Wisconsin Elections Commission Rejects Another Petition to Recall Speaker Vos

Commissioners took issue with signatures gathered more than 60 days after the Statement of Intent was filed.

The agency charged with regulating elections in a key battleground state has rebuffed the latest effort to recall Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

The vote on June 27 was 4 to 2. Commissioner Carrie Riepl, a Democratic Party appointee, sided with the three Republican Party appointees, Commissioners Marge Bostelmann, Robert Spindell, and Don Millis, to reject a recall petition for Speaker Vos.

The two other commissioners elevated by the Democratic Party, Chair Amy Jacobs and Mark Thomsen, were in opposition.

The vote came one day before a deadline on the matter. Commission staff materials suggest the recall would have been held on Aug. 6, in the run-up to the presidential election and just weeks after the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The recall attempt was led by Matthew Snorek, who filed a previous petition against Speaker Vos that failed before the same body earlier this year.

“The Wisconsin Elections Commission has silenced Racine County!” the Racine Recall Committee wrote on Facebook after the vote.

Yet, other Wisconsin conservatives and Republicans have strongly disagreed.As in so many election-related disagreements, the decision hinged on signatures and dates.

Specifically, the four commissioners took issue with signatures gathered after May 26, 2024, more than 60 days after the Statement of Intent was filed in late March.

Under Wisconsin law, the petition itself would normally need to have been filed by 5 p.m. on May 26.

“No signature may be counted unless the date of the signature is within the period provided in this paragraph,” Statute 9.10(2)(d) states.

But May 26 was a Sunday, and the following day, May 27, was Memorial Day—a holiday. The petition was thus filed on May 28, in line with other Wisconsin law.

Attorney Matthew Fernholz, who led the challenge to the recall petition on behalf of Speaker Vos, argued that signatures from May 27 and May 28 were illegal. He cited Wisconsin statutes along with the Commission’s own manual for recall elections.

That was one of numerous arguments from Mr. Fernholz, including on the vexed question of where the signatures had to be collected—Assembly District 63, where Mr. Vos was elected, or Assembly District 33, where Mr. Fernholz argued Mr. Vos would need to be recalled under new maps that went into effect in February. His challenge asserted that not enough signatures had been gathered in the new territory.

The staff attorney for the Commission, Brandon Hunzicker, counted signatures in both districts.

After striking 2,009 signatures from Mr. Snorek’s original total, he calculated that the petition fell well short of what was required in the 33rd but just barely exceeded the threshold in the 63rd. 6,866 signatures were deemed valid in the latter district, where 6,850 signatures were necessary to be sufficient.

Mr. Hunzicker recommended rejecting the challenge to signatures from May 27 and May 28, arguing, among other things, that his agency’s own manual was incorrect.

But a majority of commissioners ultimately opted to exclude those signatures, eliminating the narrow band of staff-calculated signatures over the threshold in the 63rd.

Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic Party appointee, contended that the dispute over signature timing amounted to a “technicality” and said that a decision against the petition would offer a pass to “the most powerful person in the Assembly.”

Mr. Millis argued that the 60-day window for collecting petitions was straightforward. He said his own “heavily deadline-driven” tax law practice had familiarized him with the relevant law.


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