Fitzgerald defends special elections bill

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Thursday Governor Walker reluctantly scheduled special elections to fill two legislative seats that have been subjects of a court battle.

Wisconsin Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald said the legislature will not proceed with a bill created to change the law to eliminate the requirement for a special vote.

Meanwhile, Walker's Republican allies in the legislature held a public hearing Wednesday on a bill that would lift the requirement that special elections get put on the calendar promptly when a seat becomes vacant. Reilly wrote "Representative government and the election of our representatives are never "unnecessary, ' never a 'waste of taxpayer resources, ' and the calling of the special elections are as the Governor acknowledges his 'obligation" to follow".

The state Department of Justice, which is representing Walker in the court case, notified the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Wednesday that it would appeal Reynolds' ruling.

Walker faces a court-ordered deadline of Thursday to call elections for the seats, which opened in December when the officeholders resigned to take jobs in the governor's administration. On Wednesday, Walker appealed to a state Appeals Court in Waukesha. Those changes include adding two months to the time between when a governor calls a special election to when the election is held, and expands the time between a primary and a general special election from four to eight weeks.

Republican lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit special elections after the spring elections in a year with regular fall elections.

The commission doesn't have an estimate for how much a separate special election in January cost.

The GOP-controlled Legislature plans to vote next week on a bill changing the special election law.

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There was no official figure for the turnout after polling stations closed, and full results are not expected before April 2. Judges supervising the polling centers said that of 7,800 registered voters, some 3,000 cast ballots, or around 38 percent.

"Despite Gov. Walker's best attempt to block elections and deny 200,000 voters their constitutional right to representation, justice prevailed and the courts correctly ruled that Republicans can't ignore the law", she said in a statement.

Judge Josann Reynolds, who issued the initial order last week, said at the time that Walker had a "plain and positive" duty to call elections in these districts. Spokesman Reid Magney said the commission stopped tracking costs a year ago after commissioners discontinued the practice because state law doesn't require it to do so.

Democrats have sharply criticized Walker's decision not to call special elections. The appellate court refused to delay the order.

Walker has refused to call special elections to replace Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen.

The absentee voting bill, which had been requested by the state Elections Commission and was passed by the Assembly, is being amended to include the changes to the state's special election law to address Reynolds' ruling.

"We had a different interpretation, but they determined that's the way to go to move forward", Walker said.

The bill they unveiled Monday would alter the timelines for special elections in Wisconsin, effectively barring special elections for these districts in the process.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Walker has said the special elections would be a waste of taxpayer money with the seats coming up for election in the fall.

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