Enough signatures collected to force recall election for Wisconsin GOP leader, commission says

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Supporters of former President Donald Trump submitted 16 more valid signatures than needed to force a recall election of Wisconsin’s top elected Republican depending on what district the recall should be held in, based on a review by the state elections commission released Tuesday.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission will meet Thursday to vote on whether to order a recall election targeting Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. But the key question for the commission will be whether signatures to force the recall needed to come from the district Vos was elected to represent in the 2022 election, or if they should have come from his district created under new maps in effect for the 2024 election.

If the old maps are used, petition circulators gathered just enough signatures to force a recall, the elections commission staff said. If the new maps are used, they fell more than 3,000 signatures short. The staff took no position on which maps should be used.

The commission’s decision on whether to call the recall election can be appealed to circuit court.

Recall organizers targeted Vos, the longest-serving Assembly speaker in Wisconsin history, after he refused calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state. Biden’s win of about 21,000 votes has withstood two partial recounts, numerous lawsuits, an independent audit and a review by a conservative law firm.

Vos further angered Trump supporters when he did not back a plan to impeach Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official.

Vos, who has derided those targeting him as “whack jobs and morons,” said in a statement that he was confident the petitioners have not gathered enough legal signatures and will make that argument to the commission on Thursday.

The elections commission asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify whether any recall election should take place in the district where Vos was elected to serve, or under new district boundary lines that take effect for the regular November election.

The court in April declined to further clarify or amend its December ruling that found the current maps to be unconstitutional and barred their future use.

Vos asserted that the recall effort must be rejected because of the Supreme Court’s order barring any future elections using the old district lines. But petition circulators said it can go forward because the state constitution allows for the recall of any incumbent.

Elections staff did not take a side, leaving it up to the bipartisan commission to decide what to do.

If the commission decides to order a recall election, it would be held on Aug. 6. If more than two candidates run in a recall election, the primary for that would be Aug. 6, with the recall election Sept. 3.

The state's regular fall primary election, where Vos will be on the ballot seeking another two-year term, is Aug. 13. Even if there is a recall election and Vos loses, he would only be out of office through the end of the year. He could win the general election and be back in office starting in January. The Legislature is not scheduled to be in session again until January.

Trump supporters, including former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, on May 28 submitted more than 9,000 signatures to trigger the recall election.

They needed 6,850 valid signatures to force a recall election in the district where Vos was elected to serve. There were 6,866 valid signatures collected from that district.

There needed to be 7,195 from Vos's new district for a recall, but only 3,807 were collected from that one, the elections commission report said.

In March, the group submitted more than 9,000 signatures, but the elections commission determined that only 5,905 of them were valid.