Why Wisconsin’s Assembly Vote Was Illegal

Early Friday morning, the Republican leadership of Wisconsin’s state assembly rushed through Governor Walker’s bill that would strip most unionized state employees of their ability to engage in collective bargaining. As is by now familiar, the vote opened and closed in a matter of seconds, leaving 28 members of the assembly uncounted in the vote, which passed by a 51 to 17 margin (all 51 in favor, it should be noted, were Republicans).

Progressive media outlets—who, to their credit, have expressed outrage at the underhanded tactics employed by the Republican majority—are already touting this as a victory for Walker. But this concession seems premature as a close inspection of the Wisconsin assembly rules suggests that the vote was illegal.

According to Assembly Rule 76 (6), “During a roll call vote, any member may raise the point of order that a member appears to be absent from the chamber but is shown as voting according to the roll call display boards. If the presiding officer rules the point of order ‘well taken’, the vote of the absent member may not be recorded.”1

The clear intent of the rule is to prevent error or fraud from occurring in votes taken in the state assembly. But exercise and enforcement of the rule also clearly requires that there be sufficient time during a vote for assembly members to register whether or not there is a discrepancy between votes recorded and the members physically present on the floor.

Opening and closing a vote within seconds clearly violates the intent for which Rule 76 (6) was designed and adopted. Wisconsin Democrats thus have good ground for throwing out last night’s vote.

ERIC JOHNSON-DeBAUFRE is a visiting lecturer at Boston University and an occasional contributor to CounterPunch.

Assembly Rule 76. Voting. http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll/?f=templates$fn=default.htm

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring
March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect