Wisconsin Democrats try to get abortion on the April ballot

MADISON, Wis. — Democrats Tuesday pushed to get the issue of abortion on the ballot for the upcoming April election through an advisory referendum that is almost certain to be blocked by Republicans in the state Legislature.

The move comes as both sides of the aisle are looking to tack issues onto the April ballot in an effort to increase turnout for a key state Supreme Court race that will decide the balance of the bench and could set policy on abortion and gerrymandering.

Republicans this week are voting on whether to put the issue of bail reform as a constitutional amendment before the voters in April — a move that is likely to pass. Senate Republicans are taking an additional vote Tuesday on an advisory referendum related to work requirements for welfare recipients, while Democrats are attaching their abortion referendum to that work requirement vote.

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“I think [it is] frankly ridiculous to have an advisory referendum on something that already exists,” Gov. Tony Evers said of the work requirement referendum during the news conference. “They [Republicans] continue to act like there’s room for compromise when it comes to restoring the constitutional rights and freedoms Wisconsinites had for almost 50 years before those freedoms were taken away from them in one fell swoop.”

Neither the work requirement nor abortion advisory referenda will have any effect on state law, and are instead both essentially a poll of the Wisconsinites who cast their ballots during that election.

It would, however, mirror similar advisory referenda that take place at the county level. In November, an abortion advisory referendum in Dane County was approved with more than 85% support.