In addition, there also will be two state items on the ballot: election of a state Supreme Court justice and a state constitutional amendment referendum on the election of the chief justice.
Currently Wisconsin’s chief justice of the state Supreme Court is the longest-serving member, however the proposed amendment would instead select the chief justice through an election by a majority of the justices then serving on the court.
This proposal, placed on the ballot by a Republican held Legislature, is seen by the opposition as a partisan attack on the current Chief Justice, Shirley S. Abrahamson, who is considered part of the court’s liberal bloc.
The Court’s ideological leaning has recently come into light following investigation into whether Gov. Walker’s campaign worked inappropriately with conservative groups on a series of recall elections, including the Governor’s own, that has yet to produce any result.
Wisconsin’s contentious voter id laws will not be in effect for this election, but Attorney General Brad Schimel clarified the laws will be applicable in subsequent elections.
Wisconsin’s chief election official, Kevin Kennedy said the Government Accountability Board anticipates there will be special elections in 2015 at which photo ID will be required.
Even though voters will not have to show an ID to receive a ballot at this election, those registering now in the municipal clerk’s office or at the polling place on Election Day may use a driver license or state ID card to establish residence provided a current address is mentioned. The next statewide election at which photo ID will be required is the Spring Primary on Feb. 16, 2016
Large financial contributions from special interest groups in state elections have been a consistent polarizing factor in recent Wisconsin elections as made evident during the 2014 gubernatorial elections.
Incumbent Justice Bradley voiced deep concern about the role of big money in the race and said that she will not accept contributions from political parties, lawyers or groups with cases before the court.
“I truly believe that partisan politics and out-of-state special interests have no place in our courtrooms,” Justice Bradley told the New York Times.
Early voting ends this Friday at 5 PM or later at your local clerk’s office. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.