UNITED STATES NEWS

Wisconsin Senate to vote on firing state’s nonpartisan top elections official

Sep 13, 2023, 9:07 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate was set to vote Thursday on firing the battleground state’s top elections official — a move that was denounced by Democrats as illegitimate and is expected to draw a legal battle.

Nonpartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe has been the subject of conspiracy theories and threats from election skeptics who falsely claim she was part of a plan to rig the 2020 vote in Wisconsin. GOP leaders have vowed to oust her before the 2024 presidential election.

Election observers have voiced concerns that replacing Wolfe with a less experienced administrator or continuing to dispute her position could create greater instability in a high-stakes presidential race where election workers expect to face unrelenting pressure, harassment and threats.

The bipartisan elections commission deadlocked in June on a vote to nominate Wolfe for a second four-year term. Three Republicans voted to nominate her and three Democrats abstained in the hopes of preventing a nomination from proceeding to the Senate for confirmation.

Senate rejection would carry the effect of firing her, but without a four-vote majority nominating Wolfe, a recent state Supreme Court ruling appears to allow her to stay in office indefinitely as a holdover.

Senate Republicans pushed ahead regardless, with Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu saying he interpreted the commission’s 3-0 vote as a unanimous nomination. The Legislature’s nonpartisan attorneys and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul have both contested that interpretation, saying the law is clear that an elections administrator must be nominated by at least four commissioners.

Wolfe did not attend a Senate committee hearing on her reappointment last month, citing a letter from Kaul saying “there is no question” that she remains head of the elections agency. That hearing instead became a platform for some of the most prominent members of Wisconsin’s election denialism movement to repeat widely debunked claims about the 2020 election.

The Republican-led elections committee voted Monday to recommend firing Wolfe.

Biden defeated Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020, an outcome that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a conservative law firm’s review and numerous state and federal lawsuits.

Many Republican grievances against Wolfe are over decisions made by the elections commission and carried out by Wolfe, as she is bound by law to do. In addition to carrying out the decisions of the elections commission, Wolfe helps guide Wisconsin’s more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections.

Wolfe became head of the elections commission in 2018, after Senate Republicans rejected her predecessor, Michael Haas, because he had worked for the Government Accountability Board. GOP lawmakers disbanded the agency, which was the elections commission’s predecessor, in 2015 after it investigated whether former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign illegally worked with outside groups.

Since the 2020 election, some Republicans have floated the idea of abolishing or overhauling the elections commission.

Wolfe has worked at the elections commission and the accountability board for more than 10 years. She has also served as president of the National Association of State Election Directors and chair of the bipartisan Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which helps states maintain accurate voter rolls.

___

Harm Venhuizen is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

United States News

Associated Press

Arrests follow barricades and encampments as college students nationwide protest Gaza war

NEW YORK (AP) — Standoffs between pro-Palestinian student protesters and universities grew increasingly tense on both coasts Wednesday as hundreds encamped at Columbia University faced a deadline from the administration to clear out while dozens remained barricaded inside two buildings on a Northern California college campus. Both are part of intensifying demonstrations over schools cut […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

What to listen for during Supreme Court arguments on Donald Trump and presidential immunity

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court hears arguments Thursday over whether Donald Trump is immune from prosecution in a case charging him with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It’s a historic day for the court, with the justices having an opportunity to decide once and for all whether former presidents […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

USPS commits to rerouting Reno-area mail despite bipartisan pushback and mail ballot concerns

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The USPS announced on Tuesday it will follow through with its plan to reroute Reno-area mail processing to Sacramento, a move that drew bipartisan ire from Nevada lawmakers while raising questions about the rate at which mail ballots can be processed in a populous part of a crucial swing state. Postmaster […]

5 hours ago

The American and Ukrainian flags wave in the wind outside of the Capitol on Tuesday, April 23, 2024...

Associated Press

Senate overwhelmingly passes aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with big bipartisan vote

The Senate has passed $95 billion in war aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending the legislation to Biden after months of delays.

5 hours ago

The logo for the Tesla Supercharger station is seen in Buford, Ga, April 22, 2021. Faced with falli...

Associated Press

Tesla 1Q profit falls 55%, but stock jumps as company moves to speed production of cheaper vehicles

Tesla’s stock price surged in after-hours trading Tuesday as the company said it would prioritize production of more affordable vehicles.

6 hours ago

Pages from the United Healthcare website are displayed on a computer screen, Feb. 29, 2024, in New ...

Associated Press

UnitedHealth says wide swath of patient files may have been taken in Change cyberattack

The company said after markets closed that it sees no signs that doctor charts or full medical histories were released after the attack.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Wisconsin Senate to vote on firing state’s nonpartisan top elections official