Wisconsin towns launch anti-war referendums

From Madison’s Capital Times, March 18:

Wisconsin will blaze a trail in April when, for the first time, voters will go to the polls as part of a statewide effort to pass referendums opposed to the war in Iraq.

“We see the Wisconsin campaign itself as a bellwether of national opinion,” said Karen Dolan, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Cities for Progress project, which is helping local governments pass resolutions against the war.

“The fact that the post-invasion peace resolutions have become statewide affairs is indicative of the high level of concern and dissatisfaction among a broad sector of our citizens. Activists in other states are hoping to follow Wisconsin’s model.”

National peace activists will be watching closely on April 4 when voters in 32 Wisconsin communities weigh in on resolutions that call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Candidates running for office this fall will also likely take notice.

While lawmakers in more than 50 city and town governments across the country have passed anti-war resolutions, and voters at more than 40 town meetings in Vermont passed similar measures, the Wisconsin elections mark the first time that voters will see such a question on a ballot.

Only one Wisconsin community – Evansville – will also have a resolution on the April ballot opposing troop withdrawal. Ozaukee County will have a referendum in “support of U.S. anti-terror efforts” on the ballot in November.

The referendums are not legally binding, but supporters of immediate withdrawal hope that, if successful, their initiatives will put pressure on politicians in Washington to ratchet up efforts to disengage from Iraq.

“This ballot referendum is a chance for voters to go in and give their opinion on the current policy,” said Barbara Smith, who has been active in the anti-war referendum efforts in Madison. “It is a chance to say we want to change the war policy.”

See our last posts on the anti-war movement and the nationwide municipal revolt.

  1. Clarification
    Just to clarify the status of town antiwar resolutions in Vermont, 5 towns voted this year (March 2006) to impeach Bush. Over 50 towns voted last year on the war. Only a few were explicitly against the war; the majority were to investigate the domestic consequences of having VT National Guard troops in Iraq. There’s an ongoing effort to get the VT Legislature to act on the National Guard issue. To receive updates, contact VT-AFSC c/o JGainza[at]afsc.org.