Laws governing recall in Wisconsin
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- 1 Who may be recalled?
- 2 Procedures
- 3 Contact information
- 4 State senator recalls, 2011
- 5 External links
- 6 References
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.
Specifically, the right of recall extends to all statewide executive officers, including the Governor of Wisconsin, the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Treasurer, the Attorney General of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Secretary of State, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, and all members of the Wisconsin State Senate and the Wisconsin State Assembly.
In terms of local elected positions, the right of recall extends to incumbent elected officials of any city, village, town, town sanitary district, or school district in the state.
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.
According to §9.1 0(6), Wis. Stats., if an elected official is targeted for recall, a recall election is held, and the incumbent retains his or her seat, that incumbent officeholder cannot be targeted again for recall during the term of office in which the unsuccessful recall attempt took place.
Who can initiate?
The person who files a recall petition is referred to as the "petitioner" for that particular recall effort.
To be a recall petitioner, that person must be a "qualified elector of the election district from which the officeholder was elected."
In Wisconsin, a "qualified elector" is someone who:
- Is a citizen of the United States
- Is 18 years of age or older
- Has resided in the district or jurisdiction where the recall is sought for at least 10 days.
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. This intent is indicated on a form called the Statement of Intent to Circulate 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.
Form of the petition
- Each sheet of paper that is circulated for the purposes of collecting signatures for the recall must have "on its face, at the top, in bold print" the words: RECALL PETITION.
- The name of the targeted incumbent officeholder must be identified on the petition.
- Only one officeholder can be named on a recall petition. If recall organizers are simultaneously targeting more than one incumbent, entirely separate recall petition sheets must be circulated for each such targeted incumbent.
On each petition sheet, there must be a space for qualified electors to:
- Sign their name
- List their municipality of residence, along with the post office address, including street and number, if any, or rural route. According to regulations, the address must be complete and it must clearly show that the signer resides in the district or jurisdiction represented by the targeted incumbent officeholder.
- List the date that the person signed the petition.
Each separate petition sheet of a recall petition must contain a completed statement that is known as a Certification of Circulator.
Number of required signatures
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.
Anyone who wants to circulate a recall petition is allowed to request from the appropriate filing officer the exact number of signatures required in the relevant political jurisdiction. When a filing officer receives such a request, they are required to make that determination and provide it to the person who requested the information.
Dates of signatures
When a person signs a recall petition, in order for the signature to count as valid, the person must put on the petition sheet the date that they signed the petition. In order for a signature to count as valid, the dates of signing must:
- Be within 60 days from the date the recall petitioner registered with the filing officer.
• Not be later than the date of the circulator's signature in the Certification of Circulator.
Time allowed to collect signatures
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.
After the signatures are obtained, a certification must be completed by the circulator.
The circulator must:
- List his or her full address, including municipality of residence, and street and number, if any, or rural route.
- Sign and date the certification after they have obtained the signatures.
- Have personally circulated the petition and personally obtained each of the signatures on the paper.
- State that he or she is aware that falsifying the certification is illegal.
Review of petition
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.
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
- 212 East Washington Avenue, Third Floor
- Madison, Wisconsin 53703
- Phone: 608.266.8005
State senator recalls, 2011
- Government Accountability Board information on Wisconsin recalls
- Recall manual of Congressional, County and State Officials published in June 2009 by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
- Chapter 9, Wisconsin Statutes, on "Post-Election Actions; Direct Legislation
- National Conference of State Legislatures, Statewide Recall
- Wisconsin Voter Data Request Form
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