The head of the state Government Accountability Board says the agency delayed posting recall petitions online earlier this week because officials felt it should evaluate privacy issues before putting them out there for the world to see.
The GAB posted the petitions online Tuesday; a day later than staff had originally said they would be up. In an interview with WisconsinEye, agency director Kevin Kennedy says the delay was because of concerns raised by domestic violence victims, who worried it could make it easier for their old attackers to find them. Kennedy says other concerns about identity theft and petition signatures being used to harass signers did not play a major role in the decision to hold off on releasing the documents.
After weighing the issues, Kennedy says staff saw no reason to remove any names from the petitions because, in the end, they are public documents. Kennedy says “there’s a strong presumption of openness for all government documents,” and officials decided to treat the petitions against Governor Walker as no different that petitions targeting four Republican state senators that were already posted online.
Kennedy says the public is clearly interested in viewing the signatures. On Wednesday alone, the GAB website had over 21,000 visitors. A normal day sees only about 2,000. Since last Friday, a website set up for viewing all of the recall petitions has registered nearly three million page views.
Those looking for names on the petitions should be wary though. The over 153,000 pages are only available right now as unsearchable PDF files. Kennedy says it is still not known if a searchable database will eventually be made availble online.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:04)