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"The Politics of Scheduling" - by Jim Ellis 
October 3, 2019
 
Earlier, it was reported that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) is going to re-schedule the special election to replace resigned Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau), and now we have more information. 
 
At first glance, we see an instance where a state election law conflicts with a federal statute, which national government officials apparently brought to the Governor's attention after he made public the original voting schedule. Wisconsin special election law creates a 28-day period between special primary and general, while the federal MOVE Act, designed to provide some uniform structure for overseas and military voters stationed abroad, mandates at least 45 days be placed between elections. 
 
The Governor is reportedly looking at two scenarios, and both will move the special cycle to a much later time frame. Instead of January 27th, the original special general date (the special primary was slated for December 30th), the new general will likely either be concurrent with the April 7th presidential and statewide primary, or May 5th. Due to the federal law requirements and the current state election calendar, the Governor cannot schedule both the special primary and general to coincide with the already-set state election timetable.
 
Now for the politics: Wisconsin has a regular statewide election in the early part of the even-numbered year where judges and many local officials are elected in addition to other selected officeholder positions. In this particular April 7th election, the same day as the presidential primary, Republican state Supreme Court Judge Dan Kelly is running for a full ten-year term. Key Democratic leaders counseled the Governor to schedule the election early so a large Republican turnout from a strong Republican congressional district did not hurt the party's effort to unseat the high court judge.
 
On the other hand, Democratic turnout is likely to be very large on April 7th because voters are coming to participate in the presidential primary. Using this reasoning, the Democrats' chances of upsetting the GOP in the special congressional election would be much greater even though the seat has performed well for the Republicans throughout this decade.
 
Since the Democrats don't yet have a candidate in the congressional race, it is likely Gov. Evers will listen to the group who wants him to schedule the special on a day other than the statewide primary. Should he do so, the most probable election calendar would be a February 18th primary and May 5th stand-alone special general election.
 
At this point, Republicans have three announced congressional candidates, two of whom appear credible. The third, businessman and hobby farmer Michael Opela will not likely threaten either state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) or Afghanistan Purple Heart veteran Jason Church, a former aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who lost both his legs in battle. 
 
In a statement about the scheduling situation, the two active candidates took different approaches. Sen. Tiffany indicated that "it is imperative that all military and overseas voters have the opportunity to vote," and further said he is prepared to win whenever the election is calendared.
 
But Mr. Church took a different approach, swiping at the Governor in saying that "Evers' political motivations have resulted in chaos and uncertainty for voters."
Whatever his decision, Gov. Evers is likely to move quickly. He announced his original schedule the day Rep. Duffy officially resigned, so if that action is any indication we won't have to wait long for his response.
 
After the MOVE Act was passed in Congress and earned the President's signature, the Wisconsin legislature took action to bring their regular elections into compliance. They did not, however, change the special election statutes; hence, creating the logistical problem that has sidetracked filling this northwestern Wisconsin congressional vacancy.

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Employee Voter Registration Week 2017

September 25-29, 2017

Employee Voter Registration Week is an effort to make a dent in the number of unregistered citizens across the country. During this week, companies and associations will join together in an effort to encourage voter registration among private sector employees. The initiative will not tell employees how to vote or who to vote for, but instead aims to serve as a resource to help employers educate their employees about the issues that are important to their industries and provide key deadlines, voter registration, and polling location information.

For more information on Employee Voter Registration Week, visit www.EmployeesVote.com