Groups vow to start Walker recall signature collection in November; Walker pushes presidential primary back to April
Post by Emily Mills on 10/4/2011 9:50am
Despite continued debate statewide between left-leaning groups to determine the start date of a recall signature collection campaign, several grassroots organizations in Wisconsin have said they will begin circulating petitions for signatures to trigger a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker at the earliest possible date: November 5 of this year.
Organizations like Grassroots People to Recall Governor Walker, which formed out of the group that worked to see Sen. Randy Hopper recalled in his district this summer, have made it clear from the outset that a Nov. 5 start date was their intention. "Some people may not agree with our timing, but that’s just the way it’s going to be. We know what our membership wants," said Scott Dillman, one of the founders of GPRGW.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Mike Tate and other large organizing groups like United Wisconsin have since distanced themselves slightly from that position, simply emphasizing, as Tate said via a statement back in July, that "the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will be committed to listening to the people when it comes to the recall of Scott Walker in 2012." Meanwhile, there has been considerable discussion of waiting until the new year to start the signature collection, in the hopes of having the recall election scheduled for the same day as the November presidential election.
The issue has been further complicated by the recent move to push back Wisconsin's presidential primary date to coincide with the spring general election in April.
Recall petitioners have just 60 days after pulling papers to collect the necessary amount of signatures to trigger a recall - in this case, 540,208, though campaigns usually aim for a much higher number to account for any potential losses due to challenges to signatures.
If a group is able to collect enough signatures within that 60 day time period, the Government Accountability Board (GAB) then has 31 days to certify the recall petitions. Due to the unprecedented number of recall efforts over the summer, the GAB was forced to apply for an extension in order to complete the work. A campaign seeking anywhere from just over half-a-million to a million signers would likely result in a similar, if not bigger backlog of work, though the GAB has said it would hire extra workers to finish the certification in the time allotted if a gubernatorial recall required it.
Once all of the verification work is done, and all challenges to the signatures are ruled on, the recall election would have to be scheduled for the Tuesday of the sixth week after the signatures are certified. Since the earliest these petitions could be offered for filing is January 3, 2012, it's entirely likely that the earliest possible date for an election would land on March 27 - putting it within striking distance of being scheduled for the same date as the spring general election/presidential primary.
(See the full recall manual at the GAB website here - .pdf)
Other concerns expressed about the timing of a recall effort revolve around the difficulty of collecting signatures over the holidays or during bad winter weather. Dillman is optimistic, however, that the required signatures could be gathered in "a couple of weeks," avoiding the holidays all together.
"If we push the recall back into summer then the weather, and people's vacations, start to seriously effect participation," Dillman explains. "The passion is still there from the spring and the summer recalls; we need to strike while the iron's hot...Republican strategists aren’t stupid--they know he’s going to face recall at some point, so if a legitimate group doesn’t file a recall petition, what’s to stop a fake group out of Utah from doing it and then not turning in the signatures?"
That fear--that front groups will collect signatures under the guise of a real recall effort and then simply not turn them in to the GAB--is widely expressed on Facebook groups and other social media where anti-Walker activists gather to discuss strategy.
Also cause for concern among these circles are changes to administrative rule making currently being pushed through the Legislature that would give Gov. Walker more say over how petitions may be circulated, as well as what kinds of student IDs would be valid for voting under the new law.
Republicans do seem to have conceded that a recall against Walker is all-but inevitable. The governor's chief of staff Keith Gilkes last week announced that he would be leaving the $112,000 a year position to go back to his work as a political consultant. Gilkes has openly said that he wants to be ready to help Walker in the event of a recall, though there is also some speculation that the resignation may also have something to do with the unfolding John Doe investigation.
CORRECTION NOTE: The article originally listed the time allotted the GAB to certifiy signatures as 30 days, when it is, in fact, 31. It also indicated that the move to push the spring primary date back to April was a decision of Gov. Walker's, when it was, in fact, bi-partisan. The author and dane101 regret these errors.
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at