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State recalls, recount strengthen our democratic rights

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It is indeed an exciting time for Wisconsin politics.

Eight recall elections submitted thus far -- five for Republican officeholders and three for Democrats -- could potentially change the leadership roles for the state Senate. If Democrats net three additional seats, they will control one-half of the legislature, providing a much-needed check on Gov. Scott Walker's policy initiatives. More recall elections could also be on their way, though the deadline dates for filing them are fast approaching.

Meanwhile, a statewide election recount is set to start that will determine whether sitting justice David Prosser, a judicial ally of Walker's, will remain on the state Supreme Court. Prosser won the election by more than 7,000 votes, but only after tens of thousands of "missing" ballots in Waukesha County were discovered. Other voting irregularities have also been spotted within Waukesha, including in 2006 when there were 20,000 more votes than ballots cast.

The recount is unlikely to net a victory for JoAnne Kloppenburg, Prosser's opponent in the Supreme Court race. Seven thousand votes is seen as an insurmountable lead even if it's within one-half of one percent of the total votes cast. Still, with how close this race was, and with Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus's terrible track record to consider, it makes perfect sense to let this recount take affect.

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These two events in Wisconsin, though separate and affecting different branches of government, symbolize all that is RIGHT with our state at a time when so many things are going wrong. When a governor's aims are the destruction of workers' rights within the state he represents; when that same governor appoints government agents based on their relationship to Republican campaigns (or his campaign funds) rather than qualifications they may or may not possess; when legislators deliberately ignore open meetings law, desecrating decades of respect for the people's right to know the business of their legislature; or when taxes are raised on the poorest of our state's wage earners (at a time when $140 million in tax breaks are given to the state's wealthiest businesses); when corruption and misplaced priorities rule our state's government, its policies and its enacted law, it's reassuring to know that SOME semblance of the rule of law, including the right to recall elected officials as well as the ability to request an electoral recount in the face of questionable discrepancies, remain celebrated fixtures in our state's democratic process.

We shouldn't overlook the significance that these two events present to us, especially at this critical juncture in our state's political history. We are witnessing a direct attack on worker and family values, a pitting of the wealthy and elite class against working Wisconsinites who are simply trying to stay afloat during a tumultuous economic period. It is a debate well worth having, but not at the expense of our democratic traditions, an expense that Gov. Walker is apparently happy to expend.

Support the recall efforts, if only in principle, as well as the recount of the state's Supreme Court race. Wisconsin is better off for having these processes available in order to preserve our democratic rights.

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