MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin Senate Elections Committee was set to vote Monday on the future of the battleground state’s top elections official, clearing the way for the full Republican-controlled Senate to vote on her removal as soon as Thursday.
Democrats have accused Republican leaders of improperly pushing through the confirmation process for Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Election Commissioner Meagan Wolfe after the commission’s three Republicans and three Democrats deadlocked along party lines during a renomination vote in June .
Monday’s vote comes despite objections from the state’s Democratic attorney general and the Legislature’s nonpartisan attorneys, who have said that without a majority vote from the committee to reappoint Wolfe, the Senate cannot further decide whether to appoint her confirm or dismiss.
Absent a majority vote by the committee, a recent Supreme Court ruling appears to allow Wolfe to remain in office indefinitely as a holdover. Conservatives have used this ruling to maintain control of key policy councils. If Wolfe’s confirmation is rejected by the full Senate — an outcome that would normally result in her resignation — the matter will likely be resolved through a lawsuit.
Wolfe did not attend a public hearing the Senate Elections Committee held last month on her reappointment. That hearing attracted dozens of election skeptics who repeated widely debunked claims about the 2020 election and called for Wolfe to be fired or even arrested.
Conspiracy theorists falsely claim Wolfe was part of a plot to rig the 2020 election in favor of President Joe Biden, and some Senate Republicans have vowed to impeach her before the 2024 presidential election. Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, a result that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a review by a conservative law firm and numerous state and federal lawsuits.
Election observers have expressed concern that firing Wolfe or challenging her position during the 2024 election could embolden election skeptics who have already harassed and threatened election officials during the 2020 election.
Harm Venhuizen is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.