Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Next Republican Election 'Reform' In Wisconsin May Be 'Reforming' The Election Board Itself

Having already tipped the scales its way with a voter suppression law aimed at limiting voting in central cities and on campuses (read: Democratic votes), Wisconsin Republicans, peeved at the way the state Government Accountability Board, (GAB), is processing some State Senate recall petitions, could move in the legislature to punish it by changing its makeup or cutting its funding.



But it wouldn't surprise me because this has been the GOP approach to government since taking absolute power in Madison on Jan. 3rd.

The GAB - - a merged agency comprised of the former and separate state elections and ethics boards - -  is run by a non-partisan group of six retired judges selected by a panel of Appeals Court judges, nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. [This sentence includes a correction that clarifies the nomination, selection and confirmation process.]

I wouldn't put it past Walker or this legislature to put the GAB further under more direct political control.

Among the best examples of the GOP's power-grabbing approach, along with blowing up collective bargaining for most public employees statewide  - Walker, legislators and special interests working to remake the structure of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, block its phosphorus pollution rules, suspend its wind turbine siting regulations, ease wetlands fillings and arbitrarily limit the time and scope of mining permitting - - all to satisfy one set of players - - business interests.

Who generally support Walker and Republican legislators come campaign-time.

The legislature also gave Walker the power to review and reject all state agency rules - - eliminating the Legislature's rule-making role and public committee hearings that had been part of the process.

So changing or politicizing the structure of an agency or a procedure to remove elements of fairness or public interest means nothing to these ideological partisans.


John P said...


You do not find it troubling that the board would approve all 6 recall elections against the Republicans but delay the ones against the Democrats?

Even if there is no politics involved here, the appearance is bad.

James Rowen said...

As I read the story, it appears challenges by Dems against petitions filed in support of recalls of their members by Republicans are delaying the certification process.

Better lawyering by the Dems? More complex or novel litigation?

I'm not sure. It appears to me that the board first dealt with challenges that were more typical, then is going back to deal with the different argument presented by the Dems.

The delay is probably not partisan in favor of the Dems, and it does not look lengthy, but anyone can inflate an appearance into a cause celebre.

JB said...

The challenges by the Democrats were based on the signature-collection techniques of the Republicans, especially against Hansen and Holperin. The companies hired by the Republicans to collect signatures were questionable.

Given all that the GAB has been handling lately, this looks less like delay than like trying to manage workload in a reasonable way.

Mitch said...

I haven't followed this as closely as might have, but I get the impression that the objections to the Republican recalls were basically frivolous, and easily dismissed, while the Democrats have serious grounds for challenging the recalls against their Senators.

The Democrats ran their petition drives with lots of volunteers and competent organizers. They might have made some mistakes, but most of the problems were technicalities.

The Republican recall drives against the Democrats were largely run by an out-of-state organization that hired out-of-state felons, among others, to circulate petitions. The Democrats checked their signatures and found lots of problems. The "signature" of Mark Pocan's deceased father was one red flag among many.

So the Democrats' challenges are harder to dismiss, and may eventually be upheld. I don't see any bad appearance, except for the Republicans who botched their recall drives.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

"You do not find it troubling that the board would approve all 6 recall elections against the Republicans but delay the ones against the Democrats? "

Given that one group used local volunteers that seriously vetted the ones who signed the petitions vs. the other group hiring folks from out of state that offered "shots for signatures" and forged the name of a legislator's dead father (among others)? No, not really.

That's what happen when one side cheats and the other doesn't. Same for sketchy vote-counters on election night. That "equivalency" BS don't fly here.