Recalls Put Wis. Senate Control In Play
August 9, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
MADISON, Wis., Aug. 9 (UPI) — Six Wisconsin Republican state senators face recall votes Tuesday, putting control of the state’s upper chamber in play.
One Democratic senator has withstood a recall attempt, and on Aug. 16, two more Democrats will face recall votes.
State Government Accountability Board officials won’t offer turnout projections, but people on both sides of the races forecast good turnouts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Republicans control all three branches of state government in Wisconsin, holding a 19-14 advantage in the Senate. Democrats must win at least three seats Tuesday to take back control of the Senate. Depending on Tuesday’s results, however, Republicans could have a chance to regain control again next week.
The recall effort was sparked by lawmakers’ positions Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial law ending most collective bargaining rights for most public employees and the protests it sparked in Madison, the state’s capital. The Senate’s 14 Democrats fled the state to stall consideration of the bill that later was revised so it could pass without the absent senators.
Joe Heim, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said Democratic and Republican voters have become more engaged because of the state’s bitter political climate.
“It’s extremely historical and unprecedented,” Heim said. “[Republicans] woke up a sleeping giant and energized a group of people that had not been … particularly active in politics in recent years.”
The recall elections also will see the state’s new voter identification law get a “soft implementation,” the Journal Sentinel reported. Poll workers will be asking voters for a photo ID, but people will be allowed to vote even if they don’t have one. Showing a photo ID will be required in elections starting in February 2012.