Wisconsin AG files lawsuit after Senate votes to remove elections official

On Sept. 14, the Wisconsin Senate voted 22-11 along party lines to remove Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) Administrator Meagan Wolfe. Hours later, Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) filed a lawsuit to allow Wolfe to retain her position because only three of the six WEC members voted to renominate her in June.

The commission oversees a wide range of election administration duties and is composed of three Democrats and three Republicans. Wisconsin law requires a majority of members to nominate a candidate for WEC administrator for Senate confirmation. The three Republican Commission members voted to renominate Wolfe, while the three Democratic members abstained over concerns the Senate would not confirm her. In the complaint, Kaul alleges that “the Commission’s vote on June 27, 2023, on the proposed appointment of Administrator Wolfe to serve an additional term did not effectuate an appointment,” and that consequently, “the Senate’s September 14, 2023, votes, deeming Administrator Wolfe nominated based on the Senate’s June resolution, and rejecting the ‘appointment’ of Administrator Wolfe to serve an additional term as administrator, have no legal effect.”

Sen. Cory Tomcyzk (R) said the commission has not fulfilled its duties: “There is discontent with how our elections are run here in Wisconsin. Instead of doing their job, three Democrat appointed commissioners that sit on the Wisconsin Elections Commission, neglected to fulfill their statutorily required duty to appoint an administrator have gone to historic lengths to complicate what should have been a simple process.” Wisconsin has a divided government with a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature. Republicans currently hold a 22-11 majority in the Senate and a 64-35 majority in the state Assembly.