After Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker decided not to hold special elections to fill two vacant seats, a Walker-appointed judge told him the move violated state law and the elections must be held.
But rather than adhere to the judge's ruling, Republican lawmakers -- who seem to fear Democrats could win those seats -- have decided to change special election laws instead.
“It’s clear that little thought was given to the impact of the special elections ruling,” Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement, saying an extraordinary session of the legislature was necessary to “clean up” the statute on special elections.
“In essence, there will be two elections occurring simultaneously for the two offices,” the statement continued. “It will undoubtedly lead to voter confusion and electoral chaos. Also, holding the special elections after the conclusion of the regular session is a waste of taxpayer dollars and local government resources.”
Walker indicated he approves of the plan and will sign the changes into law, but Democrats have called the move an "attack on democracy".
The Democrats' view seems to be in line with Judge Josann Reynolds, who said in her ruling that failure to hold the elections would disenfranchise the thousands of voters who have been without representation since the seats were vacated last year.
Walker's fear of losing Republican seats is not without merit:
In January, Democrat Patty Schachtner scored a big upset by winning a state Senate seat in a rural, conservative Wisconsin district. Walker called the victory a “wake up call,” and national Democrats pointed to it as the latest sign that they could see a huge wave in the November midterms.