Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Wisconsin’s embattled elections leader is legally holding the position, judge rules

By 37ci3 Jan 13, 2024



MADISON, Wis. – A Wisconsin judge ruled Friday that the state’s top election official is legally in office and that the commission that appoints him is not obligated to appoint a new leader, handing another defeat to Republicans. tried to chase him away.

Bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission deadlocked in June Vote to appoint Meagan Wolfe as administrator of elections in the state’s presidential race. Three Republicans voted in favor of the commissioner, but three Democrats refused to block the nomination from going to the state Senate, which would have allowed Republicans there to fire him. Commission actions require a four-vote majority.

Wolff has been the subject of conspiracy theories and threats from election skeptics who falsely claimed she was part of a plot to rig the vote in favor of President Joe Biden in 2020. Biden defeated Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020, and his victory withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, an investigation by a conservative law firm, and multiple state and federal lawsuits.

The fight over who will run the state’s election agency, known as the WEC, has caused instability ahead of this year’s presidential race for more than 1,800 local Wisconsin officials who actually run the elections.

“I agree with the WEC that the public expects stability in its election system, and this order will provide stability to protect against any further removal efforts that are not legally supported,” Dane County Circuit Judge Ann Peacock said in her order Friday, saying Wolfe legally maintained his position. .

Senate Republicans voted to fire Wolfe in September, despite objections from Democrats and nonpartisan lawmakers in the Legislature, because the Senate did not have the power to vote at the time because Wolfe remained in office and was not reappointed.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul sued to challenge the vote, and in court filings, Republican legislative leaders reversed course, arguing that their votes to fire Wolfe were merely “symbolic” and had no legal effect. They also asked the judge to order the election commission to appoint an administrator for the Senate vote.

Peacock said in Friday’s ruling that Wolfe was legally serving as the election commission’s administrator because the commission was deadlocked on whether to reappoint him. The Senate’s vote to oust him had no legal effect, Peacock ruled a second time, and the commission is under no obligation to appoint a new leader while Wolfe serves as comptroller.

The judge also ruled that the legislative committee does not have the authority to appoint an interim administrator while Wolfe serves. He also ordered Republican legislative leaders not to take any action against his decision.

“I hope this will put an end to the efforts of some to target nonpartisan election officials and invent reasons to disrupt Wisconsin elections,” Wolfe said in a statement Friday afternoon. “The attempts to undermine me were especially brutal because the responsible legislators admitted in court that I remained the rightful administrator.”

Kaul said that this decision is “a brilliant victory for fair and impartial election administration and the rule of law”.

Republican legislative leaders — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu — also did not return messages.



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