Come Feb. 20, the polls will open for Wisconsinites to cast their ballots for the 2018 spring primary.
All 37 seats on the Dane County Board are up for election, with five contested races for districts 6, 11, 15, 24 and 32. Districts 6, 11 and 15 will be on the primary ballot.
Voters will also be able to cast their pick for a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The general election will be held April 3.
Justice of the state Supreme Court
The three candidates on the ballot are Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet, Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock and Madison attorney Tim Burns.
Even though this race is nonpartisan, Burns and Dallet are supported by Democrats and Screnock is supported by Republicans, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
The three candidates participated in a forum early February in Milwaukee where they discussed their judicial philosophies, decision-making process and the importance of keeping personal views out of decisions.
“The role of a justice, I believe strongly, is to set aside whatever personal beliefs you have about any issue and decide the case only on the law and only on the facts,” Screnock said.
Screnock said it’s critically important the court follows the rule of law, does research and goes where the law takes it instead of injecting personal or political beliefs.
The court’s job is to decide whether or not legislators have overstepped constitutional boundaries, not to decide whether or not they’ve made bad choices, Screnock said.
But Burns said the idea that judges are not political is a “fairy tale.”
Burns is running an “openly” progressive campaign, something he said he knew wouldn’t be viewed favorably by judges and lawyers.
“I believe if voters are going to elect judges, it is incumbent in a democracy that the judges are candid about their political values because we all know those values impact decisions,” Burns said.
Burns also emphasized the importance of understanding the law’s purpose and what’s intended by the law by those who wrote it.
Dallet, however, takes issue with the current court system getting an end result quickly rather than following and applying the law.
“We are at a time right now when our rights are under attack, Dallet said. “Clean air and water, equal protection under the law and women are under attack, and we have a Supreme Court that’s broken … I want to return common sense to the bench — no more politics.”
The top two candidates will advance to the general election which will be held April 3. The winner of the general election will replace Justice Michael Gableman, who has been part of the conservative majority.
Dane County Board
At a January forum, Dane County Board candidates discussed core policies and issues they are looking to address if elected.
A common thread among the candidates running was addressing racial disparities in Dane County and increasing the transparency of Board meetings.
The forum’s audience asked questions about Madison’s homeless population and raising the minimum wage for county workers.
Here are the candidates on the primary ballot:
- Britt Cudaback
- Pam Porter
- Yogesh Chawl
- Heather Driscoll
- Nancy Bogue
- Kelly Danner
- Al Matano
- Steven Peters
- Brent Renteria
- Joseph Ryan
In an effort to prepare students for the primary, Associated Students of Madison partnered with the League of Women Voters of Dane County to get students registered to vote.
ASM Vice Chair Billy Welsh stressed how students have a responsibility to vote in all elections.
“Every vote counts, especially in a state like Wisconsin where it’s very competitive,” Welsh said. “Students have this right and should exercise it in every election.”
Regarding the election for the state Supreme Court, Voting Education Ambassador Janet Mills said it’s important to vote since decisions the court makes affect individuals all over the state, including students at the University of Wisconsin.
Depending on where students live on campus, polling places include the Red Gym, Frank Holt Center, Gordon Dining and Events Center, Smith Hall, Porchlight and Eagle Heights Community Center.
Students living off campus can find their polling place here.
The polls will open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.