The Government Accountability Board (GAB), the state agency that oversees elections, recently estimated that a statewide recall election would cost state and local governments at least $9 million, with higher costs possible depending on a number of factors. The ongoing recall effort against the Governor and Lieutenant Governor would represent the first statewide recall elections in Wisconsin’s history. The costs of additional recall elections are adding to the significant budget challenges facing local governments.
GAB identified potential costs to counties would be $2.3 million, with municipal governments facing costs of $5.8 million, according to a survey of local governments. These numbers do not reflect the potential for a Democratic primary or additional recall efforts against four Senators, which may be held on other dates. If those elections occur the costs to municipal and county governments could be higher. These efforts come after the unprecedented recall elections this past summer, which cost local governments and the state $2.1 million dollars.
The never-ending election cycle we find ourselves in has been driven by special interests and activists that insist on election after election until their desired result is obtained. In response to the concerns that the recall process is being abused for political agendas, legislation has been drafted to address the increasing number of recalls. Assembly Joint Resolution 63 (AJR 63) seeks to make changes to Wisconsin’s recall process to allow for a recall if an elected official has been charged with a serious crime or if probable cause is found that they violated the state code of ethics.
Since the process for recalls is set forth in the state Constitution, a change to the recall process requires a constitutional amendment. In order for the state Constitution to be amended, a resolution must be passed by both houses through two consecutive legislative sessions, after which it must be approved by voters in a statewide referendum. AJR 63 is currently before the Assembly Committee on Election and Campaign Reform.
The ongoing use of recalls to attempt to change the outcome of the most recent general election will not only be costly to taxpayers, but it will discourage elected officials from making the tough decisions that are inherent with public service. Please feel free to contact me or visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com with your thoughts regarding the recall process and AJR 63 or to voice additional questions, comments, or concerns.