Wisconsin GOP leader says Trump backers seeking to recall him don't have enough signatures

Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 21, 2024

MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin's top Republican lawmaker, who derided supporters of former President Donald Trump attempting to recall him from office as "whack jobs and morons," on Thursday challenged the validity of thousands of signatures collected and declared the effort failed.

If the challenges are successful, there would be nowhere near enough valid signatures to force a recall election for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Vos is being targeted for recall because he refused to impeach the state's top elections official or proceed with attempting to decertify President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Wisconsin. His actions angered Trump, who accused Vos of covering up election corruption, while Trump's followers mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge in 2022 and are now trying to force a recall election.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission, based on its initial cursory review, determined there were not enough valid signatures collected from residents of the district Vos was elected to represent.

But Vos' district lines are changing under new legislative maps that take effect in November. The Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the state Supreme Court to determine which lines should be in place for any recall election. The answer to that would also determine how many signatures were needed to trigger the recall election.

The court gave parties until Thursday to respond to the request that it clarify the issue.

Vos contends that no matter what lines are used, petition circulators fell "woefully short" of the needed valid signatures to force a recall election. He also alleged the recall effort was "plagued with fraud and criminality."

"This failed effort has proven to be what I said it would be from the beginning — a waste of time and resources," Vos said in a statement. "That is especially true for the residents whose identities have been stolen and the local officials who must now investigate these matters."

The Racine County district attorney was also investigating claims that the petitions included names of people who did not sign it.

Petition organizers have alleged a wide array of conspiracy theories to explain why their petitions contained invalid signatures. They did not return a message seeking comment after Vos filed his challenges.

Based on the district Vos was elected to serve most recently in 2022, circulators needed 6,850 valid signatures. The elections commission has not determined how many signatures would be needed in the new district Vos will be living in for the November general election.

The elections commission has until April 11 to decide whether there are enough valid signatures to order a recall election. Its decision can be appealed in court.

The commission has said that if there were, a recall the primary would likely be on May 21 with the general election on June 18.