Laws governing recall in Wisconsin

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The citizens of Wisconsin are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Section 12 of Article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution. This article was added to the Wisconsin Constitution in 1926; it was amended in April 1981.

§§9.1 0(1) and (3), Wis. Stats. are the statutory expression of how recall campaigns are to be conducted in Wisconsin.

Who may be recalled

The right of recall in Wisconsin extends to all elective offices in the state, but only after the elected official has served a full year in his or her current term of office.

Wisconsin is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, but it hasn't been clear whether federal courts would allow states to actually recall their federal politicians.[1]


Recall committee registration

Before circulating a petition for recall, someone who wishes to sponsor a recall effort must register his or her intent to do so with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. This includes a Campaign Registration Statement along with a second statement indicating:

  • The petitioner's intent to circulate a recall petition,
  • The name of the officeholder for whom recall is sought, and
  • The reason for the recall, which must be related to the official responsibilities of the officeholder.

Signature requirements

The number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 25% of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of governor within the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled. Each signer must be a qualified voter within the district represented by the officeholder being recalled, and the address of each signer must be located within that district.

Circulation of petition

Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 60 days after registration. The completed petition must be returned to the original filing officer no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 60th day from the date of registration. Any signature dated before this 60 day period is invalid.

Preparation and Circulation of Recall Petitions

After the signatures are obtained the certification must be completed by the circulator. Specific requirements of the circulator are:

  • The circulator must list his or her full address, including municipality of residence, and street and number, if any, or rural route.
  • The circulator must sign and date the certification after they have obtained the signatures.
  • The person signing as circulator must have personally circulated the petition and personally obtained each of the signatures on the paper.
  • The circulator must state that he or she is aware that falsifying the certification is illegal.

Review of Petition by Filing Officer

Within 31 days after the petition (with signatures) is submitted to the filing officer, he or she has 31 days to determine the sufficiency of the petition and also that it meets all necessary requirements. Following this review, the filing officer must attach to the petition either a certificate of sufficiency or of insufficiency, allowing at least 10 days for the officeholder being recalled to file any challenge.

If the petition is considered sufficient, the filing officer will submit it to the appropriate local governing body, which will then immediately call a recall election to be held on the Tuesday of the 6th week after the date on which the clerk issued the certificate of sufficiency.

Contact Information

Wisconsin State Elections Board
17 West Main Street, Suite 310
PO Box 2973
Madison, WI 53701-2973
Phone: 608.266.8005

External links


  1. Big Government, "The Right of Recall", February 9, 2010