(UPI) — A group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder has sued Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for refusing to hold special elections for two open state legislature seats.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Wisconsin Democrats who live in the districts that have the open seats, which were left vacant by two Republicans — Sen. Frank Lasee of De Pere and Rep. Keith Ripp of Lodi — who each took positions in the Walker administration, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“Governor Scott Walker’s refusal to hold special elections is an affront to representative democracy,” Holder said in a statement. “Forcing citizens to go more than a year without representation in the general Assembly is a plain violation of their rights, and we’re hopeful the court will act quickly to order the governor to hold elections.”
In the legal complaint, Holder says that under state law, Walker “has a positive and plain legal duty to call special elections by promptly issuing writs of election to fill the vacancies” in the open districts if those vacancies occur before May 2.
But Walker says that state statute only applies to lawmakers who resign during an election year. And since Lasee and Ripp both resigned in 2017, the law does not apply. Instead, already planned 2018 elections in November will decide the two open seats.
“Voters are already going to the polls this year to elect new representatives in these districts,” Walker spokesperson Amy Hasenberg said, according to the Cap Times. “This D.C.-based special interest group wants to force Wisconsin taxpayers to waste money. The Legislature will be adjourned for 2018 before these seats could be filled in special elections, and staff in these offices are working for constituents until new leaders are elected. Our decision is consistent with the law.”
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