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Wisconsin voters approve measures that will change the way elections are run in the battleground state

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Wisconsin voters on Tuesday night approved two Republican-backed measures that will change the way elections are run in the pivotal battleground state. 

A majority of Wisconsin voters supported a state constitutional amendment to prevent local governments from using private donations to fund the administrative side of elections. They also voted in favor of a rule that prohibits anyone other than election officials from performing election-related duties.  

Republicans have championed the amendments as methods of decreasing outside influence on the state's elections. Meanwhile, Democrats have opposed them, arguing they lead to unnecessary ambiguity for election officials, especially as they have struggled with resources in recent years.  

The measures are aimed at addressing concerns conservatives had during the 2020 election over millions of dollars in grants being donated to Wisconsin's largest cities by a voting rights group. 

That year, the Center for Tech and Civic Life donated more than $8 million to five major Wisconsin hubs as part of a national initiative to help local governments manage the costs associated with elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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Election officials who received the money said it helped them meet increased demand for absentee ballots and vote-by-mail initiatives. But Republican groups argued the money was largely spent in Democratic strongholds and tilted the results of the race.  

In Wisconsin, conservative groups encouraged voters to prevent the practices from continuing in 2024 and beyond by voting "yes" on the two ballot measures. Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP 2024 presidential nominee, also weighed in ahead of Tuesday's election. His campaign encouraged voters to support the measures in a post on social media last week. 

Democrats and election integrity groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, largely opposed the two amendments. They said banning private funding for election administration without supplementing it with investment from the government would hamper the critical work of election offices across the state.  

Additionally, they expressed concerns that the law would create widespread uncertainty over what types of private resources - including non-public polling place locations and voting machines - Wisconsin election offices could use. 

Contributing: Hope Karnopp and Jessie Opoien, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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