Wisconsin Republicans Begin Effort to Abolish Bipartisan Elections Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wisconsin Senate Elections Committee Chairman Dan Knodl (R) and 10 Assembly Republicans have introduced legislation to abolish the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), the latest step in Republicans’ continued attacks on Wisconsin elections.

According to the state’s legislative bureau, the legislation would dissolve WEC effective June 30, 2024, and hand off WEC’s responsibilities to the secretary of state, which is currently held by Sarah Godlewski (D). 

A key provision of the proposal would prohibit the secretary of state from taking any action relating to election administration without prior approval from the committees in the state legislature that oversee election administration. The bill would make an exception for “internal operations and procedures of the office.”

Due to the state’s extreme gerrymandering in favor of Republicans, both committees are controlled by Republicans, granting them full control of election administration in the state.

WEC — a bipartisan commission adopted in 2015 by Republican legislators and former Republican Gov. Scott Walker — serves as the state’s election regulatory agency that administers and enforces state election laws. Before WEC, Wisconsin elections were administered and enforced by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which consisted of six former judges appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

State Rep. Ty Bodden (R), who was part of the group that introduced the bill, claimed the move was done in part to allow for county clerks to run for a position overseeing the state’s elections. Currently, individuals who have previously held partisan office are not eligible to become WEC administrators, while they would be permitted to run for secretary of state.

WEC has come under fire from Republicans who have succumbed to conspiracy theories following the 2020 election. In September, the Wisconsin Senate voted along party lines to remove WEC administrator Meagan Wolfe, the top election official in the state. However, the attempted ouster was done without authority and in an improper manner, and Wolfe has remained in the position.

After that effort failed, Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos (R) advanced an impeachment resolution against Wolfe in November, which has also failed to advance.

Read the bill here.

Read more about Republicans’ attempts to remove Wolfe here.