The recall of embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, took an unexpected turn earlier last week. The official deadline for Gov. Walker to challenge signatures on the recall petition came and went on Monday, February 27. Although Gov. Walker did turn in a written statement to challenge the petitions on Monday the 27th, there are no challenges of the actual signatures in this four page document. In Wisconsin it is the officeholders responsibility to challenge any of the signatures that are on his or her’s recall petitions. Gov. Walker is attempting to place that responsibility on the Government Accountability Board (GAB) and outside third party organizations.
In the sworn written challenge that Gov. Walker turned into the GAB: “As a result of this challenge deadline, representatives of Gov. Walker have been unable to complete a verification of the required minimum of 540,208 signatures. In fact, to this point, representatives of Gov. Walker had been able to minimally review and verify only 350,000 signatures.” In a phone call, Ciara Matthews, Walker’s campaign spokeswoman said: “We think that the Government Accountability Board should follow Judge Davis’s ruling that it is the GAB’s responsibility to strike duplicate and fraudulent names off of the petitions.”
By law in Wisconsin, the governor originally had 10 days to challenge the recall petitions, but with the extremely high number of signatures turned in, the governor was granted an additional 20 days to challenge the signatures. Scott Walker’s campaign spokeswoman, Ciara Matthews, told this reporter: “We asked for an additional two weeks from the County Circuit Court, but we were denied.”
Late last week, the GAB went to the court to ask for their own extension of the recall deadline. In a phone call, Reid Magney, the spokesman for the GAB said: “The law requires careful review of the whole petition. This means that we have to verify all of the over 1 million signatures on the petition, not just the number needed for a recall. If the court grants the extension, it will give us time to do a careful examination of the petitions. There is also a scheduling issue, with a potential recall election happening the day after Memorial Day.”
Matthews acknowledged that: “We found approximately 10 to 20% of the signatures had errors, but we did not officially file them with the GAB.” Even if the GAB struck 25% of the million signatures on the petitions to recall Gov. Walker, there would still be a quarter of a million signatures above the threshold to recall the governor.
In an e-mail, Graeme Zelinski, the spokesman for the Democrat Party of Wisconsin, wrote: “The election should happen as soon as possible. An election has been called for by 1 million strong. The governor is trying to stall the recall because he knows what we know, that if an election were held today, he would lose.”
The other issue that is somewhat problematic, is the issue of so-called ‘third-party’ challenges. Both Matthews and Magney agree that the law allows only the officeholder to make challenges to the recall petition. Ciara Matthews said: “The GAB is not allowed to officially accept challenges from anyone but the candidate. We want the Government Acountability Board to draw a legal distinction between an ‘official challenge’ and ‘red flags’ from third parties. We want them to take under advisement, problem signatures that either individuals or third party organizations find. We are basing this on the fact, that right now, an individual can go online, and if they have not signed the petition, they can contact the GAB to have their name removed.”
Graeme Zelinski was asked if the GAB should allow ‘third-party’ challengers, and he said: “Absolutely not. Why aren’t the rules good enough for Scott Walker? His camp is constantly trying to rewrite the rules, midstream, even though he has acknowledged that there are enough signatures, and that there will be a recall election, and that he wants to have one as soon as possible. Walker has tons of money, three times the time required by statute and a supposed army of voluteers and totally failed to stop his recall.”
Everyone involed in this situation agrees that a recall of Govenor Scott Walker will happen, the question is when.