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Efforts to recall Wisconsin's powerful Republican Assembly speaker gain momentum


Efforts to recall Wisconsin's powerful Republican Assembly speaker are gaining momentum. The challenge by supporters of former President Donald Trump reflects the long shadow of the 2020 presidential election. Anya van Wagtendonk of Wisconsin Public Radio has more.

ANYA VAN WAGTENDONK, BYLINE: Conservative activist Matthew Snorek stood on the steps of the Wisconsin Elections Commission Monday, brandishing two clear plastic boxes full of paperwork. He said the boxes contained 11,000 signatures from voters angry at how Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos handled concerns over the 2020 presidential election.

MATTHEW SNOREK: Our community's call to fire Robin Vos is a call for genuine electoral integrity.

VAN WAGTENDONK: The effort follows years of turmoil between Vos and supporters of former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin. Most recently, Snorek and his allies criticized Vos for not bringing forward a vote to impeach the state's nonpartisan election administrator, Meagan Wolfe. Snorek says she leveraged absentee voting to help steal the 2020 election.

SNOREK: It's a response to his obstruction of fair elections, highlighted by his blocking of the impeachment of election administrator Meagan Wolfe.

VAN WAGTENDONK: Numerous audits and court challenges have affirmed Biden's victory in the state. Vos himself ordered an investigation into the results that turned up no evidence of voter fraud. But Vos didn't decertify those election results, so in 2022, conservative activists mounted a primary challenge against him for his southeast Wisconsin Assembly seat. And they came surprisingly close to winning. He survived by just a few hundred votes. The group isn't giving up. This recall is their latest effort to get Vos out of office.

SNOREK: Together, we are challenging the status quo, driven by the numerous ways in which Speaker Robin Vos has failed us.

VAN WAGTENDONK: Vos has called the recall attempt a, quote, "waste of time, resources and effort." The Wisconsin Elections Commission will have to verify about 7,000 of the signatures in order to trigger a recall election. If the petitioners are successful, a special election for Vos' seat could be held in six weeks. Depending on the outcome, that could throw the state's legislative leadership into turmoil in this key swing state just eight months out from what will likely be a second Biden-Trump matchup.

For NPR News, I'm Anya van Wagtendonk in Madison.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRICHOTOMY'S "JUNK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Anya van Wagtendonk