Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Help, help, I'm being repressed!
December 15, 2011 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Republican Governor Scott Walker filed suit against the non partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB). At issue in the suit is a statement by the GAB concerning challenges to the gathered signatures - that signatures, no matter what names are listed, are presumed valid absent a challenge by the Walker campaign. This presumption is a violation of Walker's 14th Amendment rights and violates the will of people who chose not to sign, he argues in the complaint. (pdf)

This comes hot on the heels of an announcement by Wisconsin Dems that they have reached 500,000 signatures of the 750,000 desired in the recall effort against him in just a few weeks - at a rate of roughly 25,000 signatures per day.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt (64 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
There he goes, wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits.
posted by bz at 6:56 PM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


So the governor who thinks it's OK to bypass the constitutional right of the electorate to be governed by the people they actually elected by unilaterally appointing "emergency managers" is screaming that his constitutional rights are being trampled?

Do as I say, not as I do.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:57 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice work Mickey Mouse! As a former WI resident I wish I could sign the petition and stand with you!
posted by jeffmac at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2011


Presuming that I'm not misinterpreting the situation, I have to say -- despite my disgust with Walker as a human being and as a politician, I kinda agree with him. Not that I'm saying that I necessarily agree -- there are way too many thorny, cliched paradoxes at play for me to answer. Is it right to serve the poisoner his own medicine? Does a negative action (not signing) count as much as a positive action (signing, even with a false name)? Do the ends justify the means? blah blah blah, but it more than just seems fishy -- there's some tuna in there. So I say tactical mistake by the good guys in even allowing there to be any doubt over their methods and motives.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:03 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a travesty Walker is.

Repellent even.
posted by spitbull at 7:04 PM on December 15, 2011


Thus far, jeffmac, the names themselves have not been challenged. Presumably Mr Walker believes them to be genuine. So it would appear that 'Mickey Mouse' is not among them.
posted by koeselitz at 7:05 PM on December 15, 2011


If you read the actual complaint, you will discover that they are complaining that the GAB says it is OK for an individual voter to sign a recall petition multiple times. Their argument is an equal protection one, namely that an opponent can't not-sign multiple times. I'm no fan of Walker but it's a reasonable lawsuit.
posted by unSane at 7:05 PM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think Walker's case has a lot of merit; they are still requiring legitimate dates and addresses.

But take that for what it's worth - my name isn't really Benny Andajetz.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:07 PM on December 15, 2011


Yeah, this actually makes sense, unSane, as little as I'd like to admit it. But it still seems to me that the GAB has this well in hand. The process hasn't exactly completed.
posted by koeselitz at 7:10 PM on December 15, 2011


Is it really that hard to challenge signatures? Don't you just need to flag the sig, list a reason, and then order someone to knock on the door/look it up or w.e.? Or is it a lot harder than that in WI?
posted by Garm at 7:11 PM on December 15, 2011


unSane: What about multiple names that have an independent (and new) addresses?

"The signatures of Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler will be counted on recall petitions targeting Gov. Scott Walker as long as they are properly dated and include a Wisconsin address, the board charged with reviewing the petitions was told Tuesday."
posted by jeffmac at 7:11 PM on December 15, 2011


I don't see this in the complaint, though - where exactly does the 14th amendment come into this?
posted by koeselitz at 7:13 PM on December 15, 2011


Their argument is an equal protection one, namely that an opponent can't not-sign multiple times. I'm no fan of Walker but it's a reasonable lawsuit.


I can't not-donate to campaigns multiple times, either. I suppose Citizen's United is next on the chopping block?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:17 PM on December 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


I can't believe I wasted the 5 minutes it took to read that comically self-refuting complaint. It's not a good argument - actually it's difficult to believe that it's being made in good faith.

Koeselitz: paragraph 20. It's a throwaway argument. i would recommend that anyone who believes this is a sensible complaint read paragraph 14, and then rethink their position. you will quickly notice that the complaint is invoking a law that doesn't apply, to attack a position that the GAB hasn't taken. It's complete bullshit.
posted by facetious at 7:17 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't petitions in WI have to be signed by registered voters? Surely it's as simple as paying people to go through the signatures and punch the addresses into the voter roll database and see if there's a match or not.

Of course multiples should be disallowed. But that's part of the process of verification / validation.

Is Walker suggesting that the state itself should be in charge of validating all the signatures on a petition such as this? I would have no problem with that. It seems like it's in the state's best interest to make sure that all petitions which are brought before it consist of valid signatures.

I'm entirely unsure on what the "those who don't sign are having their rights being violated" claim is based. A petition is merely a request that something be put to a vote. Either you agree and sign, or you disagree and don't sign. Meeting the thresh hold number of signatures simply means that the vote will happen, at which time both those who signed and those who didn't have the opportunity to vote on the actual issue.

Non snarky question -- if Walker is bothered by having to challenge signatures to get them questioned and possibly invalidated, why can't he just question every signature en masse?
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do the ends justify the means?

I agree with you that they do not. The tragedy of liberalism is that conservatives never, ever trouble themselves in the slightest with this question. It's tough to argue with their record of success.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:22 PM on December 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


so I'm guessing you people don't understand the difference between a lawsuit and a decision
posted by unSane at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


so I'm guessing you people don't understand the difference between a lawsuit and a decision


what?
posted by facetious at 7:32 PM on December 15, 2011


I'd think it'd be easy to defend the use of multiple signatures as a necessity in the face of people openly plotting on Facebook to sign up as signature-getters with the explicit intention of destroying any signatures they get and even discussing attempting to become supervisors so they can destroy pages of signatures acquired by others. In a hostile environment like that, it's irresponsible not to sign more than once just to make sure that one gets through.
posted by scalefree at 7:32 PM on December 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Isn't this tantamount to an argument that the possibility of voter fraud requires us to abolish voting?
posted by gerryblog at 7:37 PM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you read the actual complaint, you will discover that they are complaining that the GAB says it is OK for an individual voter to sign a recall petition multiple times.

That is certainly what they are complaining. But is it true? I couldn't find any GAB statement to this effect. On the other hand, on the GAB's manual for recall elections, we find:

"Some of the grounds for challenge and the resulting effect are:

Grounds: An elector has signed the recall petition more than once.
Resulting Effect: The second and subsequent signatures are not counted."

which seems as clear-cut a statement as you might want that it is NOT OK with the GAB for an individual voter to sign a recall petition multiple times.

What IS true is that names are struck from the petition when they are challenged, and that it's not the GAB's responsibility or right to comb through the list, deciding for itself which names shouldn't count. Presumably that rule is there because in Wisconsin we think it's better for these challenges to take place in the daylight, with lawyers from both parties present, instead of being carried out with no oversight by a GAB employee whose partisan sympathies are unknown.

I think "double signatures are illegitimate and will be struck down on challenge" is kind of different from "it's OK to sign twice."

That said, it's hard to see why Governor Walker's organization would really care very much whether the stripping of double signatures and fake names is done by the GAB or by Dem and GOP lawyers; unless the recall campaign has miscounted very badly, they are going to come in with more than 100,000 signatures to spare, and whiting out a Mickey Mouse or two is not going to make any difference. Maybe the point here is to try to fling some mud on the GAB, which has in my view been one of the fairest actors in this entire fiasco, annoying Republicans and Democrats alike. (For instance, they took a very clear and correct line that the late-arriving Waukesha votes that gave David Prosser a narrow victory over Joanne Kloppenburg were real votes that had to count.)

The linked J-S article has GOP Sen Jeff Fitzgerald floating the idea of returning to the old partisan elections board, which these guys hated when a Democrat was governor but have discovered an affection for now.

"The elections board, by contrast, was an overtly partisan body. One member each was selected by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly, the Senate majority leader, the Assembly minority leader, the Senate minority leader, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the top official of both the Democratic and Republican parties and sometimes a third political party in the state. That meant a majority of the board often had strong political affiliations."

The only thing is, the chief justice of the officially nonpartisan Supreme Court is Shirley Abrahamson, who's associated with the court's liberal wing. That makes 4 D and 4 R election board members. I wonder if we'll see a proposal to replace the GAB with a 7-member elections board, with the CJ's appointment quietly edited out.
posted by escabeche at 7:43 PM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd think it'd be easy to defend the use of multiple signatures as a necessity in the face of people openly plotting on Facebook to sign up as signature-getters with the explicit intention of destroying any signatures they get

There's no evidence this plot is real, and I highly doubt it is.
posted by escabeche at 7:45 PM on December 15, 2011


At least as real as ACORN supposedly registering fake voters -- there's actual statements of intent in this case -- and we saw Congress get all up in ACORN's grill.

But yeah, it's basically a pants-shitting play by a desperate Walker who, I think, sees the writing on the wall by now. Already, a number of rural counties have posted signatures in excess of Walker's vote tallies. No way he survives the recall, so the only thing to do is to throw up as much FUD as possible to gum up the works.

Besides, he's positioning himself for a cool lobbying gig or a guest host spot on Fox, now, so he's gotta pull out all the stops, no matter if they are absurd. (Heck, the more absurd the better for his future constituency).
posted by darkstar at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Their argument is an equal protection one, namely that an opponent can't not-sign multiple times. I'm no fan of Walker but it's a reasonable lawsuit.

Laughable complaint more like. So, where in the Constitution is it required that a voter provide equal protection for anyone? The Constitution only requires that government provide due process. He's trying to piggyback this on the GAB.

Its pure bullshit. They are angling for a delay in everything and want to make it look "unfair" for political purposes.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well it, I guess it seems as though the GAB has technically said that it's okay to sign the petition multiple times. As it should be, right? Do we really want to make signing a piece of paper against the law?

The point is that the GAB also says that only valid signatures can be counted, and that those valid signatures may only be counted once. So, er, yeah. Thanks, facetious, for clearing that up.
posted by koeselitz at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no evidence this plot is real, and I highly doubt it is.

There's a poisonous atmosphere where such a plot is believable. Whether they intended to go through with it or not, they could easily have inspired others to do the same but without bragging about it beforehand. It's a measure of the opposition's mindset, what they're willing to consider. The fear that your voice won't be heard is a reasonable one.
posted by scalefree at 7:59 PM on December 15, 2011


"This presumption is a violation of Walker's 14th Amendment rights and violates the will of people who chose not to sign..."

... all of whom will be able to vote in the recall election, in order to keep Walker in power.

Will there be false signatures in amongst the petition sigs? Sure... but that is why there are judges overseeing these things, capable of removing highly questionable signatures from the ballot. But the point of fact is, the supporters of recalling Walker are on track to exceed the number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election by a *HUGE* margin.

At that point, it's put up for a vote... one that anyone in Wisconsin can be a part of.
posted by markkraft at 8:02 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has anyone seen Brent Favre?
posted by lometogo at 8:05 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Their argument is an equal protection one, namely that an opponent can't not-sign multiple times. "

Because, clearly, fraud is free speech... especially when it's funded by corporate money!
posted by markkraft at 8:07 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its pure bullshit. They are angling for a delay in everything and want to make it look "unfair" for political purposes.

The purpose of the action isn't to overturn the recall, they know they have little chance of that. It's to further the cause of delegitimizing the opposition & the voting process. Conservatives know the demographic trends are against them, so they know if they want to succeed they must block their opponents from having their votes made or counted. Caging, deceptive robocalling, deceptive flyers, voter ID laws, laws restricting student voters, voter-fraud scare campaigns; it's all part of a unified strategy to limit the number of votes against them.
posted by scalefree at 8:09 PM on December 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


To reiterate: this is a political play that takes one phrase of hundreds issued by the GAB out of context.

GTFO Walker.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Caging, deceptive robocalling, deceptive flyers, voter ID laws, laws restricting student voters, voter-fraud scare campaigns; it's all part of a unified strategy to limit the number of votes against them.

Q...F...maddening T.
posted by darkstar at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]



It is notable that this lawsuit was filed in Waukesha. The Republican legislature recently changed the law to allow lawsuits against the state to be filed in any county, allowing them to choose a highly conservative home for this lawsuit to start out in.

I sort of think that this will get fast tracked to the WI Supreme court where the conservatives on the bench will make some rationale that renders the current recall effort unconstitutional and forces them to start again from square one, only this time requiring every signature to have a blood and tissue sample and 7 notarization.

And you laugh, but last June they fell all over themselves stand the last 50 years of jurisprudence on it's head to justify the Legislatures illegal and unconstitutional actions.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:28 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, so I presumably am misunderstanding the situation. Will have to more carefully read links when I am not tired.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:29 PM on December 15, 2011


If you read the actual complaint, you will discover that they are complaining that the GAB says it is OK for an individual voter to sign a recall petition multiple times. Their argument is an equal protection one, namely that an opponent can't not-sign multiple times.

Walker is actually arguing against due process, by invoking equal protection. He claims that the signature of the recall petitioners counts more than the non-signatures of his supporters. Of course it does. That's the law. It says, "The number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 25 percent of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of governor within the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled." By Walker's argument, each signature is worth twice as much as a vote from his supporters in the past election, and that is unequal protection. Well of course it is unequal. Walker's claim means you'd need more valid signatures against him, than votes FOR him in the past election. Essentially you'd have to un-elect him by petition. That is utterly ridiculous.

The threshold for putting a measure on the ballot is always much lower than the threshold for being elected. You get your certified majority only during an election.



But that does not equal a "decision" as he claims. That decision is made at the polls during the recall election. Under Walker's claim, you would need 50% of all voters just to get a recall on the ballot. The rule is that you need the at least as many signatures
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:29 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, sorry, that last graf was an edit error, I meant to cut that out. I rewrote it in the graf above.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:30 PM on December 15, 2011


Oh and while I'm at it, mangling my message, here's another.

I'd think it'd be easy to defend the use of multiple signatures as a necessity in the face of people openly plotting on Facebook to sign up as signature-getters with the explicit intention of destroying any signatures they get and even discussing attempting to become supervisors so they can destroy pages of signatures acquired by others.

Destroying signatures on a petition is a felony. People have been charged with felony election fraud for destroying a petition. There will be more charges, I'm sure. A Wisconsin political group is offering a $10,000 reward for affidavits that lead to convictions for election fraud. And of course the GOP has to get their grubby hands on the situation, they introduced a bill to make it a felony to sign a petition twice. They are likely to get that bill passed (under any illegal rules they can invent, as they have before) but they're unlikely to get it enacted before the recall petition is submitted.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:46 PM on December 15, 2011


There's no evidence this plot is real, and I highly doubt it is.

The GAB at least seems to obliquely acknowledge it in paragraph 14:
We do not recommend that people sign separate recall petition pages multiple times unless the signer has a reasonable basis to conclude that the first signature will not be counted because of a lack of confidence in the reliability of the circulator.
For the most part, this reads like a standard brief to me from a person in Walker's position. This isn't to say it isn't bullshit - disenfranchisement is one of the tools de jeur for the GOP right now. I don't know if there are any actual covert operations out there destroying petitions, but if there are, this is exactly how one would support them.

Anyway, the Prayer for Relief spells out what this actually is. They basically are asking for two things:

1. A gag rule stating that GAB may only publish FOSW's interpretation of the law, and
2. A ruling that the burden on finding duplicate or fraudulent signatures be on the GAB.

The first will probably be found silly in the facts - it appears from the complaint itself that GAB was quoted out of context, and they probably have a keener understanding of this area of law than does FOSW. But this is where the complaint might have some degree of legitimacy. Basically, if GAB is misinterpreting the law, then the court can say so. GAB will still have no power over how they are quoted in the press, and will still have no police power to go after fraulent or duplicate signatures, but at least the law will be clearer.

The second is flatly ridiculous, though. It's the equivalent of saying, "the burden of knowing that your scrabble entry is in the scrabble dictionary should be on the player playing the word." Okay, fine. It already is. How do we enforce that? Through challenges? Oh, cool. Then we'll keep doing that. The prayer is meaningless because the system is already as well-designed for the plaintiff's purposes as it can be. No matter the ruling here, FOSW is going to scour the signatures and issue challenges regardless, so it's moot.

It is, simply put, political posturing. On the first point, FOSW gets to get greater news leverage out of something GAB didn't actually say, and on the second point, they get to play victim, either to the court or to the lazy GAB. That's all there is to see here.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:47 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Non snarky question -- if Walker is bothered by having to challenge signatures to get them questioned and possibly invalidated, why can't he just question every signature en masse?

That's essentially what he did with this lawsuit, he's saying that all the signatures are invalid. But more specifically, you need specific reasons to challenge each signature, like there is no such eligible voter, the person is from out of state, it's a duplicate, etc. You can't say they're all from out of state, etc.

Here in Iowa, the GOP used to pull this sort of stunt on election day. I heard of precincts where a pollwatcher would wait until the peak of voting, when there would be people standing in line, then they'd claim that everyone in the line was ineligible under some flimsy pretext. Then the election officials would be required to handle each challenged voter individually. This would clog up the polls and people would wait in line too long and decide to give up on waiting and not get to vote. And that was what the GOP deliberately set out to do, to disrupt the polls with frivolous challenges. But new laws were enacted and frivolous challenges intended to disrupt voting are illegal, and if I'm working the polls and someone tries to pull that, I am actually deputized as a State Police officer to arrest them. I always wanted to do that.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:59 PM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Don't petitions in WI have to be signed by registered voters? Surely it's as simple as paying people to go through the signatures and punch the addresses into the voter roll database and see if there's a match or not.

Nope. Petitions can be signed by anyone eligible to register to vote, not just anyone already registered.
posted by Weebot at 9:02 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nope. Petitions can be signed by anyone eligible to register to vote, not just anyone already registered.

Hrm. I think that's a major difference between WI and WA law, then. I believe you have to be a registered voter for your signature to count in WA.
posted by hippybear at 9:14 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a legitimate problem here: multiple and fraudulent signatures on recall petitions. That doesn't mean that this lawsuit is intended to address that problem. Here's what I see from the complaint.

Everyone agrees that Wisconsin voting law creates at least one mechanism for eliminating multiple or fraudulent signatures: The parties opposed to the recall can contest signatures that they believe to be improper. The GAB has stated that no statute gives it the power to deeply investigate whether the signatures are proper. And, in fact, the plaintiffs don't identify such a statute in their complaint. The plaintiffs here claim more generally that the GAB should have an affirmative duty to do something (though that isn't specified in the complaint) to prevent improper signatures. They base this on a State constitutional argument and a Federal equal protection argument. Both seem pretty full of shit to me, but I'll lay them out for you to judge.

State constitutional argument: The Wisconsin Constitution provides that "no law shall be enacted to hamper, restrict or impair the right of recall." The plaintiffs claim that the GAB's interpretation of state election law hampers, restricts and impairs the "right of recall" for those who do not wish to recall Governor Walker. That makes no sense to me, but that's the argument at paragraph 18 of the complaint. The Wisconsin Constitution, for better or worse, forbids laws that make it harder to get a politician recalled but allows laws that make it easier. It's not a wise provision, in my mind, but it's in the Constitution, and Gov. Walker's attorneys are trying to get the court to interpret the Constitution to mean the exact opposite of what it says.

U.S. Constitution Equal Protection Argument: When fundamental rights are at stake (and in other circumstances not at issue here) equal protection prohibits similarly situated groups of people from being treated differently unless there is a compelling state interest to do so, and the law is "narrowly tailored" to meet that compelling state interest. Stated more simply: A statute is very likely to be unconstitutional if it concerns a fundamental right and two similar groups are treated differently.

Voting is a fundamental right, but people who sign a petition to create a recall election are not similar to people who don't sign the petition. The recall process at this stage by its very nature is only concerned with the acts of those who do not like the Governor and want to throw him out of office. If enough want the recall election it doesn't matter that there are others who do not want the recall election. There is no affirmative vote against a recall election. The act of signing a recall petition is thus completely different from the non-act of not signing. No matter how many "Mickey Mouses" appear on the petitions, that does not make plaintiff Stephan Thompson's non-signature any more or less a non-act than it was before.

Note how different the situation is from an ordinary election, where people on both sides act by voting. If the government interferes to dilute the votes of one party only, then there's the possibility of a real equal protection problem. But even in that case, non-voters couldn't claim that the government's action somehow diluted the value of their non-vote.

Requested Relief: The real sign that this is a bullshit complaint comes when you look at the request for injunctive relief. You'd expect the Plaintiffs (who are represented by very capable counsel) to ask for something affirmative, such as an order to require the GAB to enter all names and addresses into a database and eliminate duplicates, fictive names and addresses, and so on. Instead the request for injunctive relief is phrased to stop GAB from saying that they have no duty to do a full investigation and nothing more and from "placing the burden" on the Plaintiffs. Look at paragraph 34 of the complaint to see what I'm talking about.

The Plaintiffs lawyers were quite capable of drafting a prayer for relief that made more sense. They didn't, and I suspect that they didn't because they really don't want to change the law as radically as their causes of action imply. These election rules are neutral in their application, and in future years Republicans will be running recall campaigns against Democrats, most likely. This lawsuit is part of short-term politics, not long-term legal change.

Last point: If this lawsuit were a serious and legitimate attempt to make recall elections more fair and less frequent, I'd support it wholeheartedly.
posted by ferdydurke at 10:16 PM on December 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't think it makes sense to say that a bad verification procedure will give signers a greater say than non-signers. The petition leads to an election, and that's the point at which signers and non-signers should have an equal say. Until that point the non-signers have effectively no say. Furthermore, his argument that people can sign multiple times is really part of his argument that people can sign with false names and illegible addresses. In all those cases you are counting invalid votes.

For what it's worth I think he has something of a point. The GAB seems to have been remarkably careless about getting an honest collection of signatures - this isn't how they would run an actual election. There is no way that a challenged politician can check half a million signatures in ten days, which means that the process is fatally flawed. I suppose the ultimate consequences of a dishonest recall petition are less serious than the consequences of a dishonest election, but it's still not the sort of thing which should be tolerated.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:34 PM on December 15, 2011


> in Iowa, the GOP used to pull this sort of stunt [voter challenges]

So after 2004, they added a provision for Election Day Registration. A polllworker's account of how that went (it's a fun story).
posted by morganw at 10:45 PM on December 15, 2011


Note how different the situation is from an ordinary election, where people on both sides act by voting. If the government interferes to dilute the votes of one party only, then there's the possibility of a real equal protection problem. But even in that case, non-voters couldn't claim that the government's action somehow diluted the value of their non-vote.

Signing a petition isn't voting. It's a request that something be put to a vote. Nobody is disenfranchised by the process. They can vote in the election and have their voice heard on equal footing with everyone else.
posted by hippybear at 10:45 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gaah. Bad pullquote for my comment to respond to. But my point is... not-signing a petition isn't any kind of act which requires equal protection. The only thing a petition does is request that something be put to a vote. It's the vote that matters, not the petition signing.

If the concept of the vote is so threatening, then the matter being petitioned itself is what has flaws, not the petition process.
posted by hippybear at 10:50 PM on December 15, 2011


Hippybear, I acknowledge that it's better to have too many elections than too few - but neither is desirable; you don't want elected politicians to be constantly playing-up to the electorate. It's almost always better for aggrieved voters to wait until the next election.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:14 PM on December 15, 2011


you don't want elected politicians to be constantly playing-up to the electorate

Depending on your definition of "playing-up", I'd say that it's pretty much their JOB.

I'm certainly not a fan of the eternal election cycle we have here in the US, but if enough people hate what you're doing while in office to want you out, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a mechanism in place to remove you before the full term in office is done.

That's how these things work. Anyone can mount a recall campaign. But it takes a distinct percentage of those who put an official in office agreeing with the campaign through the petition process to make it happen. It then takes a majority of those who vote to put you out of office.

That sounds like direct democracy in action to me.
posted by hippybear at 11:26 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"which seems as clear-cut a statement as you might want that it is NOT OK with the GAB for an individual voter to sign a recall petition multiple times. "

Not really. It's as clear-cut a statement as you can get that voters can sign as many times as they like, with the understanding that duplicates will be stricken and artificially inflating the tally may be detrimental to their interests.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 PM on December 15, 2011


I don't think it's any sort of judgement on whether multiple signatures are right or wrong, just that they admit that it happens, that it's legal and if they're challenged, which is also legal, then duplicates would be eliminated.
posted by mikelieman at 5:24 AM on December 16, 2011


Do the ends justify the means?
I agree with you that they do not. The tragedy of liberalism is that conservatives never, ever trouble themselves in the slightest with this question.


That's completely false. For instance the recent controversy over Live Action's "undercover" Planned Parenthood exposé led to this article criticizing their means in The Public Discourse and a months long debate about the issue across that journal, First Things, CatholicVote.org, and the National Catholic Register to name just a few of the places it was debated (and all of those outlets ran several articles, often on different sides of the debate.)

And it's not like this is the only time they've ever debated means.
posted by Jahaza at 6:12 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The GAB seems to have been remarkably careless about getting an honest collection of signatures - this isn't how they would run an actual election

The GAB doesn't collect the signatures and collecting fake signatures is a felony.

The statute requires validation to be done by opposing parties. 10 days isn't a problem when you're recalling the local dog catcher. The problem with having to verify so many signatures in so short a time results from the governor being the an office elected statewide - 25% of all of us is going to be a lot of signatures.

There is a richer irony here in that Walker's career began when he took office after a successful recall.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:07 AM on December 16, 2011


As a Wisconsinite I feel that I should chime in here with a few points:

As has already been pointed out the GAB *used* to be a very partisan office. And as a result of bipartisan legislation several years ago it was made to not be. So this attack by Walker is a purely cynical attempt to cast doubt on the process and make it look as if the GAB is in cahoots with the anti-Walker movement.

What Walker has done in office so far has been nothing BUT pandering to his base. Starting with his movements to make WI a "right to work" state. And moving on with his concealed carry legislation. Which, I feel I should add, I used to oppose and now I realize I don't give as much of a shit about. Since, I don't own and likely never will own a gun I have no need to get a firearms concealed carry. Though, I do own a weapon that I should get a concealed carry permit to hold if I were to carry it. So really it only serves to piss off his most vociferous opponents and please his loudest supporters. And, by all accounts, his push to make many forms of birth control illegal, as well as abortion rights restrictions.

And given that I don't know him very well, he may genuinely believe in everything he has put before the legislature, all of these things make me feel that he's only in it for the power. He's a demagogue interested in only his own gratification and not "Forward Wisconsin".
posted by Severian at 7:39 AM on December 16, 2011


> in Iowa, the GOP used to pull this sort of stunt [voter challenges]

So after 2004, they added a provision for Election Day Registration. A polllworker's account of how that went (it's a fun story).


LOL I wrote that. I still work for the Auditor's Office so I used a pseudonym, this is the first time I've publicly acknowledged the article is my work. Actually, that's a followup to another article, "The True Confessions of an Election Official." I mentioned my work on the election to my editor, and he asked me to write an article that would reassure his European audience that we would not screw up this election and end up with another Bush v. Gore fiasco.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:55 AM on December 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


My sister-in-law received her American citizenship yesterday. Her first act as an American citizen was to sign the petition to recall Scott Walker. Isn't it just so cute that, on this day, that craven, snivelling, little twit is attempting to disenfranchise her from her newly earned right to participate in American democracy?
posted by stet at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]



WI dems have announced that they will intervene in the lawsuit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf, those are great stories. (My mom and sis have both been poll station volunteers in CA; it sounds sort of crazy-making.) Almost makes me sad that WA is all vote-by-mail.
posted by epersonae at 11:58 AM on December 16, 2011


Scott Walker's Next Target: Cancer Screenings for Women. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood foes go after a program to provide women with free cancer screenings.
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2011


Here is the text of the dem response.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:47 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned a new legal phrase from the Dem response: "barred by laches", the doctrine of equity that says you cannot knowingly and unreasonably delay in pursuing your rights or a claim such that the delay has resulted in a greater disadvantage or adversity to the opposing party once the right or claim is pursued.

It's a great phrase to learn (and totally what Walker, et al., are doing here). Walker's pal is claiming that the burden on him is causing some injury. Despite that being horse-hockey, the "barred by laches" doctrine says that, even if the recall petitions were infringing Walker's rights (which they're totally not), Walker, et al., were in the wrong to delay putting in place a team to do a quick review of the signatures until it was "too late" for them effectively to do it.

Walker's campaign teamknew the recall petitions were going to be collected and made no effort to address them until so late a date as to have adversely prejudiced the issue against the defendants. Therefore, they are barred by laches from asserting the rights they allowed unreasonably to lie dormant until it was too late. I love it!

The Dem response takes apart assertions bit by bit, but also asserts that the whole thing is polluted by the "unclean hands" doctrine, as well. That, since the Walker campaign is clearly just doing this to gum up the works, he cannot use the courts to gain any equitable remedy.

In your face, Walker! Things like this make me want to study law, even if I never practiced...
posted by darkstar at 7:58 PM on December 20, 2011



Walker won his lawsuit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2012


So, all the jailhouse lawyers above who ridiculed the complaint, care to comment?
posted by unSane at 8:46 AM on January 6, 2012



Well, the judge did 20 years a republican legislator before ascending to the judiciary.

Any appeal to the state supreme court is sure to fail - they've already demonstrated that they'll stand decades of precedence and jurisprudence on its head to get a favorable ruling for republican litigants.

It's a kangaroo court, and dirty politics.

I always wondered how Indiana managed to elect a KKK majority in its legislature. Now, I understand.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:54 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, all the jailhouse lawyers above who ridiculed the complaint, care to comment?

It's just as ridiculous now as it was then. You're welcome.
posted by scalefree at 8:59 AM on January 6, 2012


« Older Pick a hedgehog and make him sing a Christmas caro...  |  "The subscription model is dea... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments