A judge in Dane County has virtually doubled the amount of time the state Government Accountability Board will have to review recall petitions targeting the governor, lieutenant governor, and four Republican state senators. Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess says giving the GAB 61 days to scan and check signatures is reasonable, and will only help to ensure the public that the petitions are valid.
Niess on Wednesday morning agreed to give the agency an extra 31 days to scan petitions and check them for duplicate or fake signatures. The GAB argued more time was needed to go through the estimated 1.9 million signatures turned in to the agency last week.
The judge also agreed to give more time to the campaigns of those targeted by recalls, so they can check petitions and file any challenges against signatures. The ruling gives Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch 30 days to do their own petition checks and the campaigns of four Republican state Senators an additional 10 days. Normally, those campaigns would each have only 10 days to challenge signatures.
Judge Niess says a time extension seems reasonable because of the massive undertaking the GAB is currently facing. However, he cautioned attorneys that his decision is not meant to open the door to additional delays in the process. If enough valid signatures were turned in, Niess says elections will be held and will “not be delayed unreasonably.”
Unless more time is requested or the campaigns file lawsuits, the extensions will likely have the GAB certifying the petitions sometime in mid-March. If a Democratic primary is held, the actual recall elections would then take place about 10 weeks later.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:15)