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Proponents of the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (r) have collected over 500,000 signatures toward their goal of 720,000 to initiate a recall election.

Opposing viewpoints on the steps of the Middleton, Wisconsin City Hall.

We spoke with a volunteer gathering recall petition signatures in Middleton, Wisconsin:

Show Me Progress: How long, how long have you been out here collecting petitions [signatures]?

Sharon Nash: Well, since, since this all started on the fifteenth I’ve been out, um, pretty much every day [laugh].

Show Me Progress: Is this, is this [crosstalk]…

Sharon Nash:  Except for Thursdays and Fridays.

Show Me Progress: Is this like, are you talking, like, uh, fifteenth of November, when you started?

Sharon Nash:  Yeah, I’m part of the Middleton Action Group which in Middleton is, um, working on the, the recall.

Show Me Progress: And, so what’s been, what been your response so far?

Sharon Nash:  What’s been my response as far as?

Show Me Progress: Meaning the, the response that people have been[crosstalk]…

Sharon Nash, collecting recall petition signatures outside of the Middleton, Wisconsin City Hall.

Sharon Nash:  Oh, well, the, the petition signers are wonderful [laugh]. And, and, uh, we’ve had people, you know, stop and bring us tea and hot coffee when we’ve been out on the street doing drive throughs or, you know, collecting petitions that way. We’ve been in different parts of the city, um, on different days now. We’re in front of city hall today because it’s, uh, property tax, uh, paying time, and so [laugh][crosstalk]…

Show Me Progress: It’s a[crosstalk]…

Sharon Nash:  People are paying their property taxes, so [crosstalk], people coming up.

Show Me Progress: So that’s where the traffic is, yeah.

Sharon Nash:  Yeah, and the library’s been good. The post office has been good. Uh, around Costco, um, my husband and I will do on the weekends. And, uh, we get a lot of, uh, lot of thumbs up from supporters [laugh] of, of the recall. And the supporters of [Governor Scott] Walker [r] are, um, [pause], uh, some of them will just say a polite no. And others will be really nasty [laugh]. [crosstalk][inaudible]

Show Me Progress: Yeah, but , have you, have you ever felt, um, that anybody would, would  get out of control at any time?

Sharon Nash:  Um, you know, it gives you pause as you’re standing on the street corner or, um, when some people will come up to you and just unload lots of profanity, kinda. But, you just have to kinda, just turn, and turn away and not engage.

Show Me Progress: Um, so, what, what makes you come out here, all these days, and do this?

Sharon Nash:  Uh, I’m just upset that our, our Democracy has been taken away from us. I was, uh, took part in a lot of the demonstrations in February, March, April, and then the recall elections, uh, for the senators. And, uh, it was a really, the, the protests at the capitol were just really profound. Uh, it was, it really affected me deeply as far as seeing all these people gather together with such passion. And, uh, and what he, Walker was doing to the state was just horrifying as far as, uh, the collective bargaining. And Wisconsin has been known for, for its, um, support and the beginnings of the, the unions here. So, uh, the history has just been rich, uh, with support for working families and workers. And, and, uh, to see it all disappear within a few short months of Walker getting in, and the other tea party, um, people that got in on, uh. Uh, I think, I think it was  a kind of a rigged, the money that was put into it was, um, totally distorted what the, what the issues were and, uh, um, I think people didn’t really have enough information about what these tea party people were really all about and what they were gonna do. And they had no idea about, uh, uh, what American for Prosperity was all about and the Koch brothers and ALEC, American, American Legislative Exchange Commission [Council] . Uh, people have no idea that’s where this legislation came from, you know. And so it wasn’t legislation that was coming from people in Wisconsin. It was bought and paid for ALEC. [laugh] And so, uh, that, and it’s not only about the, the, uh, collective bargaining, it’s about the relaxing of, of environmental regulations, it’s, um, the slashing of the budgets in, in education, it’s, um, about the, uh, voter suppression, um, which is the [crosstalk] voter ID.

Show Me Progress: Voter ID, yeah.

Sharon Nash:  Which is really, uh, for how that, the education budgets and the voter ID thing, how that affects the rural areas is just horrifying.  And, um, and, and the young, the students, and the, uh, the senior citizens, you know, who can’t get out or don’t have access, have no idea how this is going to affect them and, and how they’re gonna show up at the polls and not gonna be able to vote.

One of the many recall bumper stickers in Madison, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Governor Walker’s campaign filed a lawsuit, citing the 14th Amendment.

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees recall elections, issued a statement a few days ago.

Statement on Recall Petition Verification

Date: December 14, 2011

MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board issued the following statement by Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy regarding news media reports about how the Board will handle potentially fictitious names on recall petitions:

Comments made at our Board meeting Tuesday by elections specialists have been taken out of context.  They were answering questions about one aspect of the petition verification process.  Wisconsin’s recall petition process is designed with multiple checks and balances provided by the non-partisan G.A.B., as well as the competing partisan interests of the recall committee and the incumbent officeholder.  These competing interests ensure that ineligible signers, duplicate signatures and fake names get weeded out.  Focusing on any one aspect of the process in isolation misses the forest for a few trees.

The recall process starts at the grassroots level with petition circulators. They personally obtain each signature on the page and are responsible for striking any signature that does not match the name given to them by the person signing the petition.  These circulators sign each petition page stating that they understand that falsifying the certification is a punishable offense under state law, which is a felony.

The Board understands that the recall committees are doing their own quality control prior to filing petitions in January, involving hand-entering names from each petition page into a database that will allow them to identify duplicate signatures and fake names.  It is in the recall committees’ interests to do this to build their own mailing lists, as well as to help ensure that the petitions they file with the G.A.B. will stand up to the scrutiny of challenges.

Wisconsin law requires the G.A.B. to presume that petition signatures are valid, which means that the staff cannot automatically strike names that might appear to be fake.  That level of review would require a change in law as well as much greater resources than are available or practical.  However, the G.A.B. staff and temporary workers reviewing the petitions w
ill be flagging apparently fictitious names for review by higher-level staff.

At the same time G.A.B. is conducting its review, the incumbent officeholders’ committees will be reviewing copies of the petitions as part of the challenge process.  If and when the incumbents’ committees submit challenges to individual signatures, the G.A.B. staff must evaluate each signature and the documentation provided by the challenger, and may use outside sources such as voter registration lists and telephone directories to determine the validity of signatures.  The Government Accountability Board members will then vote on all the challenges at a public meeting to determine whether the petition has a sufficient number of signatures to trigger a recall election.  Additionally, both the petitioner and the incumbent officeholder have the ability to appeal the Board’s decision to the circuit court.

The right of Wisconsin residents to recall elected officials is guaranteed in the Wisconsin Constitution, and the laws of this state spell out the process by which that can happen.  These laws can seem complicated.  The process for any recall petition review will be consistent with the rules that were in place for both parties in the 2011 recall elections.  In reviewing approximately 215,000 signatures as part of the 2011 recalls, only a handful of signatures were successfully challenged on the basis that the name was fictitious or of a deceased individual.  

A homemade sign in support of Governor Scott Walker (r) along U.S. Highway 151 in southwestern Wisconsin.

You’d think with all that cash raised from big money interests that Governor Walker could afford nicer signs.

That’s over a half a million signatures. It ain’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

Previously:

Voices of Organized Labor in Jefferson City on February 26, 2011 (February 27, 2011)

Wisconsin: “Thank God for Missouri…” (April 21, 2011)

St. Louis: Jefferson Jackson Dinner – Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor (D) (June 19, 2011)