Wisconsin Votes in Recall Elections

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Voters in parts of the northern U.S. state of Wisconsin are choosing whether to recall six Republican state senators after a contentious battle over public workers' collective bargaining rights.

At issue is a budget measure passed earlier this year by the Republican-dominated state legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Scott Walker. It strips most public workers of their rights to bargain on labor contracts.

Before its passage, the legislation generated angry protests at the state capitol and a walkout by Democratic lawmakers.

Since its passage, the law has survived a legal challenge that went all the way to the state supreme court.

In response, angry voters petitioned for the recall of nine state senators — three Democrats and six Republicans. One Democrat survived his recall election last month. The other two Democrats face recall votes next week.

The power balance in the Senate will remain unclear until the outcome of next week's vote. But if Democrats win five of the remaining eight elections, they will have a majority in the state Senate and will break up a Republican monopoly on lawmaking.

Recall votes are triggered when a certain number of constituents petition the state's Government Accountability Board. Officials must have been in office for at least a year.

Governor Walker faced outrage from Democrats concerning the budget measure. He took office earlier this year and thus was spared the possibility of his own recall election. The state's political climate could affect whether he faces a recall next year.