Wisconsin Secretary of State

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Wisconsin Secretary of State
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $513,600
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Wisconsin State Code, Chapter 14.36
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Doug LaFollette.jpg
Name:  Douglas La Follette
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  1983
Compensation:  $68,566
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other Wisconsin Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Wisconsin Secretary of State is an elected executive official in the Wisconsin state government. The secretary keeps a record of all official acts of the legislature and executive department of the state.

Current officeholder

The current secretary of state is Democrat Douglas La Follette.


The secretary of state's office is authorized by Chapter 14.36 of the Wisconsin state code.[1]

Chapter 14.36:

Office of secretary of state; creation. There is created an office of the secretary of state under the direction and supervision of the secretary of state.


While the Wisconsin Constitution does not specify the qualification for the Office of Secretary of State, the secretary is second in line of succession to the governorship. Under Article 5 of the state constitution, the governor must be a United States citizen and qualified elector in Wisconsin.


Chapter 17.19(4) of the Wisconsin state code addresses vacancies in the office of secretary of state. In the event of a vacancy for any reason, the governor shall appoint a successor to serve until a special election can be held. If no such election is held, the appointee holds office for the remainder of the unexpired term. [2]


Article 6 of the state constitution requires the secretary of state to keep a fair record of the official acts of the legislature and executive department of the state.

The specific duties of the attorney general are outlined in Chapter 14.38 of the Wisconsin state code.

Chapter 14.38 - Duties. The secretary of state shall:

  1. Record executive acts.
  2. Affix great seal; register commissions.
  3. Have custody of books, records, etc.
  4. Biennial report.
  5. Keep enrolled laws, etc.
  6. Compile original laws and resolutions.
  7. Record fees.
  8. Furnish certified copies; fees.
  9. Notices of proposed constitutional amendments and enactments.[3]


Wisconsin state government organizational chart

According to Article 6 of the state constitution, the secretary of state is elected every four years, in mid-term election years, to a four-year term. In Wisconsin, the secretary of state is elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Full history


See also: Wisconsin secretary of state election, 2014

Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette won re-election on November 4, 2014.

Secretary of State of Wisconsin, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDoug La Follette Incumbent 50% 1,161,113
     Republican Julian Bradley 46.3% 1,074,835
     Libertarian Andy Craig 2.5% 58,996
     Constitution Jerry Broitzman 1.1% 25,744
     Nonpartisan Scattering 0.1% 1,347
Total Votes 2,322,035
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.


There are two divisions within the Office of the Secretary of State:

  • Government Records Division
  • Administrative Services Division

State budget

See also: Wisconsin state budget and finances

The budget for the Secretary of State's Office in Fiscal Year 2014 was $508,600.[4]

In the 2015/2017 state budget, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a 50 percent staff reduction to the Office of the Secretary of State. The governor intends to cut the office's full-time aides from three to one, as well as to move the secretary's office to the basement of the capital, saving a total of $490,000 dollars over the two-year proposed budget.[5] Secretary La Follette wrote an open letter to Governor Walker expressing his concern for the proposed budget cuts, stating that the cuts would render it “impossible to maintain quality service to the public, especially in the event of employee illness, vacation or other leave."[6]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 20, Section 923 of the Wisconsin Statutes

The secretary of state's annual salary is fixed by law, pursuant to Article IV, Section 26 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which states that "the compensation of a public officer may not be increased or diminished during the term of office."

Since the 2003 approval of Wisconsin Act 33, the secretary of state's compensation has been set by the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations (OSER), in accordance with Section 20.923 of the Wisconsin Statutes.[7] Under the amended version of §20.923, the director of OSER submits biennial proposals for adjustments to compensation plan to the Wisconsin Legislature. Changes are subject to approval by the legislature's joint committee on employment relations and, if passed by the committee, the governor, although his veto power is limited. Effective for the four-year term beginning January 2015, the secretary of state's salary was raised 2 percent over the prior term.[8]


In 2014, the secretary received a salary of $68,566, according to the Council of State Governments.[9]


In 2013, the secretary's salary remained at $68,566.[10]


In 2012, the secretary received a salary of $68,566, according to the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

There have been 31 Wisconsin Secretaries of State since 1848. Of the 31 officeholders, 20 were Republican, 10 were Democrat and one was Progressive.[11]

List of Former Officeholders from 1848-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Thomas McHugh 1848-1850 Electiondot.png Democratic
2 William A. Barstow 1850-1852 Electiondot.png Democratic
3 Charles D. Robinson 1852-1854 Electiondot.png Democratic
4 Alexander T. Gray 1854-1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
5 David W. Jones 1856-1860 Electiondot.png Democratic
6 Lewis P. Harvey 1860-1862 Ends.png Republican
7 James T. Lewis 1862-1864 Ends.png Republican
8 Lucius Fairchild 1864-1866 Ends.png Republican
9 Thomas S. Allen 1866-1870 Ends.png Republican
10 Llywelyn Breese 1870-1874 Ends.png Republican
11 Peter Doyle 1874-1878 Electiondot.png Democratic
12 Hans B. Warner 1878-1882 Ends.png Republican
13 Ernst G. Timme 1882-1891 Ends.png Republican
14 Thomas J. Cunningham 1891-1895 Electiondot.png Democratic
15 Henry Casson 1895-1899 Ends.png Republican
16 William H. Froehlich 1899-1903 Ends.png Republican
17 Walter L. Houser 1903-1907 Ends.png Republican
18 James A. Frear 1907-1913 Ends.png Republican
19 John S. Donald 1913-1917 Ends.png Republican
20 Merlin Hull 1917-1921 Ends.png Republican
21 Elmer S. Hall 1921-1923 Ends.png Republican
22 Fred R. Zimmerman 1923-1927 Ends.png Republican
23 Theodore Dammann 1927-1935 Ends.png Republican
24 Theodore Dammann 1935-1939 Progressive
25 Fred R. Zimmerman 1939-1954 Ends.png Republican
26 Louis Allis 1954-1955 Ends.png Republican
27 Mrs. Glenn M. Wise 1955-1957 Ends.png Republican
28 Robert C. Zimmerman 1957-1975 Ends.png Republican
29 Douglas J. La Follette 1975-1979 Electiondot.png Democratic
30 Mrs. Vel R. Phillips 1979-1983 Electiondot.png Democratic
31 Douglas La Follette 1983-present Electiondot.png Democratic

State profile

Wisconsin's population in 2013 was 5,742,713.

Wisconsin's population in 2013 was 5,742,713 according to the United States Census Bureau. This estimate represented a 1 percent change from the bureau's 2010 estimate. The state's population per square mile was 105 in 2010, exceeding the national average of 87.4. Wisconsin experienced a 1.5 percent increase in total employment from 2011 to 2012 based on census data, falling below a 2.2 percent increase at the national level during the same period.[12]


Wisconsin fell below the national average for residents who attained at least bachelor's degrees based on census data from 2009 to 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 26.8 percent of Wisconsin residents aged 25 years and older attained bachelor's degrees compared to 28.8 percent at the national level. The median household income in Wisconsin was $52,413 between 2009 and 2013 compared to a $53,046 national median income. Census information showed a 13.5 percent poverty rate in Wisconsin during the study period compared to a 14.5 percent national poverty rate.[12]

Racial Demographics, 2013[12]
Race Wisconsin (%) United States (%)
White 88.1 77.7
Black or African American 6.5 13.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.1 1.2
Asian 2.5 5.3
Two or More Races 1.7 2.4
Hispanic or Latino 6.3 17.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, 2000-2012[13][14]
Year Democratic vote in Wisconsin (%) Republican vote in Wisconsin (%) Democratic vote in U.S. (%) Republican vote in U.S. (%)
2012 52.8 45.9 51.1 47.2
2008 56.2 42.3 52.9 45.7
2004 49.7 49.3 48.3 50.7
2000 47.8 47.6 48.4 47.9

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[15]

Recent news

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Wisconsin Secretary of State - Google News Feed

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Contact information


Wisconsin Secretary of State
30 W. Mifflin, 10th Floor
Madison, WI 53703

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 7848
Madison, WI 53707-7848

Phone: (608) 266-8888 (ext 2)
Fax: (608) 266-3159
E-mail: statesec@sos.state.wi.us

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 14: Constitutional Offices and Interstate Bodies (page 6)," accessed August 25, 2011
  2. Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 17: Resignations, vacancies, and removals from office (page 7)," accessed August 25, 2011
  3. Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 14: Constitutional Offices and Interstate Bodies (page 6)," accessed August 25, 2011
  4. Wisconsin Department of Administration, "2013-15 Executive Budget - Office of the Secretary of State," accessed April 3, 2013
  5. Fox 11 Online, "Longtime Secretary of State opposes proposed budget cut to his office," February 17, 2015
  6. MacIver Institute, "As responsibilities dwindle, does Wisconsin need a Secretary of State?" February 27, 2015
  7. Wisconsin State Legislature, "Wisconsin Statutes: 20.923(2)(a)," accessed February 25, 2015
  8. Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Briefs from the Legislative Reference Bureau: SALARIES OF STATE ELECTED OFFICIALS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2015," updated January 2015
  9. Council of State Governments, "SELECTED STATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS: ANNUAL SALARIES," accessed December 8, 2014
  10. Council of State Governments, Table 4.11 Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries," accessed January 31, 2014
  11. Wisconsin Blue Book 2007-2008, "Statistical Information on Wisconsin: History," accessed August 5, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 United States Census Bureau, "QuickFacts Beta," accessed March 24, 2015
  13. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Wisconsin Election Results," accessed March 24, 2015
  14. The American Presidency Project, "Presidential Elections Data," accessed March 24, 2015
  15. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014