All this week, thousands of protesters have stormed the Wisconsin capitol in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) plan to cut public employee pay and weaken or eliminate state workers’ collective bargaining rights. Many of them chanted “recall Walker,” as these protesters in Madison did Tuesday:
Yet Walker, who cannot be recalled from office until next January, is not the only official who could be the subject of a recall election. Under Wisconsin election law, any elected official may be recalled from office:
(a) The qualified electors of the state, of any county, city, village, or town, of any congressional, legislative, judicial, town sanitary, or school district, or of any prosecutorial unit may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective official by filing a petition with the same official or agency with whom nomination papers or declarations of candidacy for the office are filed demanding the recall of the officeholder.
(b) Except as provided in par. (c), a petition for recall of an officer shall be signed by electors equal to at least 25% of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last election within the same district or territory as that of the officeholder being recalled. . . .
(s) No petition for recall of an officer may be offered for filing prior to the expiration of one year after commencement of the term of office for which the officer is elected.
Because the recall statute allows elected officials to serve for a full year before they are subject to recall, Walker himself is immune until January of 2012. Eight of Walker’s Republican allies in the state senate have served at least one year of their current term, however, and thus are eligible for a recall petition right now. If just three of these Republicans were to be replaced with Democrats, the state senate would flip to a Democratic-majority body.
The eight Republicans who can be recalled right now are:
- Robert Cowles
- Alberta Darling
- Sheila Harsdorf
- Luther Olsen
- Randy Hopper
- Glenn Grothman
- Mary Lazich
- Dan Kapanke
When next January rolls around, a little over 500,000 petition signatures will be necessary to trigger a recall election for Gov. Walker.
An e-mailer asks how many signatures are required to trigger a recall election for an individual senator. The exact number will vary by district according to how many people cast a vote for governor in that district, but if you divide the approximately 500,000 signatures needed to recall Walker by the 33 senate districts, it adds up to between 15,000–16,000 signatures per senator.