No Recourse for Known Recall Petition Irregularities?

While it pains me to say it, the Walkerbots might have a point on the verification process.  There is a shortcoming in the language of the recall law that should at least be discussed.

The law, as written, affords no third-party groups or individuals a seat at the recall verification table.  The law is quite clear.

(9.10(3)(b)): Within 10 days after the petition is offered for filing, the officer against whom the petition is filed may file a written challenge with the official, specifying any alleged insufficiency.

Only the “officer against whom the petition is filed” may challenge the insufficiency of the recall signatures.   This means that only Scott Walker or his direct agents may challenge signatures.  To be fair, this is a limit that is imposed on all officials, we’re not singling out Scott Walker or the other targets of recall this time around for special treatment.  Nor am I advocating changing the law in the middle of the process.  But I do believe that the legislature needs to take up the issue of who should be allowed to challenge signatures.

Where does this leave the individual voter who knows their signature appeared on the recall but knows she did not sign it?  It seems to me that this is a serious shortcoming in the way the law is written.

So let me as you all, what do you think?

[poll id=”20″]


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18 thoughts on “No Recourse for Known Recall Petition Irregularities?

  1. As Ed Fallone points out, this isn’t as simple as it appears at first blush:

    – The parameters of suspicion are very slippery. Do we allow challenges against names because they sound funny (the minions at MJS had a lot of fun with ‘Raymond Rasberry’) or are shared with celebrities? In the absence of an official state database of eligible electors, which sources for verification of identity and addresses do we deem official?

    – Every additional challenge puts a resource burden on petitioners, who are already at a disadvantage because of the campaign fundraising loophole. What’s to stop nefarious actors from flooding the GAB and petitioners with bogus challenges?

    – Every additional challenge strains the timeliness of the process (which again is already weighted in favor of the incumbent), which according to the Court of Appeals runs contrary to the constitutional right of recall.

  2. To me, this is a non-problem. Third parties can present their concerns/information to the officer against whom the petition is filed, who may then make use of it in a challenge.

  3. As Kevin Kennedy pointed out yesterday this is like a court of law. You cant just have random people running into court with “new evidence”.

    If someone feels they were wronged in this instance they need to take it to scott walkers campaign and its up to them to address it if he truly represents them

    There are some tweeks needed…this is not one of them.

  4. All suspicions should be filtered THROUGH the potential recallee and his/her organization. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me given the ability to raise unlimited cash. If these third-party groups have concerns, hand ’em over to Walker.

    1. I think the issue with some organizations handing the petitions over is that it violates their tax exempt status, to which I say “tough nookies.” But it does mean that ostensibly non-partisan groups on either side have no voice in the process, nor can they question any signature but their own.

    2. All suspicions should be filtered THROUGH the potential recallee and his/her organization.

      That may well be the most appropriate – or at least most expedient – way to handle it in terms of carrying out the recall process.

      But it also requires a “either for us or against us” false dichotomy. There are plenty of people – and I’d consider myself one of them – that neither support the recall nor wish to be affiliated with Walker. The rights of the individual should have no bearing? What of cases where the subject of the recall doesn’t bother to dispute any of the petitions?

      I will grant that such cases of fraud are likely quite rare. And as well, it’s hard to imagine the harm done could be considered particularly egregious. Yet a mechanism needs to be in place to handle this.

      Perhaps, a civil suit is enough – though I don’t know that one should be required to pay for it. Perhaps, the language on the petitions themselves is adequate to make the circulator the responsible party:

      I know the signers are electors of the jurisdiction or district represented by the officeholder named in the petition…I know that each person signed the paper with full knowledge of it’s content…I know their respective residences given.

  5. Just to expand on the point I was making above, the statutory framework is built around a constitutional right and other choices made by the legislature and thereby the public (i.e., how much funding we’re willing to give the GAB). You can’t change the statute without it impacting the rest of that framework.

    It’s not dissimilar to Voter ID. There’s no evidence that the process is in danger of being swayed by widespread fraud, or that the current mechanism is insufficient for detecting that danger. It’s apparent that the only risk to public confidence in the process are the self-serving interests looking to discredit it.

    To my mind, the only way you could constitutionally re-balance the process after opening it up to infinite challenge would be to provide enough resources to make validation accurate and efficient. And I highly doubt the critics are ready to put their money where their mouths are.

    1. the statutory framework is built around a constitutional right and other choices made by the legislature and thereby the public (i.e., how much funding we’re willing to give the GAB). You can’t change the statute without it impacting the rest of that framework.

      I guess I’m not sure I agree with this. The question isn’t a quantitative one, but qualitative. If an individual has no recourse to add or remove his or her signature from a list of signatures on the basis of fraud, haven’t you effectively disenfranchised (or falsely enfranchised) that signatory? What recourse do they have?

      Suppose it’s an affirmative process, you sign to agree to implement policy X. But if you don’t want to implement policy X, and someone signs your name, falsely, what do you do? The politician who is driving policy X would have no reason to give you recourse to remove your name. Shouldn’t there be some non-partisan process to remove your name from the list? (I’m trying not to make a slippery slope argument here so bear with me!)

      A better process needs to be built using modern technology to handle this…

      1. “haven’t you effectively disenfranchised (or falsely enfranchised) that signatory?”

        Again, it’s a balancing act. Unless you restructure the process and have a mechanism to do verifications extraordinarily quickly and prevent abuse by organized efforts to jam the system with illegitimate claims, allowing individual challenges is going to slow up the process beyond the statutorily defined boundaries. We’re already seeing this happen. Those boundaries, in turn, are determined by the (constitutional, according to the Court of Appeals) right of recall petitioners to expediency.

        We heard the argument about disenfranchisement in regard to Voter ID as well (i.e., the fraudsters are pushing out legitimate voters by impersonating them). But no proponent I talked to was willing to support what was necessary to protect the rights of their fellow citizens, like putting an ID in the hands of every eligible voter.

        If we want a perfect system, we have three choices: 1) pay for it, 2) nix the right of recall from the state constitution, or 3) take it to court and have Michael Gableman perform surgery on our rights.

  6. The first step would be to get someone at the GAB with half a brain. They make stupid comments about accepting Bugs Bunny and Hitler, and then give people no recourse if someone else signed them up.
    What are these fools paid to do? the recall statute can stay the same someone just needs to come up with guidelines for how to properly administer the situation.
    They ought to do it now, because with the recall door having been opened, we can expect more.

    1. Where in the statute is the GAB granted this authority?

      The GOP has been on a jihad against administrative discretion for a year, and now the GAB is supposed to suddenly start making up laws?

  7. love the double standard displayed by your survey, Phil. 68% say no individual should be able to challenge a signature on a recall petition. These are the same people who SCREAM “disenfranchise! disenfranchise!” when it involves a democrat.

  8. Friends of Scott Walker presented a version of the disenfranchisement argument before the Hon. Judge Mac Davis – no better friend of Scott Walker than he – and failed to convince him. So… good luck with that.

  9. Breaking: After weeks of huffing and puffing, zero claims of “disenfranchisement” – people written in against their will – from Scott Fitzgerald camp in GAB filing.

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