Wisconsin judge rejects attempt to revive recall targeting top GOP lawmaker

MADISON, Wis. — (AP) — A judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt to revive the recall effort targeting the longest-serving Wisconsin Assembly speaker in state history, saying signatures were wrongly collected under legislative boundary lines now barred from use in any election.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump had targeted Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for recall after he refused calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state. Biden’s win of about 21,000 votes has withstood two partial recounts, lawsuits, an independent audit and a review by a conservative law firm.

Vos further angered Trump supporters when he did not back a plan to impeach Meagan Wolfe, the state's top elections official.

Vos recall organizers failed to submit enough signatures to trigger an election in their first attempt in May. The Wisconsin Elections Commission last month rejected a second recall attempt on a bipartisan vote, also finding that it fell short of the needed number of signatures.

Recall organizers appealed the decision to Dane County Circuit Court on Friday. On Tuesday, Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled that the organizers' attempt to force a vote under old legislative maps violates the state Supreme Court's order barring the use of those boundaries.

Recall organizers had collected signatures for the recall effort from voters in the 63rd Assembly District, which is the one Vos was elected to represent in 2022. But in December, the Wisconsin Supreme Court barred the use of those boundary lines going forward.

The Legislature approved new maps that put Vos in a new 33rd Assembly District.

The elections commission had asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify which district boundaries would apply for the recall, but the court declined to weigh in.

Recall organizers had argued that the elections commission should have accepted signatures that were collected after a 60-day petition circulation deadline had passed, but before the deadline to submit the petitions.

But Ehlke didn't even address that issue because he ruled that the signatures were collected in the old district.

“Simply put, this court will not command WEC to do what the Wisconsin Supreme Court forbids,” Ehlke wrote referring to the elections commission.

Vos and recall organizers did not respond to requests for comment.

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