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State Senate votes to remove Wisconsin elections administrator

Source: Wisconsin Elections Commission

State Senate votes to remove Wisconsin elections administrator

The votes were made along party lines, with Republicans voting to fire Wolfe as the state's elections administrator.

September 14, 2023 2:09 PM CDT

By: Jimmie Kaska

MADISON, Wis. (WMDX) – The Wisconsin State Senate voted along party lines to reject Meagan Wolfe as the Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Thursday, with Republicans voting in favor of firing Wolfe.

The measure comes after Sen. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) motioned a point of order that the appointment was not legally before the Senate, which was also voted down 22-11 along party lines.

Spreitzer said on The Devil’s Advocates Radio Show Monday that because Wolfe was never nominated for reappointment, the Senate committee vote never should have been held.

Wolfe has been the center of political procedural maneuvering as Republicans have been eager to oust her from the role she’s held since before the last presidential election. The Wisconsin Elections Commission, made up of three Republicans and three Democrats, did not have four votes to reappoint Wolfe and forward her candidacy to the Senate. Democrats on the Commission said a Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling involving former Department of Natural Resources Board Chair Fred Prehn, who was encouraged by Republicans to stay in the role even after his term expired, allows officials to stay in their roles beyond the end of their terms if they don’t leave the role.

Wisconsin AG Josh Kaul said that Wolfe will remain on as the administrator for Wisconsin elections.

“Wisconsin law remains very clear that Meagan Wolfe is the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” Kaul said. “It’s clear to me that she remains in her position.”

Kaul filed a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court Thursday. You can read it here.

“This is an extreme act that we are seeing by the state Senate,” Kaul said. “I expect this will be resolved well before the next election.”

Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) said on the floor before the vote to reject Wolfe’s appointment that “We need to rebuild faith in Wisconsin’s elections.” Wisconsin Republicans have spent years trying to prove that the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin was incorrectly counted and should have been in favor of former president Donald Trump. Multiple recounts and a taxpayer-funded investigation by Republicans into the election proved those claims to be false.

Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday in a statement that the move to fire Wolfe is “a continued escalation by Wisconsin Republicans in recent years to attempt to take over Wisconsin’s elections.” Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Justice to file a lawsuit to keep Wolfe on as administrator.

“Wisconsin Republicans’ attempt to illegally fire Wisconsin’s elections administrator without cause today shows they are continuing to escalate efforts to sow distrust and disinformation about our elections, denigrate our clerks, poll workers, and election administrators, and undermine basic tenets of our democracy, including the peaceful transfer of power,” Evers said. “Just days after Republicans announced they want Legislature-picked, Legislature-approved map drawers to conduct redistricting, Republicans today demonstrated why they cannot be trusted with that important responsibility—because they will threaten, intimidate, punish, and even attempt to illegally fire anyone who stands in the way of their relentless pursuit to retain political power.”

In a Senate Resolution, legislators approved asking the Wisconsin Elections Commission to appoint an interim administrator and to nominate a permanent replacement for Wolfe. The resolution passed along party lines, 22-11.

Wolfe is expected to remain in the role while the issue plays out in court. She is holding a press conference Thursday afternoon in response to the Senate’s vote to reject her appointment.

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