MADISON, Wis. – In a recent ruling, a judge in Wisconsin has affirmed the legality of the state’s top elections official’s position, dealing a blow to Republicans who have sought to remove her. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission came to a deadlock in June over the reappointment of Meagan Wolfe as the administrator of elections. While three Republican commissioners voted in favor, the three Democrats abstained, effectively preventing the nomination from reaching the state Senate, where Republicans could have fired her. The commission requires a four-vote majority for any actions.
Wolfe has been the target of conspiracy theories and threats from election skeptics who falsely accused her of being involved in a plot to rig the 2020 vote in favor of President Joe Biden. Biden won the state of Wisconsin by a margin of nearly 21,000 votes, a victory that has been confirmed by two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, and multiple state and federal lawsuits. Despite this, the fight over who will lead the Wisconsin Elections Commission, known as the WEC, has created instability as the state prepares for this year’s presidential race.
Dane County Circuit Judge Ann Peacock, in her ruling, expressed agreement with the WEC’s position that stability is crucial in the elections system. She stated that her injunction would provide necessary stability, safeguarding against any further baseless attempts to remove Wolfe. Previously, Senate Republicans had voted to fire Wolfe in September, disregarding objections from Democrats and the Legislature’s nonpartisan attorneys who argued that the Senate lacked the authority to take such action as Wolfe was a holdover and had not been reappointed.
Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul challenged the Senate’s vote, leading to a change in course by Republican legislative leaders. They argued that the vote to fire Wolfe was symbolic and had no legal effect. Furthermore, they called for the judge to order the elections commission to appoint an administrator for the Senate to vote on. However, Judge Peacock reaffirmed her previous ruling, clarifying that Wolfe’s continued service as administrator was legal due to the deadlock on her reappointment. As a result, there is no obligation for the commission to appoint a new leader while Wolfe remains in her position.
Additionally, Judge Peacock ruled that a legislative leadership committee lacks the authority to appoint an interim administrator while Wolfe serves. She also issued an order instructing Republican legislative leaders not to take any action that goes against her ruling. Meagan Wolfe and Republican legislative leaders, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, have not yet responded to requests for comment on the ruling.
In summary, a judge in Wisconsin has determined that Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official, is legally holding her position, providing stability to Wisconsin’s elections system. This ruling marks another setback for Republicans who had attempted to remove Wolfe from her post. The ongoing legal battle over the leadership of the Wisconsin Elections Commission continues to create uncertainty as the state prepares for the upcoming presidential race.