As our state elections agency navigates uncharted territory in the recall of nine state senators, the problems and delays point to this: Voters should be more engaged in regular elections.
Had that happened in the previous cycle — when voters last fall put Republicans in charge of both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office — it is likely the outcome would have resulted in far fewer demands placed on the system. Instead, the elections agency is overburdened and lawmakers facing recalls must spend more time defending their position than legislating.
So far the state Government Accountability Board has moved forward on recall elections for six Republican senators, including Rob Cowles of Allouez. However, as of Wednesday, none of the petitions had been certified and no elections officially had been ordered. The board announced Friday it would delay considering petitions against the three Democratic senators facing recall attempts, including Dave Hansen of Green Bay, because election staff require more time to review Democratic challenges to the petitions.
Despite the understandable bumps in the road in this unprecedented recall of six GOP and three Democratic lawmakers, the process is a valuable one and voters have a right to pursue it under state law. Petitioning is part of the democratic process on which we rely, though it’s obviously fraught with potential entanglements with this many simultaneous petitions.
… It’s unfortunate that in all the delays and challenges, accusations have been leveled against the top election official, Kevin Kennedy, for allegedly favoring Democrats. GOP supporters have said it is unfair to move forward in filing petitions against Republicans while taking more time to review Democratic challenges.
Reid Magney, spokesman for the board, said Tuesday the nonpartisan board has made decisions in the recall process “based solely on workload.” Magney added that although petitions against Cowles were filed last, Cowles did not challenge any signatures and instead made a legal argument that the whole petition should be thrown out — an argument that already had been dismissed by the board in previous challenges.