Outdated Law Behind Scott Walker Recall

More than 80 years later, recall laws haven’t changed, but Wisconsin has.

Madison, Wis.—Eighty-six years ago, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s son was newly elected to the U.S. Senate, the Great Depression was a thing of the future, and Wisconsin—a mere 78 years old—amended the state constitution to allow the recall of elected officials.

Times have changed, but Wisconsin’s recall law?

Not so much.

“But I’m sure we’re going to be reviewing it just because of the cost of the election, and I think people, they have election fatigue,” said state Rep. Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel), chairman of the Assembly’s Election and Campaign Reform Committee, adding, “I think it’s something we need to look at it. There’s definitely a problem.”

Nine Wisconsin state senators faced recalls last year. Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four state senators face recall elections June 5.

So whether state laws governing recalls are up to snuff is a matter of some importance.

In Conflict

In at least one instance, state statute conflicts with constitutional law, as Wisconsin Reporter noted recently.

The statute requiring a 21-day time frame for absentee voting conflicts with the constitutional provision requiring a recall election to be held four weeks after a primary, given that election officials need time after the primary to await absentee ballots, canvass, and certify the results.

The Government Accountability Board, the state’s election watchdog, heard testimony from staff Tuesday regarding how the state’s review of recall petitions compares to the Verify The Recall effort, a software-based petition review process from True the Vote, a self-described nonpartisan nonprofit affiliated with the Tea Party.

The GAB staff analysis indicated that the VTR process relied too much on automation, which led to acceptable names being stricken, such as when “Mary Lee Smith” signed her name as “Mary L. Smith.”

But GAB also noted VTR’s review standards are much more rigorous than the state’s, leaving some people scratching their heads.

True the Vote’s process “uses a significantly more demanding standard which would result in far more signatures being eliminated than should be struck under the substantial-compliance standard that has been developed under Wisconsin law,” GAB staff said. “While the GAB’s petition analysis has clear rules based upon the Statutes, the rigid standards of this particular software are ill-suited to the review process.”

The question, VTR and others are asking, is, shouldn’t recall petition standards be rigorous?

True the Vote responded in an email saying, “VTR’s overarching goal throughout its many (and ongoing) efforts is to ensure the integrity of Wisconsin’s election processes... VTR looks forward to continuing its work with the GAB to improve the integrity and transparency of Wisconsin’s recall processes, and to ensure that Wisconsin citizens have a voice in the verification and challenge process.”

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  • PaganPriestess||


  • Almanian's Evil Twin||


  • mr simple||

    I have no problem with the citizenry of any locality being able to recall their elected officials for whatever reason, be it incompetence or bad breath. I do see the need to make it at least a little troublesome to enact so that it doesn't become a weapon for today's vindictive partisans.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Exactly. Also, I have no doubt WI Republicans (among others) are noting this law for potential future use.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Could we just tar and feather the miscreants instead? Meet in town square with torches and pitchforks and take a vote. If the incumbent loses, out of town he goes on a rail. The pitchforks help reduce the number of voters next time.

  • Mo||

    I agree. The California recall provision similarly "misused" against Gray Davis*. I don't remember similar handwringing from Reason about that. If a guy pisses off the electorate enough to be recalled, let him defend himself.

    * Not that I mourn the end of his political career the least bit.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Recall is a check on government power. While I'm not all for adding more democratic elements to the system, fearing the tyranny of the majority as much as other tyrannies, this seems reasonable enough.

  • MOFO.||

    This is hand-wringing?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||


  • Pro Libertate||

    Fuck, recall 'em daily. Recall the recalled. Recall the recalled and replace them the recalled.

    Political office is a privilege, not a right.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Are you serious? Are you SERIOUS?!

  • ||

    With a little effort, we can make it a curse.

    "Abandon all hope, ye who get elected here!"

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Recalls are expensive. I would prefer to see a celebrity death match. If they both die, its a win-win.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The method of recall can vary, just amend your local constitution. Or amend to allow for tar-and-feathering.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Pols! They are nothing but a low-down, double-dealing, backstabbing, larcenous perverted worms! Hanging's too good for them. Burning's too good for them! They should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!

    But I paraphrase ...

  • jacob the barbarian||

    No more thing. "Fuck em daily"!? OK. With what?

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's that thing they use to prod cattle called?

  • SugarFree||


  • Pro Libertate||

    Like that, but proddier.

  • JoshSN||

    The question, VTR and others are asking, is, shouldn’t recall petition standards be rigorous?

    Someone who signs their name Mary L. Smith when their name is clearly Mary Lee Smith doesn't deserve the right to vote!

    Neither is anyone who signs their name "Jack" when their name is John, or "Zeb" for "Zebediah."

    The suffrage was never intended for the likes of those!

  • ||

    Although the article itself attempts to be more of a news piece than an opinion piece, the headline is clearly biased ("outdated").

    And I just don't get the big deal.


  • XM||

    Any recall should resemble the California model, where (1) voters vote on the recall itself AFTER the signatures are gathered (2) if it passes, then the candidates need not win separate primaries, and multiple candidates from the sing party can run for the office.

    Schwarzenneger had to beat out Cruz Bustamante AND MCclintock to win the 03 CA recall. A bunch other Democrats, Republicans, and independents also ran. That sort of prevents one party or one group from hijacking the process.

  • XM||


  • jason||

    these protesters are bringing such a change in the government streets

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    Value of very well fitting Nike Free Run 1 shoes or boots for diabetics, is a huge issue for doctor's within the U.Ersus. for various a long time. http://www.freerunningnike.org.....s-c-6.html Health professionals had noticed unwanted hospitalizations and amputations that were the results of sneakers by which didn't healthy.

  • دردشه عراقية||



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