Uh oh: Wisconsin board ratifies six recall elections against GOP -- but delays ruling on Dems

No proof of shenanigans yet, but let’s put this on people’s radar now in case all hell breaks loose tomorrow or Thursday.

State election officials on Tuesday approved recall elections against three Republican senators Tuesday but put off decisions on certifying recall petitions against three Democrats…

In April, Dane County Circuit Judge John W. Markson agreed to extend the deadline on calling the elections until this Friday.

Now, board officials plan to return to court to ask for another extension because they say they can’t meet the Friday deadline for the three Democrats. Falk said a court hearing was likely Wednesday or Thursday, and at that time the board will request permission to certify any additional recall elections next week.

The board had been working under a plan to hold all recall elections on July 12. If there were more than one challenger in any race, the July 12 election would become a primary, and the general recall election would be Aug. 9.

If the judge agrees to the new deadline, and the board found recall elections should be held against the Democrats, those elections would be held a week later – on July 19. If there were multiple challengers, the July 19 election would become a primary and the general recall election would be Aug. 16.

In other words, the board’s been reviewing signatures on recall petitions to make sure that they’re not fraudulent. Somehow they’ve managed to complete their review of all of the petitions against Republicans but not a single petititon against Democrats — even though the deadline is just three days away and even though some of the anti-Republican petitions were submitted after the anti-Democratic ones. I had hoped that Steve Eggleston, who did a bang-up job guestblogging for us about the Wisconsin supreme court recount, would tackle this one since, as a Wisconsinite, he might have insight into the impartiality of the Government Accountability Board. Unfortunately he’s unavailable, but follow the link up top and read down and you’ll find local polisci professors insisting that the GAB is nonpartisan. Although…

Rick Esenberg, a visiting assistant professor at Marquette University Law School who teaches election law, said he knew of no evidence that the board was biased, and he wouldn’t level that accusation.

“But,” he added, “I would say that from a public relations standpoint and a public confidence standpoint,” the decision to go ahead with recalls of Republicans while delaying a decision on Democrats “looks just awful.”

The board’s not supposed to meet again until June 8, which means if the judge decides this week that time’s up and that there’ll be no more extensions for reviewing petitions, then the recall effort against the Democrats is dead and the mother of all conservative protests shall descend on Madison. As for the bizarre possibility of the Democratic recall elections being held a week after the GOP ones, I’m momentarily okay with that only because I think it gives conservatives a slight advantage. If the left turns out en masse and recalls a bunch of GOP senators on July 12, the right will suddenly be frantic to undo their new advantage in the senate by turning out en masse themselves a week later. It can only goose turnout, in other words. If all the elections are held the same day, you’d lose the potential for that effect, which is precisely why I’d expect Democrats to challenge any staggered election scheduling in court — assuming there are any elections against them at all. Long story short: Blog traffic windfall on the way this week.