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GAB: No WI Senate recall decisions until March 12

By   /   February 23, 2012  /   No Comments

By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — The Government Accountability Board doesn’t plan to rule on the validity of state Senate recall petitions until March 12, in hopes that any recall elections ordered can be scheduled for the same election day.

“We believe this approach is better for the taxpayers, because it reduces the costs of conducting multiple elections, and better for the voters because it avoids possible confusion about who is on the ballot and for what office,” GAB Director Kevin Kennedy wrote in a letter last Friday to the Wisconsin County Clerks Association and the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association

“We also believe it is better for local election officials, because you can focus your energy on two possible election events rather than four or possibly more additional election events within a short period of time, and it helps to minimize challenges related to the availability of voting machine memory devices,” Kennedy wrote.

Gov. Scott Walker has until Monday to challenge the reported 1 million signatures collected against him.

The GAB has until March 19 to determine whether enough valid signatures were collected to push Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators into recall elections.

But challenges and responses to those challenges have been submitted in the recall efforts against state Sens. Pam Galloway of Wausau, Van Wanggaard of Racine, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, the Senate majority leader.

So the GAB could move forward with those, holding a public hearing on the signatures’ validity and scheduling any recall elections that result. 

The board, though, will hold off until March 12, the date the GAB has scheduled a special meeting to determine the sufficiency of the Senate recall petitions.

Absent a court order allowing for more time, state law requires that a recall election be held the sixth Tuesday following a “certification of sufficiency” or a recall petition. The general election gets pushed back, if a primary election is necessary.

Kennedy wrote his letter in response to a letter Fitzgerald sent to the Wisconsin County Clerks Association suggesting that the GAB was working to hold the Senate recall elections on a day separate from the potential recall elections of Walker and Kleefisch.

Fitzgerald wanted to give clerks an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter to the GAB, said Dan Romportl, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate.

“We’ve been vocal about our concerns about these costs that are being imposed by these municipalities and these counties,” Romportl said. “Obviously, on the Republican side, we think these recalls are frivolous.”
A GAB study estimates a statewide recall election could cost taxpayers at least $9 million. That figure climbs with additional elections. 

Kennedy’s letter acknowledges the difficulty of trying to work the system, so all recall elections are held on one day.

But, he wrote, “our focus is on conducting our review of the petitions and challenges as efficiently as possible. If recall elections are scheduled, we prefer them to be on the same sets of dates, because that is what is best for taxpayers, voters and local election officials.”

Randolph Brandt, who has helped lead the recall campaign against Wanggaard, said he would like the GAB to proceed quickly.

Still, Brandt said the accountability board “is the authority, and I think that we fully accept that authority and that process, confident in its results.”

Democrats, too, are preparing for the potential election, he said, including, in the case of the Wanggaard recall drive, setting up a campaign headquarters in Racine.

“There’s no lack of enthusiasm” for the recall, he said.