Trump backers submit signatures to force recall election of Vos

Supporters of former President Donald Trump have submitted petitions seeking to force a recall election targeting Wisconsin's top elected Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who vowed to fight the validity of the signatures and can challenge them on multiple grounds.

Associated Press

March 11, 2024 • Southeast Region

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Matthew Snorek stands on the right side of table and sets down a plastic storage container the the surface of a table with a laptop and beverage in a disposable cup also on its surface, with another person on the other side holding out their hands to accept the container, and with multiple people standing in the background holding television cameras, a boom microphone and a smart phone, in a carpeted room with fluorescent lighting.

Matthew Snorek, right, submits petitions to force a recall election targeting Wisconsin's top elected Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on March 11, 2024, in Madison. Vos angered backers of former President Donald Trump when he refused to impeach the official who oversees the battleground state's elections. (Credit: AP Photo / Scott Bauer)

AP News

By Scott Bauer, AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Supporters of former President Donald Trump submitted petitions on March 11 seeking to force a recall election targeting Wisconsin’s top elected Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who angered them when he refused to impeach the official who oversees the battleground state’s elections.

Whether there are enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election this spring will be up to the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission to determine. Vos has vowed to fight the validity of the signatures and any commission decision can be appealed in court.

As the most powerful Republican in the GOP-led Legislature, Vos drives the party’s agenda in the statehouse and beyond. He was first elected in 2004 and is the longest-serving Assembly speaker in state history, holding the post since 2013.

Vos angered Trump and his supporters in Wisconsin by refusing calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state in 2020. Biden’s win of about 21,000 votes has withstood two partial recounts, numerous lawsuits, an independent audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Vos further angered Trump supporters when he did not back a plan to impeach Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official.

Wolfe has been a target of those who falsely believe that Trump won Wisconsin in 2020.

Vos has repeatedly said he was not in favor of impeaching Wolfe because there was not enough support among fellow Republicans to do so. He has said he wants to see Wolfe replaced, but a judge in 2023 blocked the Legislature from taking steps to remove her.

Vos said he had no comment until after he had a chance to review the signatures. On March 10, Vos called into question the validity of the signatures collected and the motives of the circulators.

“It’s truly sad that a group of people who didn’t get their way in the 2020 election are wasting resources and effort working with Democrats to settle a political score rather than better using their time to defeat our ineffective Democrat President,” Vos said in a statement.

Petition organizer Matthew Snorek, who is from the southeastern Wisconsin town of Burlington and owns an extermination business, said he was motivated to recall Vos because he didn’t move to impeach Wolfe and because he thinks Vos has failed to make elections more secure. He also threatened to mount recall efforts against other Republican lawmakers who block Wolfe’s impeachment.

“Fail to serve the people and you could be next,” Snorek said.

The recall petition quoted Vos’ comments from 2022 that he would “try as hard as I can to make sure Donald Trump is not the nominee.” Vos has also said that he would vote for whomever the Republican nominee is in a rematch with Biden.

Snorek said he submitted nearly 11,000 signatures, well above the roughly 6,850 signatures required to force a recall election. Vos said he has assembled a team to review every single one. Wisconsin Elections Commission staff were also immediately reviewing the signatures, with a report on their findings expected later on March 11 or early March 12. The commission planned a March 12 meeting to discuss the recall.

A major unresolved question is which legislative district boundaries would be in effect for a recall election, if one happens.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined March 8 to take up Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ request to clarify whether Wisconsin’s newly approved legislative district maps apply to elections before November, leaving uncertainty about whether signatures for the recall attempt should be collected in Vos’ new district.

Snorek said March 11 that he believes all of the signatures collected were from voters who live in the district Vos was elected to represent, not the one under the newly adopted maps.

The commission has 31 days to determine if the petition has enough valid signatures, which can be appealed in court. If a petition is determined to be sufficient, a recall election must be called for six weeks later.

That means if there is a recall election for Vos, it would most likely take place between late April and late May.

Vos has 10 days to challenge signatures that were collected. He can challenge on a variety of grounds, including that a person signed more than once, signed someone else’s name or doesn’t live in the legislative district. He can also challenge if he believes the person circulating the petition misled the signer about its intent or if a signature was not collected during the allowable circulation period.

Snorek said given that the recall effort submitted more than 4,000 signatures above the minimum required, he is confident it will succeed.

If the recall effort fails, Snorek said he would consider supporting a Republican challenger to Vos in the August primary.

Vos faced a primary challenge in 2022 from Adam Steen, who was backed by Trump and argued that Vos hadn’t done enough to overturn the 2020 election results. Vos won the primary by a mere 260 votes before cruising in the general election, winning with 73% of the vote.

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