Recall rules: Issues involved in Wisconsin’s first statewide recall primary Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 03, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

On Tuesday, May 8, Wisconsin will be experiencing its first statewide recall primary. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, the recall election is happening and state citizens should be paying attention.

Faithful citizenship resources

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) encourages  Catholic voters to visit its Faithful Citizenship voter education page for resources on Catholic teaching (

There you will find  a letter from the bishops of Wisconsin written prior to the 2010 elections. In that letter, the bishops admit that “being a faithful citizen is never easy.” Yet, they encourage Catholics to “remain engaged, not just politically but also culturally,” since there is “so much good that we will contribute to our nation and to our world.”

The WCC Web site also includes the latest edition of its Guidelines for Church Involvement in Electoral Politics as well as a question card voters can use when questioning candidates running for state office.

Information for state voters

Also helpful is information provided by the state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB), which issued a press release with information for state voters about the primary recall rules (

The GAB notes that on May 8 there will be Republican and Democratic primaries for governor, and Democratic primaries for lieutenant governor and four state senators in Districts 13, 21, 23, and 29.

“Wisconsin has gone through great political turmoil since 2011, and the recall primaries and elections are the voters’ opportunity to have their say on these issues,” said Kevin Kennedy, the state’s chief election officer. “We encourage the people to get out and vote.”

Here is some of the information provided by the GAB:

Early voting — In-person absentee voting (also known as early voting) is being held in municipal clerks’ offices during normal business hours. The period for in-person absentee voting ends Friday, May 4, at 5 p.m. or the close of business, whichever is later.

Absentee voting by mail — Voters may request an absentee ballot from their local municipal clerk’s office. The deadline for most voters is 5 p.m. Thursday, May 3. The deadline for military and those who are indefinitely confined due to age, infirmity, health, or disability is 5 p.m. Friday, May 4. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, and received by 4 p.m. Friday, May 11,  to be counted.

Voter photo ID — The law is currently on hold as two lower court decisions stopping voter photo ID are being appealed. Given the normal amount of time appeals take, it is highly unlikely both injunctions would be overturned before the primary or the recall election on June 5. If that somehow happens, the GAB and Wisconsin’s local election officials will be ready to implement the law.

Crossing party lines — Because each recall primary is a separate election event, voters may cross parties in the recall primary, but they may still only vote once per office. For example, in the governor’s primary, you may only vote for one person, either a Republican or a Democratic candidate. There are only Democratic primaries for lieutenant governor and state Senate.

Write-in votes — There have been rumors that the governor could avoid a final recall election on June 5 if he won the Democratic primary by write-in votes. This is untrue. A person cannot be a candidate in two primaries for the same office. The GAB has instructed clerks not to count write-in votes for anyone who is already a candidate in another primary for the same office. Since the governor is a primary candidate for the Republican Party, any write-in votes for the governor in the Democratic Party are invalid.

Check your registration — Voters can use the Voter Public Access Web site at to make sure that they are registered at their current address and to identify the races they are eligible to vote in. You can register at the polling place on Election Day.

While exercising our right and responsibility to vote, we should also follow the state bishops’ advice in demonstrating charity and respect for one another in the midst of vigorous debates.