NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Recall efforts well underway in Wisconsin, Democratic Party says

Heartening news from the Badger State:

In another sign that the Wisconsin GOP’s quick passage of the bill to roll back bargaining rights is only causing the fight to escalate, Dems have now collected over 45 percent of the signatures necessary to hold recall elections for eight GOP state senators, the Wisconsin Democratic Party tells me.

Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.

Recall organizers have approximately forty-five days left to finish gathering signatures. As readers here in the Pacific Northwest know, they need to collect more than the minimum required for each recall effort because not all signatures will be valid. Having a cushion is absolutely essential to a successful petition drive.

Although Wisconsin has the recall (it was introduced in 1926) the state does not have the initiative or referendum.

So petition drives there aren’t the common sight that they are here.

Washington has all three instruments of direct democracy. While our initiative process needs reform, our recall process is already pretty sound. That’s because the Legislature has created checks and balances to prevent abuse of the recall.

In Wisconsin, no justification is required to file a recall petition. Consequently, the Republican Party is attempting to recall some of the state’s Democratic senators at the same time the Democratic Party is trying to recall the Republican senators. If most of the petition drives are successful, much of the Wisconsin Senate could be up for election… in an off-year.

Article XIII of the Wisconsin State Constitution spells out the process, procedures, and timeframe for recall of elected officials. Here’s a summary of the provisions:

  • Recalls of any elected official may be launched after the official has served one year in office. Recall organizers do not have to show that the official they wish to recall has committed wrongdoing.
  • Recall attempts only move forward if enough valid signatures are collected. The minimum number is equivalent to twenty-five percent of the persons voting for governor in the last election in the jurisdiction where the elected official is serving (in this case, Senate districts).
  • If enough signatures are collected, a recall election is scheduled for the sixth week after the date of the filing of the petition.
  • If multiple candidates from the same party file for the recall election, a “recall primary” is held during the week previously mentioned.
  • The actual recall election is held four weeks after the “recall primary”, if there is one. Each party is represented by its nominees.
  • The person who receives the highest number of votes in the recall election is elected for the remainder of the term.

You can read Article XVIII’s seven provisions for yourself at the Wisconsin Legislature’s website. They’re not too difficult to understand.

Wisconsin Democrats only need to flip three seats to regain control of the state Senate and establish a bulwark against Scott Walker’s regime. If all eight of their signature drives are successful, they could lose more than half of the recall elections and still take back the state Senate.

By approving Scott Walker’s undemocratic union-busting legislation, Wisconsin’s Senate Republican caucus poured fuel on the fires of the recall efforts. They effectively declared war on working families. Now working families are fighting back.

On Friday, Dane County, the state’s second-largest local jurisdiction, filed suit to block the union-busting bill from being implemented. (See a copy of the legal filing).The judge assigned to the case refused to grant the county’s request for a temporary restraining order, or TRO, but has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday where Dane County will be able to make its case.

We’ll keep you posted on developments on the recall drives and the lawsuit.

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One Ping

  1. […] Recall efforts well underway in Wisconsin, Democratic Party says […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for March 15th, 2011 :: March 15th, 2011 at 9:37 AM