Crucial or clutter? There's more on the Nov. 4th ballot than candidates

MILWAUKEE CO. (WITI) -- When voters head to the polls on November 4th, many will find a long list of questions in addition to the candidates. Some of it could be considered "clutter" -- other parts, crucial.

"I'm afraid what's going to happen is that people are going to have trouble differentiating between referenda that mean something versus referenda that are just sort of throw away what's your opinion," said Mordecai Lee, UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs.

If you're a voter in Milwaukee County, there's an entire second page consisting of yes or no questions. One of those queries is appearing statewide -- and could spawn lasting effects.

"The referendum about the transportation fund, this is real, this is big. This is important and whatever we say in terms of a majority of voters, that's going to be a change in the Wisconsin constitution," said Lee.

But Lee says others are mostly glorified public opinion polls.

But posing these questions to voters does carry a price tag. The Milwaukee County clerk says the five referenda facing voters in his county cost about $21,000.

"The cost to Milwaukee County includes the printing of the ballot, the programming of the voting equipment, the ballot scanning machines and then the publishing of the legal notices in the newspapers as required by law," said Joe Czarnecki, Milwaukee County Clerk.

For voters perplexed about wading through all the extras on election day, Prof. Lee has this advice:

"My gosh, you got to vote on the governor's race, you got to vote on the attorney general's race. Then if you don't mind, you might shift your attention after that to the referenda," said Lee.

A typical election ballot would have one or two referenda. So this season's ballot is unusual that way.