Secretary of State of Wisconsin
|Secretary of State of Wisconsin|
Seal of the Executive Branch
|Seat||Wisconsin State Capitol|
|Term length||Four years, no term limits|
|Constituting instrument||Wisconsin Constitution of 1848, Article VI|
|Inaugural holder||Thomas McHugh|
|Formation||June 7, 1848|
The secretary of state of Wisconsin is a constitutional officer in the executive branch of the government of the U.S. state of Wisconsin, and is second (behind the lieutenant governor) in the line of succession to the office of Governor of Wisconsin. Twenty-eight individuals have held the office of Secretary of State, two of whom have held non-consecutive terms. The incumbent is Doug La Follette, a Democrat first elected for a single four-year term in 1974 and reelected since 1982.
Election and term of office
The secretary of state is elected on Election Day in November, and takes office on the first Monday of the next January. Originally, the secretary of state's term lasted for two years; since a 1967 amendment, however, the term has lasted four years. There is no limit to the number of terms a Secretary of State may hold.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of the secretary of state, the governor may appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of the term; this has occurred twice: upon the death of Fred R. Zimmerman, Louis Allis was appointed to fill the remainder of the term, and Glenn Wise was appointed to fill the entire of the next term to which Zimmerman had been elected.
The secretary of state may be removed from office through an impeachment trial. They may also choose to resign from office. No Secretary of State has ever been impeached, and none have resigned.
Powers and duties
The secretary of state exercises an array of both constitutional and statutory powers and duties that broadly concern the registration and safekeeping of public records. The secretary of state is charged by Article VI, Section 2 of the state constitution to keep “a fair record of the official acts of the legislature and executive department of the state,” and when required, is directed to “lay the same and all matters relative thereto before either branch of the legislature.” It is likewise the duty of the secretary of state pursuant to Article XIII, Section 4 to keep the Great Seal of the state as provided by the Wisconsin Legislature, “and all official acts of the governor, his approbation of the laws excepted, shall be thereby authenticated.” This constitutional duty is carried into effect via the statutory provision directing the secretary of state to "affix the great seal to and countersign all commissions issued and other official acts done by the governor, the governor's approbation of the laws excepted; and make a register of such commissions in a book provided by the governor therefor, specifying the person to whom issued, the office conferred, and the date and term of the commission." With the state treasurer and attorney general, the secretary of state is a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands created by Article X, Section 7 of the state constitution, which is responsible “for the sale of the school and university lands and for the investment of the funds arising therefrom.”
All other functions of the secretary of state are conferred by law. Among his or her 100 or so statutory duties, the secretary of state is responsible for filing oaths of office and deeds for state lands; for issuing apostilles and notary authentications; for compiling and preserving the original copies of laws and resolutions; for the safekeeping of all enrolled laws and resolutions; and for “the custody of all books, records, deeds, bonds, parchments, maps, papers and other articles and effects belonging to the state, deposited or kept in the secretary of state's office, and make such provision for the arrangement and preservation thereof as is necessary, and keep the same, together with all accounts and transactions of the office open at all times to the inspection and examination of the governor or any committee of either or both houses of the legislature.” Likewise, the secretary of state receives and files the signature and an impression of the official seal of the county clerks and registers of deeds in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties, maintains a record of all appointments in each legislative, executive and judicial state agency, and receives, preserves and makes available for inspection all conveyances, abstracts of title, options and leases of public land; and, unless otherwise directed by law, all bonds, mortgages and other securities, for money, for which the State of Wisconsin is a party.
The secretary of state is second in the order of succession to the office of the governor of Wisconsin; under the current terms of the constitution, if the governor dies, resigns or is removed from office and the office of the lieutenant governor is vacant, the secretary of state becomes governor, whereas in the vacancy of the lieutenant governorship and the absence from the state, impeachment or inability to serve due to illness, the secretary of state merely becomes acting governor. These terms came into effect with an amendment to the constitution in 1979; originally, in all of these events, the secretary of state simply became acting governor. While Secretaries of State have at times briefly acted as governor, none have ever become governor, or acted as governor in circumstances that would have caused them to become governor had the 1979 amendment been in effect at the time.
- Salaries of Wisconsin State Elected Officials (PDF) (Report). Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. 2019. p. 2. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
- "Wisconsin Constitution" (PDF). Wisconsin Legislature. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2007). "Chapter 8: Statistical Information on Wisconsin" (PDF). State of Wisconsin 2007–2008 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. pp. 721–722. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2007). "Chapter 3: Wisconsin Constitution (Article XIII)" (PDF). State of Wisconsin 2007–2008 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. p. 234. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2007). "Chapter 3: Wisconsin Constitution (Article VI)" (PDF). State of Wisconsin 2007–2008 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. pp. 215–216. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2007). "Chapter 3: Wisconsin Constitution (Article VII)". State of Wisconsin 2007–2008 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. p. 218. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, ed. (2007). "Chapter 3: Wisconsin Constitution (Article V)". State of Wisconsin 2007–2008 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization. p. 214. Retrieved May 9, 2018.