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Voting by college students in La Crosse could be affected by election lawsuit in county court



Should college students be allowed to vote on local elections in the town where they attend school?

People have argued for years that students who don’t live full-time where they attend college could unfairly sway some races. Residency is one issue at stake in a La Crosse county lawsuit scheduled to be heard again on Friday by a local judge.

Jay Heck of Wisconsin Common Cause believes that some Republicans want to restrict the ability of students to vote in certain races, such as for county sheriff, “because they figure that the fewer number of people that vote in Wisconsin, or any other state in the country, the better it is for Republicans.”

“Well, that’s a pretty profoundly sad reason, for you to be in public office or running to hold public office,” Heck tells WIZM. Common Cause has declared it is an interested party in the case.

FILE – A partial recount of the La Crosse County sheriff’s election took place on Nov. 18th, 2022

The local suit questioning La Crosse County election procedures was filed after last November’s race for sheriff. Judge Elliott Levine could issue a ruling in favor of the citizen who filed the suit, or favoring the county clerk’s office. County officials are seeking dismissal of the suit, in which county clerk Ginny Dankmeyer is listed as the main defendant.

The plaintiff, citizen Mary Jo Werner, does not dispute that John Siegel was the winner over Fritz Leinfelder in the vote for sheriff. Rather, Werner is challenging the transparency of how the county clerk carried out the recount. Friday’s scheduled hearing comes exactly nine months to the day after the county conducted the recount for sheriff.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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  1. Carol Herlitzka

    August 18, 2023 at 8:15 am

    College students should vote in there states and cities where they live. Not where they go to college!
    Common sense, should register in there brain..where do you play your taxes?? Do you own a home in your college town!!?? Pay property taxes? Yearly? Don’t stick your views on the town where you go to college.

    • Mark

      August 18, 2023 at 6:17 pm

      Paying taxes and owning property are not part of American right to vote. It’s a good thing too. Owning property tied to voting goes back to the feudal system in England, which our founding fathers rejected when they drew up the Constitution. Your argument would take the right to vote away from our military. And college kids pay plenty of local sales taxes that you’d hate to lose.

    • Pogge Bee

      August 19, 2023 at 9:13 am

      Those kids don’t own homes in their home “states and cities” and voting is not restricted to those of us who pay property taxes.

      If Republicans want citizens attending universities to vote in their hometowns, common sense would advise them to encourage absentee voting. They fight it instead.

      You can’t have it both ways in a healthy democracy.

    • Andrew

      August 21, 2023 at 8:34 pm

      College students live in the cities in which their colleges are for at least 8 months out of the year. That is enough to declare residency. Whether or not they pay property taxes is irrelevant, as that is not, nor should be, a requirement to vote.

  2. Kevin

    August 18, 2023 at 8:16 am

    People want voters in an election to be committed stake holders. Having been a university student, and knowing the transient nature of university students, i would rather they did not vote in the higher stakes local elections for community policy, programs, leaders that will have no long term monetary or policy exposure too.

    Feedback from poll workers, from the university district, that i live and vote in has also lead me to believe that the university vote is skewed. It is skewed as a result of the professors & instructors that are largely democrat in nature. These folks push that democrat talking points and policies. They provide incentive in the form of ‘extra credit’ to the voters, which in my humble opinion has two problems: 1) it is payment for a vote, 2) it is unfair to those students that are not of voting age. This is the most serious issue of allowing college students vote in local elections. They are predominantly influence by a skewed perspective of policy.

    Different poll workers have seen such stupid things going on as the ‘girl friends’ leading their boyfriends into the polling place and coercing them to vote, and vote for their policy preferences. Being a man, and recognizing the influence of the female, on an unprepared and frankly overly hormonal mind, i can see that this is basically blackmail, once again, a seemingly trivial case, but blackmail none the less. College boys, and I use the term boys purposely, seemingly are susceptible to this type of pressure, who knows why (they vote with their schwantz maybe), but another reason to limit the voting power of the easily coercible.

  3. Tom

    August 18, 2023 at 8:41 am

    It’s the same for members of the military. They absentee vote to their hometown. To do otherwise requires change of residency.

  4. walden

    August 18, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    This reminds me of the UWL scam where students were asked to approve raising “fees” to fund new dorms and athletic facilities; but the fee increase was not to take effect until 5 years later when all of the voting students will have finished their schooling and moved on.

    Of course they voted to increase fees. Same goes for voting for politicians; it’s easy to vote for something when you won’t be around to see the consequences.

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