Senators Unclear Who They Currently Represent and Who Could Recall Them

MNS [Madison, Wisc…] The Government Accountability Board did its best to clear up confusion regarding potential recall elections Senate Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The GAB has determined that newly redistricted Senate and Assembly district maps won’t go into full effect until November 6, 2012.  However, they are partially in effect now.

Confused? You are not alone.

Lawmakers were told that they currently represent the constituents in the new districts, but only the residents of the old districts can participate in a recall election.  This led to a great deal of confusion among the senators.

Senator John Erpenbach, in a question to GAB, explained Monroe was in his old district but not in the new, and Portage is in his new district but not in the old.  GAB explained he currently represents Portage, but Portage could not participate in a recall election against him.  He does not currently represent Monroe, but Monroe could participate in an election against him.

The closer a recall election is organized to November 6, 2012, the more confusing the process will become.

Erpenbach wanted to know if a recall primary was held before November 6, 2012 and the general recall election was held afterwards, which map would be used.

Kevin Kennedy, GAB executive director, could only proffer a guess.

“The longer into 2012 people wait to start to recall someone, the more problems we’re going to see,” Kennedy said.  “Anytime after May, they should be planning for the new district.”

There is also the question of legislative literature.  It is common practice for lawmakers to send out informational materials to their constituents prior to an election using state funds.  Someone like Senator Erpenbach could still do that.  However he could only send the official correspondence to his current constituents, which would not necessarily be the ones who could vote for him in the recall.

In the past, legislative and court action have made the effective date of new district maps immediate, but the GAB says, that is not the case in the most recent redistricting law.

Insiders admit this confusion will almost certainly be litigated if attempts are made to recall sitting state legislators before the regularly scheduled 2012 elections.