Staff editorial (Feb. 9, 2011)

Story by The Spectator Staff

A recent article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals had overturned a judges order for state election officials to be more aggressive in the ways they root out fake or false signatures on recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker.

With over one million signatures — almost double as was needed — Democrats and others involved with the recall effort were more than successful in getting past the petition stage of a recall.  Currently, the signatures on petitions are being vetted by the Government Accountability Board to rid any fraudulent or duplicate signatures.

Walker’s campaign had sued the GAB in December, accusing them of not being aggressive enough in tossing fraudulent signatures.

They wanted the GAB to take more action and be more vigilant in rooting out the signatures. Judge Mac Davis ruled along with this idea in early January, though he gave few specifics as to how state officials could be more aggressive.

Nevertheless, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals overturned the order and the signatures are currently being looked over with the same vigor as before.

The editorial board found the Republicans ideas to be a bit excessive in trying to delete what would have to be over half of the one million signatures on the petitions.  It’s just not likely enough that so many signatures would be fraudulent to use the time and the funds to be so unrealistically thorough on the vetting process.

It seems that the Republicans are just trying to be stubborn and difficult, though the editorial board found it easy  to understand why the Republicans would want to act this way.  After all, a recall isn’t something to lightly brush over.  But that doesn’t mean that the rules and regulations that are already in place for the vetting process aren’t sturdy.

It’s important to root out the names that are duplicates and fakes, but at what point does it come down to unintentionally deleting signatures that are real?

The article used the hypothetical example of a John Smith and a John Smith Jr. who live at the same address.  If they both sign their names on separate petitions as “John Smith,” that could lead to legitimate signatures being tossed and that’s not an ideal solution either.

Members of the editorial board found it ironic that the Republicans who usually try to save money are pushing for prolonging this process and thereby spending more money.  Why, all of a sudden, would they think the recall process needs revision now, of all times?

This process reminded some members of the editorial board of the voter ID regulation push last year.  In that case, Republicans pushed for new regulation that would disenfranchise some eligible voters, many in demographics that typically vote Democratic.  Some saw it as an underhanded tactic to rein in Republican votes.

The editorial board made sure to mention that both parties are definitely guilty of trying underhanded techniques to get their way, which the board found very unfortunate in today’s political climate.

This is another disappointing extension of that.


Should the GAB be as aggressive as is suggested by Republicans about rooting out fake petition signatures?

Yes: 1

No: 7

Ab: 0