Lawmakers back to work over controversial election issue - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Lawmakers back to work over controversial election issue

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MADISON (WKOW) - Republican legislative leaders announced Friday an extraordinary session of the legislature would take place to try to alter law on special elections, after a Dane County judge ruled elections needed to be held to fill open seats in both the assembly and senate.

In a joint statement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the leaders said changes are needed to halt the folly of the judicially-ordered special elections.

"It will undoubtedly lead to voter confusion and electoral chaos...a waste of taxpayer dollars,"  according to Vos and Fitzgerald. 

The special elections could intersect with campaigning for upcoming primary elections, and the two, open seats are already the subject of November voting.

The senate seat of Republican Frank Lasee and assembly seat of Republican Keith Ripp were vacated in December when they were appointed to positions in Governor Walker's administration.  Walker maintained current law allowed him discretion in scheduling special elections, and he chose not to, meaning the two legislative seats would remain vacant for more than a year.

In response to a lawsuit filed against Walker's decision by a group headed by former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, Dane County Judge Josann Reynolds ruled Walker misinterpreted relevant law, and he must order the special elections.

Vos responded to Reynolds' decision by maintaining Reynolds "...decides to inject her own personal opinion," in her ruling, prompting the area's chief judge of the area's judicial district, Dane County Judge William Hanrahan to call for Vos to apologize.  "You took the low road,"  Hanrahan maintained, calling Vos' comments a personal attack on his colleague.

In a statement, Walker said he was poised to sign an expected clarification of election law as a result of the extraordinary legislative session.

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