Why your April 4 vote matters
April 4 will decide control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Daniel Kelly, a conservative supported by Republicans, and Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal supported by Democrats, are vying to win a 10-year term in the general election.
Conservative justices now have a 4-3 majority. This election will either keep that majority or switch it to the liberals. Four years ago, 6,000 votes decided a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, while three in four eligible voters stayed home. This election could be just as close.
The winner will rule on:
To help you decide
Here’s background on the candidates’ experience, positions, publicized endorsements, and relevant rulings. For how and when to vote, see below
The candidates and outside groups are spending record-breaking amounts of money on this election, mostly on ads. Political ads can be misleading. You can use our Detecting Disinformation guide to help assess them—and follow our links to the candidates’ actual positions.
Kelly graduated from Carroll University and earned a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, where he was founding editor of the Law Review. He clerked on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where he was then a staff attorney. He was in private practice for more than two decades. In 2016 Republican Governor Scott Walker appointed Kelly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 2020, his term ended and he was not re-elected. He became a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Reforming Government. He was also special counsel to the Wisconsin Republican Party when it contested Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss and convened a pro-Trump alternative slate of electors.
Kelly’s endorsements include Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley—part of the Court’s conservative bloc—conservative primary candidate Judge Jennifer Dorow, and Appeals Court judge Shelley Grogan, and 42 Wisconsin county sheriffs, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund PAC, Wisconsin Family Action, and Wisconsin Right to Life.
Protasiewicz graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and earned a J.D. from Marquette University Law School, where she was later an adjunct Professor of Law. She was a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney for more than 25 years. In 2014 she was elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, where she now works in Family Court and has presided over homicide, sexual assault, misdemeanor, domestic violence, and drug courts.
Protasiewicz’s endorsements include current Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Dallet, Jill Karovsky, and Ann Walsh Bradley—the Court’s liberal bloc—Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, Planned Parenthood, American Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, and other unions, elected officials, Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell, Governor Tony Evers, and 114 current or former judges.
To vote in Wisconsin, you’ll need to register, discover your voting options, and find your polling place for in-person voting. Here’s where to go to make all that happen.
All voters in Wisconsin can request an absentee ballot be mailed to them for any reason, so long as they’ve already registered. You can request an absentee ballot on the MyVote site and must provide a copy of a valid photo ID with your first absentee ballot request.