Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's plan to introduce legislation to revise special election regulations in response to the court order requiring Walker to hold two special elections is reprehensible.
Democrats sued Walker over that refusal, saying he was violating a state law requiring that special elections be called as promptly as possible for vacancies.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Wednesday the last spring and fall elections cost $235,000 and $389,000 in Senate District 1 and cost $72,000 and $122,000 in Assembly District 42.
"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.
Reilly issued his ruling hours after the Department of Justice appealed two Dane County judges' decisions on the case. A Madison judge last week ordered him to order the special elections by noon Thursday. A judge denied Walker's request, and the governor decided Wednesday not to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
The governor had refused to order elections to fill Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. The Senate is returning on April 4 to vote on a bill that would prohibit any special legislative elections this year.
Judge Reynolds ordered that Walker must call for the special elections by March 29th at noon. Spokesman Reid Magney said the commission stopped tracking costs a year ago after commissioners discontinued the practice because state law doesn't require it to do so. Though now, Vos says the legislature will change the law in order to overrule the court. Republican legislative leaders then attacked Reynolds as an "activist Dane County judge", even though she was appointed by Walker in 2014, and announced they would re-convene to pass legislation to nullify the elections. Walker argues that would make the lawsuit moot and negate the need for calling special elections.
Walker told an audience at an event Wednesday night hosted by the conservative radio station WTMJ 620 AM that he will call the special elections for June 12. He says he doesn't see a special election as necessary and says he hasn't heard any complaints from constituents.
The absentee voting bill, which had been requested by the state Elections Commission and was passed by the Assembly, is being amended to include the changes to the state's special election law to address Reynolds' ruling.
Walker went back to court to ask for more time to postpone holding the elections, but two different courts ruled he was constitutionally required to schedule them.
It also would allow special-election candidates to campaign longer and remove a requirement allowing only US citizens to act as witnesses of someone casting a military or overseas ballot.
Democrats contend Walker is dragging his feet because Republicans fear losing the seats.
The bill they unveiled Monday would alter the timelines for special elections in Wisconsin, effectively barring special elections for these districts in the process.
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