Wisconsin Republicans admit vote to fire elections chief had no legal effect

Oct 16, 2023, 1:55 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Wisconsin lawmakers working to oust the state’s nonpartisan top elections official have admitted that a state Senate vote to fire her last month has no legal effect.

In a change of course from recent calls to impeach Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature said in court documents filed Friday that the vote on Sept. 14 to fire her “was symbolic and meant to signal disapproval of Administrator Wolfe’s performance.”

Wolfe has been lawfully holding over in office since her term expired on July 1, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, Senate President Chris Kapenga and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos admitted.

Wolfe declined to comment on Monday.

“I’m glad they have finally acknowledged these realities, though it’s a shame it took the filing of litigation to get to this point,” Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who brought the lawsuit challenging the Senate’s vote, said in a statement Monday.

But Republicans aren’t done with trying to force a vote on firing Wolfe.

LeMahieu, Kapenga and Vos shifted their legal arguments to the three Democratic commissioners who abstained in June from voting on Wolfe’s reappointment in order to force a deadlock on the bipartisan, six-person elections commission. Without a four-vote majority to reappoint Wolfe, her nomination could not proceed to the Senate.

Republicans argue that state law requires the commission to make an appointment, and GOP leaders asked a judge to order the elections commission to do so immediately. The next hearing in the lawsuit is set for Oct. 30.

The Senate is also moving toward rejecting confirmation for one of the Democratic elections commissioners who abstained from voting on Wolfe’s reappointment. A confirmation vote on Commissioner Joseph Czarnezki was set for Tuesday.

The fight over who will oversee elections in the presidential battleground state has caused instability ahead of the 2024 presidential race for Wisconsin’s more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections. The issues Republicans have taken with Wolfe are centered around how she administered the 2020 presidential election, and many are based in lies spread by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

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


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

FILE - Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor poses for a photo in 1982. O'Connor who ...

Associated Press

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Dec. 18

WASHINGTON (AP) — Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Dec. 18, with a funeral service at the National Cathedral the following day, the court said Monday. The first woman on the Supreme Court, O’Connor died Friday at age 93 in Phoenix. She stepped down from the court […]

27 minutes ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidates from left, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former ...

Associated Press

How to watch the fourth Republican presidential debate and what to look for

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The number of candidates on stage is shrinking, but the fundamentals of Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate may be familiar to anyone who has watched the previous three meetings. No one has yet emerged as the clear Republican alternative to former President Donald Trump, whose lead is so big that he has […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

US makes offer to bring home jailed Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Russia rejected it

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has made a new and significant offer aimed at securing the release of American detainees Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, but Russia has rejected the offer, the State Department said Tuesday. Spokesman Matthew Miller did not reveal the details of the offer nor why Russia had turned it down, […]

2 hours ago

Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for his domestic assault trial, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Ne...

Associated Press

Jonathan Majors’ accuser said actor’s “violent temper” left her fearful before alleged assault

NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan Majors’ former girlfriend told a Manhattan jury that the actor was prone to fits of rage that escalated in the months leading up to his arrest for allegedly attacking her in the backseat of a car last spring. During hours of tearful testimony on Tuesday, Grace Jabbari described Majors as […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Atmospheric river brings heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An atmospheric river has brought heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, closing roadways and schools as it shattered daily rainfall and temperature records in Washington state. The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued flood warnings in parts of western Washington, including in areas north and east […]

3 hours ago

This undated family photo shows David Schultz with his two sons. Schultz’s semi-truck was found t...

Associated Press

Midwest mystery: Iowa man still missing, 2 weeks after semi holding baby pigs was found on highway

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — David Schultz’s semi-truck was found two weeks ago on a rural highway in northwest Iowa, its trailer still filled with baby pigs he was transporting. Schultz’s wallet and phone were inside, and his jacket was on the side of the road. But Schultz was nowhere to be found, and his […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Wisconsin Republicans admit vote to fire elections chief had no legal effect