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Wisconsin Deletion of Obsolete Provision Amendment, Question 3 (April 1986)

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The Wisconsin Suffrage Definition Amendment was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the April 1, 1986 ballot in Wisconsin, where it was approved.

This amendment was the second of three combined amendments in 1986 meant to modernize Article III and Article XIII of the state constitution regarding elections and suffrage. Question 3 specifically sought to remove an obsolete provision regarding the right to vote for people who lived on "Indian lands."[1]

Election results

Modernizing Constitutional Text
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 381,339 78.88%
No102,09021.12%

Official results via: The Wisconsin Blue Book 1987-1988

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

The amendment, separated into 3 questions, appeared on the ballot as follows:

QUESTION 1: "Suffrage defined by general law. Shall article III of the constitution be repealed and recreated so as:
(I) To remove the existing detailed provisions as to who may or may not vote (many of which are obsolete); and
(2) To substitute, instead, a new article that:
(a) Preserves the right of a secret ballot;
(b) Specifies that every U.S. citizen aged 18 or over who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified voter; and
(c) Provides that the legislature may enact laws on I) residency, 2) voter registration, 3) absentee voting, 4) concerning the exclusion from the right to vote of convicted felons and persons adjudged by a court to be incompetent, and 5) extending, subject to ratification by the people at a general election, the right of suffrage to additional classes?"

QUESTION 2: "Modernizing constitution text. Shall section I of article XIII of the constitution be amended to remove transitional and obsolete provisions and text, so as to make the section concerning the political year and general election conform to modern practice and useage?"

QUESTION 3: "Deletion of obsolete provision. Shall section 5 of article XIII of the constitution be repealed so as to remove an obsolete provision regarding where persons may vote if they reside on 'Indian lands'?" [1]

Constitutional changes

(NOTE: Scored material is added; stricken material is deleted; italics show text created.)

[Article III] Section 1. Every person, of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, belong to either of the following classes, who shall have resided in the state for one year next preceding any election, and in the election district where he offers to vote such time as may be prescribed by the legislature, not exceeding thirty days, shall be deemed a qualified elector at such election:
(1) Citizens of the United States.
(2) Persons of Indian blood, who have once been declared by law of congress to be citizens of the United States, any subsequent law of congress to the contrary notwithstanding.
(3)The legislature may at any time extend, by law, the right of suffrage to person not herein enumerated; bu no such law shall be in force until the same shall have been submitted to a vote of the people at a general election, and approved by a majority of all the votes cast on that question at such election; and provided further, that the legislature may provide for the registration of electors, and prescribe proper rules and regulations therefore.
Section 2. No person under guardianship, non compos mentis or insane shall be qualified to vote at any election; nor shall any person convicted of treason or felony be qualified to vote at any election unless restored to civil rights.
Section 3. All votes shall be given by ballot except for such township officers as may by law be directed or allowed to be otherwise chosen.
Section 4. No Person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in this state by reason of his absence on business of the United States or of this state.
Section 5. No soldier, seaman or marine in the army or navy of the United States shall be deemed a resident of this state in consequence of being stationed within the same.
Section 6. Laws may be passed excluding from the right of suffrage all persons who have been or may be convicted of bribery or larceny, or of any infamous crime, and depriving every person who shall make or become directly or indirectly interest in any bet or wage depending upon the result of any election from the right to vote at such election.

[Article III] Section I. Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district.
Section 2. Laws may be enacted:
(2) Providing for registration of electors.
(3) Providing for absentee voting.
(4) Excluding from the right of suffrage persons:
(a) Convicted of a felony, unless restored to civil rights.
(b) Adjudged by a court to be incompetent or partially incompetent, unless the judgment specifies that the person is capable of understanding the objective of the elective process or the judgment is set aside.
(5) Subject to ratification by the people at a general election, extending the right of suffrage to additional classes.
Section 3. All votes shall be by secret ballot.

[Article XIII] Section I. The political year for the this state of Wisconsin shall commence on the first Monday in of January in each year, and the general election shall be holden held on the Tuesday next succeeding the first Monday in of November in even-numbered years. The first general election for all state and county officers, except judicial officers, after the adoption of this amendment shall be holden in the year A.D. 1884, and thereafter the general election shall be held biennially. All state, county or other officers elected at the general election in the year 1881, and whose term of office would other expire on the first Monday or January in the year 1884, shall hold and continue in such office respectively until the first Monday in January in the year 1885.
[Article XIII] Section 5. All persons residing upon Indian lands, within any county of the state, and qualified to exercise the right of suffrage under constitution, shall be entitled to vote at the polls which may be held nearest their residence, for state, United States or county officers. Provided, that no person shall vote for county officers out of the county in which he resides.[1]

Path to the ballot

  • First Legislative Approval: AJR 33 & JR 30 (1983)
  • Second Legislative Approval: AJR 3 & JR 14 (1985)[2]

See also

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