The state Government Accountability Board will have hundreds of thousands of signatures to sort through as the recall process against Governor Scott Walker moves forward, but challenging those signatures will be largely up to Walker and other officeholders being recalled. “If we note a duplicate signature, we can strike it,” says David Buerger, co-leader of the GAB’s recall team. “However, there is no process in our review that is specifically intended to catch duplicate signatures.”
What about the Milwaukee man who’s claimed he signed the recall petition more than eighty times? “We’ve had these kind of claims before,” noted GAB Director Kevin Kennedy, who mentioned a Marquette University student who claimed he’d voted several times. Subsequent investigation indicated he may not have made it to the polls at all. “The process builds in a place that puts it on the officeholder to address that.” Kennedy said the man who claims to have signed the recall has been identified.
As for fictitious names, those will be struck by GAB staff only if there’s an obviously fictitious address. “In the last round of recalls . . . there was a person who signed Adolph Hitler’s name to a petition,” says Buerger. “They gave a Berlin, Germany address, so we struck it on that basis.” Seemingly fictitious names will be flagged by GAB staff, but as in the case of duplicative challenges, it will be up to officeholders to challenge them. For the statewide recall against Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin addresses will be adequate. GAB staff will check to see that addresses on petitions against the second round of state Senators facing recall are from the correct districts.
The GAB on Tuesday approved security processes that will be in place when the recall petitions against Walker are submitted. The deadline for that is January 17th. Buerger, asked whether members of the public will be allowed to observe the process of certifying recall petitions, says that determination has not been made yet. “We would like to keep it as open as possible. The location really sets our constraints as far as what we could or couldn’t allow.” There may be live web-stream of the process. GAB is still in the process of finding a temporary location for that recall work, and finalizing training requirements for additional temporary staff who will be hired. Recall team co-leader Katie Mueller says they’ll be closely supervised. “Temporary staff will never be left alone with petitions,” she says. “And we are working on, and making sure we maintain, a chain of custody log.” Mueller says petitions will be kept in locked filing cabinets.
Buerger doesn’t anticipate a need for extra security at the recount site, although that has been considered. “Once we have settled on a location, I’m sure we’ll have another conversation with Capitol Police.”