Assembly Speaker Robin Vos plans to proceed quickly with a wide-ranging election reform bill despite objections from the state elections board. “Our main message to the committee today is please slow down,” said Michael Haas, elections director for the Government Accountability Board. “The legislation addresses some significant policy areas of election and campaign finance…that would benefit from more vetting.” But Vos, a Rochester Republican, said quick passage is necessary to enact election safeguards and properly train poll workers before the next election in spring 2014. “We adjourn on June 30, so it is my intention to get a bill passed by June 30,” Vos said, referring to the end of the Assembly’s floor period. He said he is happy to discuss components of the bill in a bipartisan fashion but stressed the need for additional safeguards in election law.
The bill would make it harder to recall local officials, tweak the state’s stalled voter ID law and put new restrictions on when voters can cast ballots in clerks’ offices in the weeks before an election.
Vos’ timeline was challenged by Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee).
“We would have ample time to address this in the fall, would we not?” he said. “I’m a little concerned about the fast-tracking of this bill.”
The bill by Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) received a public hearing Tuesday before the Assembly Campaign and Elections Committee. A committee vote is expected soon, which would clear the way for Assembly action this month.
The Senate has not said whether or when it might take up the bill. Both houses are controlled by Republicans.
If the measure passes and is signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker, recall elections for municipal and school officials would require more than just a specific number of signatures. To be recalled, an official would have to have been charged with a crime or accused of violating ethics rules.