RACINE — This Tuesday, when Racine voters head to the polls to vote for aldermen and state superintendent, they will also have the opportunity to weigh in on a referendum regarding the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign contributions.
The advisory referendum considers whether or not to implement the “We the People amendment,” which states that only humans should have constitutional rights and money is not a protected speech, and therefore, should be regulated.
The measure strives to limit political spending to allow Americans to more fully participate in the democratic process without the influence of special interest money.
“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said Bill Earley, a local advocate for the amendment.
The referendum, which is supported by Wisconsin United to Amend, a grassroots, nonpartisan volunteer-based organization, is being voted on Tuesday in the City of Racine after the Racine City Council approved the referendum’s appearance on the ballot in January. Other municipalities, however, will not vote on the issue.
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“We have to go to each municipality and ask the governing authority, city council, village trustees, to authorize placing a referendum question on the ballot,” Earley said. “That is something each municipality controls. But it’s so powerful because in the process, we are educating the public and building resolve that things are wrong and we want them corrected. Eventually, our legislators will no longer be able to ignore the will of their constituents.”
Multiple polls show more than 90 percent of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns, according to Earley. Nationwide, 18 state legislatures have done likewise, as have more than 730 towns, villages, cities and counties.
“The resolution directs the clerk of the municipality to send the results of the referendum to state and federal legislators — those that are connected to Racine County,” Earley said.
If the referendum passes, the City of Racine will become one of 106 Wisconsin communities to back the amendment.