GAB Unsure Of Timeline For Possible Walker Recall Election

Wisconsin’s chief elections official said on Tuesday that he doesn’t know how long it will take to review roughly 1.9 million signatures that have been submitted to recall Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republican lawmakers.

READ: Republican Legislators Also Targeted In Recall Effort|READ: Recall Moves Forward Without Obvious Walker Challenger

The law requires the review to be done in 31 days, but Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said Tuesday it will take longer than that.

Kennedy said the board will go to court soon to seek the delay and ask that all six elections be held on the same day.

“We’ve dealt with a large number of petitions in 2011, but this is likely 10 times as much work,” Kennedy said.

Democrats who spearheaded the recall said that the review should be done as quickly as possible.

Kennedy said it will take several days just to scan in the signatures for the review. The petitions will be posted on the GAB website once they are scanned.

The GAB estimated the cost for a statewide recall election at $9 million.

Once all the petitions are counted, the board must certify an election, which would be held six weeks after it is certified by the board. If a primary is needed, that would be held first, then a general election four weeks after the primary.

Kennedy said it will take several days just to scan in the signatures for the review. The petitions will be taken to an undisclosed location for review by some 30 workers hired by the GAB, and the petitions will be posted on the GAB website once they are scanned. The GAB will have a webcam set up at the petition center this week for the public to view the effort. To view the webcam, click here.

As a result, an election might not happen until June or later.

Organizers Call Recall ‘Incredible’

Organizers needed more 540,000 signatures for each to force the recall election. Besides Walker, they said they turned in about 305,000 more signatures than needed to force a recall election of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. They said that they brought more than 3,000 pounds of papers to turn in.

Recall organizers said collecting a million names, addresses and signatures in 60 days for a recall is unprecedented in Wisconsin.

“What we have accomplished is incredible. This is one of the greatest exercises of democracy in American history,” said Ryan Lawler, of United Wisconsin.

Volunteers said the total number of signatures submitted should put a recall election for Walker beyond question.

“My response to (Walker) is let’s go have this election. You have said we’re going to get these signatures. You’re going to need to disqualify almost one out of every three signatures we hand in; it is simply not going to happen,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Petitions Turned In On Tuesday

On Tuesday, recall circulators lined up around a U-Haul truck filled with boxes of petition signatures. They later brought them into the office of the state elections board — the Government Accountability Board — located near the state Capitol. Volunteers formed a line leading to the office as others marched inside with the boxes covered in blue tape.

Additional petition signatures were also filed to force recall elections for Kleefisch and four Republican senators, including the Republican leader in the state Senate. (Read more about other recall efforts)

The recall effort was spurred by anger over Walker’s moves his first year in office, particularly his fight against public sector unions. Much of the uproar focused on legislation pushed by the governor last year that ended nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

The opposition to the measure started with massive protests in February and March of 2011 and then grew into organized campaigns first to recall state senators and then Walker himself. The formal signature drive against the governor started two months ago.

Recalls Are Rare In American Politics

The recall of a sitting governor is a political rarity in American history. There have been just two successful gubernatorial recalls in the nation’s history — against California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

However, recalls have become common in Wisconsin since the political tumult of 2011. Last summer, six Republican state senators and three Democrats faced recall elections. Two Republicans lost, leaving the party with a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate.

The Walker recall couldn’t officially be filed until after he had served a year in office, an anniversary that was hit earlier this month.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.