Friday, November 18, 2011

GAB has Concern over Recall Petition Fraud

 Kevin Kennedy, Director of Wisconsin's Government
Accountability Board

Well before the current recall petition drive kicked off, I had concern over conservative "trolls" circulating recall petitions and then tearing them up. We already have seen some evidence of fraud with respect to the GOP supporter who filed as a recall committee eleven days before the official petition effort was started at 12:01 AM on Tuesday by A United Wisconsin.  While this person may have registered just to trigger an early start to the campaign financing solicitations by the governor, it might have lead to petitions being circulated that were never intended to be filed with the Government Accountability Board (GAB).

The GAB is also concerned about this kind of misconduct.  It issued a statement today reminding citizens that it is a crime to act fraudulently with respect to the circulation of a recall petition.  It is a Class I felony to destroy a recall petition or engage in fraud with respect to a recall petition.  The penalty is potentially  3 and a half years incarceration and a $10,000 fine.   It is worth reading the statement from the GAB, which is linked above.

I have not yet signed a petition, but when I do, I intend to ask the circulator to show me a Wisconsin driver's license and tell me the organization he is circulating for, so that if I care to (and I probably won't), I can try to confirm that a petition with my name made its way to the GAB.  If someone is reluctant to comply with such a step, then I probably won't sign, and wait for another opportunity or circulate a United Wisconsin petition myself.

The GAB manual for recalls indicates that there is no issue of invalidating the signature of an elector who has signed more than one petition for the same recall, and only the second or subsequent signatures are invalid, not the first one encountered by the filing officer.  Still, who wants to be worrying about whether taking the anti-troll precaution of signing multiple petitions will, in and of itself, be viewed as criminal.  I have an email into the GAB and will report on this issue in a later blog.

Presumably United Wisconsin is using Excel Spread sheets that can be merged and sorted and arranged by alpha sort to detect multiple signatures before the petitions go into the GAB.  By having the circulator fill out an excel spreadsheet that is submitted to United Wisconsin with the circulator's executed petitions, this should be easy to track, so long as the spread sheet also lists as to each signer the number assigned to the specific petition or the circulator's name, and United Wisconsin segregates the petitions by number or circulator.  Smarter people than me are undoubtedly organizing the recall drive, so this is presumably taking place already.

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