racine referendum

Challengers file appeal of $1 billion referendum in Racine (Wis.) district

May 7, 2020
April 7 referendum passed by 5 votes; challengers say some ballots were improperly rejected.

Opponents of a $1 billion referendum passed last month in the Racine (Wis.) Unified School District are asking the courts to intervene.

They contend that hundreds of voters were disenfranchised when their ballots were rejected and that the recount was biased because it was conducted by the district itself.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the referendum, which gives the district the authority to spend $1 billion on its buildings over the next 30 years, passed by five votes April 7 and was certified following a recount in late April.

The funds would be allocated for construction of new schools, modernization and major renovations, safety and security enhancements and upgraded technology

Voters representing local political and government watchdog groups filed a challenge to the referendum results in Racine County Circuit Court. They say the integrity of the vote "was completely lost and is not recoverable."

Racine Unified spokeswoman Stacy Tapp says the district was required to oversee the recount, but did so with help from city and county clerks and an attorney. She says the canvassers included district staff and poll workers, that the process followed Wisconsin Elections Commission procedures, and that the district streamed it live on Facebook.

"It was transparent, and decisions made by the Board of Canvassers were consistent," she says. "The petitioners were present and able to observe every step of the process."

The appeal was filed on behalf of the Racine Libertarian Party, the Racine Taxpayers Association and HOT Government.

According to the complaint, some ballots were rejected because the envelope created by the city obscured the postmark, and others were tossed because envelopes did not include witness addresses.

The challengers argue that the decision to accept some ballots and reject others was unreasonable and not consistent with Wisconsin election law.

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