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Panel OKs recall elections against 3 more Republicans


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State election officials on Tuesday approved recall elections against three Republican senators but put off decisions on certifying recall petitions against three Democrats.

That decision by the Government Accountability Board drew cries of partisanship from Republicans and set up the possibility that two sets of recall elections would be held a week apart, rather than all on the same day.

"This is an example of a supposedly neutral government agency acting in a blatantly partisan manner to further the objectives of a particular political party," said Dan Hunt, who led the effort to recall Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie).

That charge from Hunt and other Republicans comes just four years after every GOP lawmaker in the state Legislature voted to create the accountability board in an attempt to put a nonpartisan agency in charge of elections.

Board attorney Shane Falk said the board has been working overtime to review all the recall petitions, with half a dozen board employees working on them over the Memorial Day weekend. But they have not had time to fully analyze the challenges to the recalls against Democrats, which are based on different arguments than the Republican challenges.

"We've attempted to work concurrently on all the petitions but we simply don't have enough staff," Falk told the board.

The board unanimously approved recall elections for Republican Sens. Rob Cowles of Allouez, Alberta Darling of River Hills and Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. That follows rulings last week to hold recall elections for Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, Dan Kapanke of LaCrosse and Luther Olsen of Ripon.

Republicans are trying to recall three Democratic senators - Wirch, Dave Hansen of Green Bay and Jim Holperin of Conover.

The recall attempts - unprecedented in Wisconsin and the nation - were launched in response to the stance senators took on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's now-stalled plan to greatly limit collective bargaining for public workers.

The board was not able to meet initial deadlines to determine whether recall elections should be held because they had to review tens of thousands of signatures and legal arguments from the two sides. At the time it was also in the midst of conducting a recount in the April 5 race for state Supreme Court - the first statewide recount in more than two decades.

In April, Dane County Circuit Judge John W. Markson agreed to extend the deadlines on calling the elections until this Friday.

Now, the board plans to file a request in court Wednesday to ask for another extension because it can't meet the Friday deadline for the three Democrats.

More election shenanigans in Wisconsin.
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