By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Should the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker go to voters, it would be late spring before a general recall election would be held, a state Government Accountability Board official told Wisconsin Reporter.
Democrats, organized labor and others in an umbrella movement early Tuesday launched initiatives to recall the governor, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators. The campaign registration filing opened a 60-day window for organizers to gather more than 1 million signatures on petitions — 540,208 each for the recall of Walker and Kleefisch — and tens of thousands more signatures in the campaign to oust the senators.
The petition drive, led by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the liberal political action committee United Wisconsin, has until Jan. 14 to collect the required signatures, said GAB spokesman Reid Magney. The petitions must be filed by Jan. 17, but recall organizers may submit the documents as early as Jan. 3, the first anniversary of Walker’s first day in office.
Once the petitions arrive, GAB staff begins its review, and Walker and the other incumbents may begin a challenge process. Challenges occur concurrently.
GAB legally has 31 days in which to conduct its review, but Kevin Kennedy, the agency’s director and general counsel, has said the board will need more time, as it did during this past summer’s Senate recall campaigns.
If the board decides a sufficient number of signatures were collected, it will order an election to be held six Tuesdays from the date of the order, Magney said. If a primary election is required, the primary will be held on that sixth Tuesday following the call, with the regular recall election scheduled four weeks later.
So the earliest Wisconsin could see a recall election is in May or June, Magney said.
The vetting process will require some additional staff at GAB, but how much is yet to be determined.
GAB employed 18 temporary workers earlier this year to help review more than 200,000 signatures on Senate recall petitions. The employees earned a total of $6,709.50, according to the agency.
“We may have the option of bringing in more temps or finding other ways to devote resources to this,” Magney told Wisconsin Reporter.
GAB had planned to employ optical character recognition software aimed at automating the recall petition and nomination review processes, but that doesn’t appear to be an option at this point.
“It sounds like the petitions coming in are mostly going to be handwritten, making optical character recognition difficult,” he said.
In an earlier memo, Kennedy said GAB’s Elections Division would pursue a “number of IT innovations designed to benefit staff, voters and clerks,” saving time and the bottom line.
Reid said the resources deployed will depend on the level of funding the Legislature provides the board.
It's unclear how much a second round of recalls would cost, but GAB has said the nine Senate recall elections this past summer cost taxpayers $2.1 million. Recall votes held outside regularly scheduled April elections would add more expense to county and municipal budgets.