A judge in Wisconsin threw a curveball Thursday evening into the recall campaign targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker, ruling that state election officials must make a greater effort to screen out fake or duplicate petition signatures — rather than abide by the pre-existing rules, which have placed more of the burden on the Walker campaign.
The state GOP’s lawsuit filed in mid-December against the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, claims that Walker’s 14th Amendment rights of Equal Protection are violated by putting a burden on his campaign to review and challenge petition signatures within a ten-day period. Instead, they say, the GAB must thoroughly search for and directly strike out duplicate signatures, and invalid names and addresses.
The Associated Press reports:
Adding in signatures for several other Republicans targeted for recall, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, the board could be looking at 1.5 million signatures, GAB director Kevin Kennedy said.
Kennedy testified that his staff has looked into the option of creating a database and entering names by hand, a process that could take eight weeks. Hiring a vendor whose software could read information from scanned petitions could speed the effort but cost about $94,000, he said.
After the hearing, Kennedy said the agency would review the decision and figure out the best way to comply. He also said he plans to ask the Legislature for additional money, enough to cover about $650,000 in initial cost estimates plus anything further as a result of Thursday’s ruling.
Davis also said that the Equal Protection argument “has merit,” but confined his ruling to construction of the relevant state laws. (This was probably a good idea — when a state judge hands down a ruling based on the U.S. Constitution, this leaves the ruling open to potential appeal in federal court.)
TPM asked the GAB what measures will be taken to comply with the decision, and also whether this could have the effect of delaying the recall election, assuming that organizers have successfully collected the signatures.
“The only comment we have at this time is that the Government Accountability Board will take all steps necessary to implement the court’s order,” staff counsel Michael Haas responded. The Wisconsin GOP released a victorious statement from executive director Stephan Thompson.
The Wisconsin GOP released a victorious statement from executive director Stephan Thompson.
Full Article: Wis. Judge Rules For GOP On Recall Procedures | TPMDC.