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Recalls Benefited the GOP, But We Still Need to Reform Election Laws

Walker's victory is great for the state, but the events of last 15 months highlight the need for more election law reform.

As I reflect on the result of the recall elections several key topics come to mind of what to write about. 

Should this blog be about how President Obama cares only about himself, so much so that he would not help the unions or Tom Barrett, since it would stain him with the loss?  

I could write how the majority of the state has spoken, and they agree with Scott Walker in ending the tyranny of public employee unions. I could have chose to write how this election shows when the public knows the issue and see’s the results of Walkers reforms that the money spent on commercials changed nothing.

I have actually chosen something else, as the issues listed here should be clear to all and require no further action. What does need action is our election laws. This election highlighted the urgent need to reform the recall procedure in order to stop abuse of this option as well as the need to end same day voter registration.

This process has eliminated any argument that Walker’s reforms are unpopular or went too far, which is positive for this state. The cost of proving this has been uncertainty about the future direction for last 15 months and a public sick of constant elections. Democrats refused to care about the needs of Wisconsin beyond their special interest master, public employee unions during this time.

I have heard two ideas for reform, the first being to limit recalls for only misconduct in office. The second idea is to change the constitution to require as petition signatures equal to the number of votes the candidate you want to recall got in the last election.  I think the latter is the best choice or do both.

Allowing signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast means only the base of the opposing party has to feel a recall is warranted.  It is like when I was a kid and we argued about the result of a football play so we decided to have a “do over”. But a “do over” back then did not cost millions of dollars. In addition we want people to have courage to make tough decisions. This is easier if legislators know they have time for voters to see the results.

If we look at the election results we see only three recalls resulted in a change of party, and two of those occurred last year before they had a chance to see the results of the reforms in action. Of those only Dan Kapanke dropped more than 5%, having a 6.4% drop in votes received from 51.4%to 45%. 

The other losers lost less than 3% of the vote and both lost close races in districts they barely won in their last election. Many of the candidates won with more than 55% of the vote.

From the Senate races it is clear that only Dan Kapanke had a significant enough drop in support that indicated that the recall may have been justified. In seats that tend to have close races it is tempting to call for a “do over” encouraging recalls with these low thresholds to meet.

If we change the constitution to require the same number of signatures as votes the candidate to be recalled received in the last election, it will mean parties would need more than just their own base to complete a successful recall effort, they will need many of the independent voters to agree that a recall is justified.

The governor election probably best highlights that the current standard of 25% is ridiculously low. Democrats collected about 901,000 signatures which is still only 80% of the votes cast for Walker in 2010, without serious challenges to the vast amounts of clearly fraudulent signatures. Because this election is a rematch it is easy to do a fair comparison with the 2010 election. Walker won this election with more votes and a larger margin of victory. This clearly shows the recall wasted millions of taxpayer money needlessly.

Clearly none of the recalls against the Democrats were justified as they all won and the highest percent of signatures compared to votes cast in past election was 44%. Although despite the fact it is clearly acceptable to voters in these districts to have Senators that refuse to do their job, this is still disruptive to running the state and not fair to the citizens of other districts to allow them to stop progress.

I think the fix for this is not recalls, instead either allowing the governor to replace Legislators that refuse to show after 3 weeks or eliminate the need for more than half to be present to vote on financial bills.

The second thing we need is to eliminate Same Day voter registration, even if we have to comply with motor voter laws. This will help ensure integrity of elections, it is better for people who would need to worry about losing their jobs to be responsible for determining if people have appropriate evidence of their address and are eligible voters, than to have volunteers on election day handle this obligation.

Not only does this encourage fraud, but it creates unnecessary delays to the voting process. This election should have been quick with only two offices in most areas, but it takes longer to fill out forms to register voters. Maybe this could eliminate the need to have people voting in Milwaukee hours after the polls closed. If people are too lazy to register at least the week before the election they are too lazy to vote.

Both parties should be able to work to reform the recall procedures to benefit the whole state. Now that the recalls are done it is time to correct this issue.  I suggest these changes knowing that the Recall’s were good politically for my side.

We do not need a new election just because a politicians popularity drops slightly in a evenly split district. If change is needed that why we have regular elections. I understand the Democrats will likely resist ending same day voter registration because it is key to their fraud operations. But I would call on both parties to do the right thing and make that change also.

A few reasonable changes can prevent a minority from frustrating the will of voters, even if the minority is obnoxious and loud. These changes can prevent the instability, and the cost brought by the temper tantrum thrown by the left.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Beth June 12, 2012 at 03:27 AM
WOW is all I can say - the comments have strayed so far from the question! Amazing! BOTH sides of the argument need to stick to the point for all the other information being given is lost in the static.
Lyle Ruble June 12, 2012 at 03:58 AM
@Bryant Divelbiss.... You haven't a clue about public service workers. My wife is a good example. She is a child protection social worker and has to deal with the worst of the worst situations. She does a job that most people wouldn't want to do and very few could do it. She has more education and training than you do and earns probably 1/2 as much. She doesn't do the job for the money, but she is dedicated to helping children at risk. For the work she does what respect does she get from people like you, none. She has been scapegoated and demonized just because she works for a government agency. She wasn't at any of the demonstrations because she was working. She hasn't had a pay raise in over six years and the last one was a whopping 1%. If you want to walk a mile in her shoes then you'll find out that your stereotyping is unwarranted. As extreme and emotive as your blogs have been and you coming out against unions, if you employer knew what you were up to, then they might not be too pleased. Even one of the people you work with called you out about your attitude and treatment of union members at work.
Greg June 12, 2012 at 04:00 AM
And by pointing this out you contributed to the topic how?
The Anti-Alinsky June 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Lyle, GOD bless your wife for the work and dedications she does. I have a good friend that does similiar work, and she to is one of the shining stars of pubic sector employees. I don't know why social workers are getting the shaft when it comes to pay. However, the vast majority (that I know of) make extremely good money and have great benefits. It is because of the emphasis placed on these workers that resulted in less pay for your wife.
Steve ® June 12, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I like turtles

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