Walker Orders Special Elections For Vacant Legislative Districts

01 April, 2018, 00:54 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Scott Olson  Getty Images North America

After months of delay and Republican attempts to defy court orders, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finally agreed to schedule special elections to fill vacant two state legislative seats.

In response, the GOP-controlled legislature said they would call an extraordinary session, with the aim of changing Wisconsin law determining when special elections are held, so that the races would not go forward.

"Representative government and the election of our representatives are never 'unnecessary, ' never a 'waste of taxpayer resources, ' and the calling of the special elections are. his 'obligation, '" Presiding Judge Paul F. Reilly wrote.

Walker faced a court-ordered deadline of noon on Thursday to call the special elections.

The two legislative districts in question are the First Senate District in northeastern Wisconsin and the 42nd Assembly District, located north of Madison.

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Walker's attorney with the state Department of Justice argued it makes no sense to call the special elections given that the Legislature plans to change the law to bar them from being held. But, this week, despite every effort by Scott Walker to avert the expression of the will of the people, democracy prevailed.

Democrats have sharply criticized Walker's decision not to call special elections.

The Republican Fitzgerald told WTMJ-AM on Thursday that lawmakers are "boxed in" by court rulings ordering Gov. Scott Walker to call the special elections.

The seats have been vacant since December, when Walker appointed two Republican legislators to his administration. But Michael Haas, a lawyer for the elections commission, said if Walker calls the special elections today as ordered, the election could take place as early as June 5 with nominating petitions due April 10, five days before the petitions begin circulating for the fall election. If primaries are necessary, they will be held May 15, according to the governor's office.

The commission doesn't have an estimate for how much a separate special election in January cost.

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In a rapid-fire series of decisions, an appeals court on Wednesday rejected Walker's request that it block the lower court order. The bill also would let temporary overseas voters receive absentee ballots electronically. He says that leads to disenfranchisement of military voters.

Democrats had accused Walker of refusing to call the special elections out of fear Republicans would lose the seats.

Walker might have conceded defeat and scheduled the elections, but he's not done complaining.

William Richardson, a retired UW-Madison music professor and 31-year military veteran from Middleton, said voters are suffering from "election fatigue" and that the measure should pass. Walker called the Democratic victory a "wake up call" for Republicans. Do you know how surreal it is to sit in front of you without representation? "It's demoralizing and unethical on your part". "To illustrate how ridiculous this is, nomination papers for the fall elections are due on June 1, which means candidates will already be on the November ballot before the special elections are held".

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