Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Update in Wisconsin: 3 Democratic Senators Recalled

I'm a bit late tot he game, but I figured I might as way keep up with the latest recall efforts in Wisconsin. After filing many challenges and claims fraud was carried out by Republicans, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has recently voted to recall three Democratic state senators: Sens. Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch.

From TPM:
The board faced a conundrum, in that the Dems' challenges outlined a significant number of signatures that were the products of apparent fraud. But even without all the signatures that the Dems were able to question within their ten-day review period, there would still be enough signatures left to trigger recalls.

However, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the GAB's staff laid out several options for the board. The first option would be to green-light the recalls, on the grounds that enough signatures remain that have not been challenged. The other options, for which the staffers cited various precedents in other states, would be to disqualify all petition pages collected by certain signature-gatherers who had exhibited a pattern of fraud, beyond just a few disqualified signatures that normally occur -- which would shut down the three recalls in question -- or even to throw out all the petitions entirely as the ultimate sanction.

Democrats had used their ten-day response period, after Republican activists had submitted the completed petitions, to conduct extensive phone surveys of the people whose names were on the forms. Along the way, they produced affidavits from people alleging various dirty tricks, ranging from claims that they were misled into signing -- being told that it was to support the legislator in question, or to recall Walker, etc -- to claims from some individuals that they did not sign their names at all, but were forged as having done so (possibly by getting their names from the phonebook).

Most notoriously, the Dems found the purported signature of a man who had been dead for 20 years, but whose name was still in the phonebook (by peculiar circumstance, he was the father of a very liberal current Democratic state representative). In addition, they found a married couple for whom the signatures were clearly written in the same hand -- but both people have signed affidavits that neither of them actually did sign.

As one might expect, the Republican attorney Eric McLeod argued before the board that only specific, identified signatures should be tossed, preserving the state's constitutional right for voters to sign recall petitions. On the other side, both Democratic attorney Jeremy Levinson and GAB staff attorney Shane Falk have each been arguing in their own ways that petition efforts involving crooked circulators have to be held accountable in some way, in the name of protecting the process.

To be clear, this was a very serious decision, with major implications either way that were thoroughly discussed throughout the GAB's meeting. To throw out all of a crooked circulator's pages would very likely disenfranchise the signatures of many other people who had legitimately signed the papers in good faith, and might have helped constitute a sufficient number of people to hold a recall election against a legislator. But to leave the petitions in could potentially make it virtually impossible to disqualify future recalls that might entail extensive fraud, involving too many signatures for the opposition to effectively screen out. [...]

Ultimately, the board voted to send a message for future recalls, by voting to strike individual pages that were circulated by some of the more offensive petition-gatherers, on the pages that showed a pattern of fraudulent conduct. This still left enough signatures to certify those recalls to move forward.
Since the GAB needed more time to review the challenges to the GOP's recall petition, these new recalls will take place on July 19. The six GOP senators that were recalled will still have their election on July 12th. I explained how the recall works in another post, but I forgot to mention the difference between a primary and general election. Basically, if there's only one challenger then the July 12 and July 19th elections become general elections. One vote, winner take all. If there's more than one challenger though, the July elections become primaries and the general recall election would be Aug. 9. In the hopes of having till August to campaign, the Wisconsin GOP plans to plant fake Democratic candidates.

Wisconsin GOP Runs Fake Candidate To Waste Time:

As the video says, this little game isn't coming cheap. One estimate claims this GOP ploy will cost taxpayers more over $428,000. Those budget issues must be really important. And just to make things more interesting, it looks like this Democrats plan to run extra Democratic candidates in order to force all the election to be held in August.

Wisconsin Dem chairman Mike Tate (via):
"The unprecedented Republican manipulation of these recall elections has compelled a number of people to urge a level playing field by running fake candidates in GOP primaries.

"We cannot and will not stoop to the Republicans' level by encouraging candidates to lie about their party affiliation, or recommending that people try to deceive voters. We never have done that, and won't start now. This is something that every single one of our six challengers has said they adamantly oppose. Fred Clark, Jess King, Shelly Moore, Nancy Nusbaum, Jen Shilling and Sandy Pasch -- along with Senator Miller -- all contacted the party over the last 24 hours to make it crystal clear this was absolutely the wrong tactic.

"At the same time, these phony GOP primary candidacies have in essence allowed the Republicans to seize the ability to call these elections at a date of their choosing. They can pick and choose which sham primaries to force. That's wrong. Selecting an election day is a responsibility that should fall to an independent, nonpartisan agency looking out for the people of Wisconsin -- not to a political party gaming the system for partisan gain. This transparent GOP conspiracy has cheated the people of protections against such dirty tricks.

"That is why we must guarantee these primary and general election dates move forward. The only way to do that in the face of these deplorable Republican tactics is by ensuring Democratic primaries with placeholders.

"This approach will keep the Republicans honest - an increasingly difficult task given the stunts they've pulled. It sends a clear statement that the GOP attempts to exploit the political process won't be tolerated. It also ensures a much fairer process than what Republicans have concocted with their dirty tricks, as well as reduces confusion among voters about when recall elections will take place.

"No one likes where Republicans have taken this process. The fight for Wisconsin is too important to have one hand tied behind our back."
Even though this seems confusing and a bit ridiculous, it actually makes sense. Now voters are less likely to be confused about which elections are primaries and which are general elections. If everything works as planned the general elections will be Aug. 9 for the six Republican recalls and Aug. 16 for the three Democratic recalls.

Lastly, I also want to point out that the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently upheld the the controversial bill stripping some unions of collective bargaining rights in a 4-3 decision that overruled Judge Maryann Sumi's ruling law last month that lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Gov. Scott Walker's plan to all but end collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.

The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state's open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had struck down the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.

The majority opinion was by Justices Michael Gableman, David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. The other three justices - Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks - concurred in part and dissented in part.
Republicans had already made it pretty clear they would just re-pass the unpopular bill if the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted differently so this ruling doesn't really change anything. If anything it should fire people up and ensure the August elections are worth keeping an eye on.

Update in Wisconsin: 6 GOP Senators Recalled
Wisconsin Anti-Union Law Struck Down By Judge
How the Recall in Wisconsin Works (and an update on the effort)

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a huge clusterfuck in Wisconsin. Glad I'm not a resident of that state.


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