Wisconsin Secretary of State

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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 Douglas Lafollette.


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. The governor must be a United States citizen and qualified elector in Wisconsin. (Wisconsin Constitution, Article V § 2)


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.


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. Keep a record of the official acts of the executive department and, when required, lay the same and all matters relative thereto before either house of the legislature.[3]
  2. Affix great seal; register commissions. Affix the great seal to and countersign all commissions issued and other official acts done by the governor, the governor's approbation of the laws excepted; and make a register of such commissions in a book provided by the governor therefor, specifying the person to whom issued, the office conferred, and the date and term of the commission.[3]
  3. Have custody of books, records, etc. Have the custody of all books, records, deeds, bonds, parchments, maps, papers and other articles and effects belonging to the state, deposited or kept in the secretary of state's office, and make such provision for the arrangement and preservation thereof as is necessary, and keep the same, together with all accounts and transactions of the office open at all times to the inspection and examination of the governor or any committee of either or both houses of the legislature.[3]
  4. Biennial report. Report biennially in accordance with s. 15.04 (1) (d) all matters pertaining to the office and, when required, furnish the governor or either house of the legislature, in writing, any information relative to the performance of the duties of the office.[3]
  5. Keep enrolled laws, etc. Safely keep all enrolled laws and resolutions, and not permit any of them to be taken out of the secretary of state's office or inspected except in the presence of the secretary of state, unless by order of the governor or by resolution of one or both houses of the legislature. For any violation of this subsection the secretary of state shall forfeit the sum of $100.[3]
  6. Compile original laws and resolutions. Cause the original laws enacted and joint resolutions adopted at each session of the legislature, together with the index containing the titles of the same, to be bound in suitable volumes in a substantial manner, and in the order in which they are enacted or adopted, with the title thereof and the session at which they are enacted or adopted to be written or printed on the spine of the volumes.[3]
  7. Record fees. Keep a record of all fees received by the office and include a summary of such record in the biennial report under s. 15.04 (1) (d).[3]
  8. Furnish certified copies; fees. Make a copy of any law, resolution, deed, bond, record, document or paper deposited or kept in his or her office, upon request therefor, attach thereto his or her certificate, with the greater or lesser seal affixed, and collect therefor 50 cents per page and $5 for such certificate; if a copy is not to be certified and if the reproduction is performed by the office of the secretary of state, then collect a fee to cover the actual and necessary cost of reproduction and actual and necessary cost of transcription required to produce the copy or $2, whichever is greater; also to record any document authorized or required by law to be recorded in his or her office, and to charge therefor a fee of $1 per page. The fee for certified copies and for certificates as to results of searches of the records and files of his or her office, when a printed form is used, shall be $5, but when a specially prepared form is required the fee shall be $10. Telegraphic reports as to results of record searches shall be $5 plus the cost of the telegram. The secretary of state shall charge and collect for preparing any record or certificate under this subsection in an expeditious manner, an expedited service fee of $25 in addition to the fee otherwise required under this subsection.[3]
  9. Signatures. Receive and file the signature and an impression of the official seal or rubber stamp of all county clerks and registers of deeds, and upon request certify to the authenticity of that signature and official seal or rubber stamp and charge therefor the statutory fee.[3]

Divisions of the office


In 2010, the Wisconsin Attorney General was paid an estimated $65,079 according to the Council of State Governments.[4]

Former officeholders

Contact Information


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

See also

External links