Court Wrangling Steps Up In Wisconsin Recall Fight

Wrangling over the potential recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is heating up, as a Jan. 17 deadline to turn in recall petition signatures approaches.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

On Thursday, Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis ordered the State Government Accountability Board to pro-actively screen signatures on the recall petitions of Walker and five other state officials.

In the past, those gathering the recall signatures were the only ones responsible for ensuring signatures on petitions were not fake or otherwise invalid.

Walker’s campaign committee and the state Republican Party brought the suit against the Accountability Board, claiming concern over fake and duplicate signatures.

The Board warned that the extra verification could take up to eight additional weeks or $94,000. It’s unclear if the state will need to spend that amount of time or resources.

But there was a major caveat in the court ruling. The judge gave the board some breathing room in its decision, saying that their obligation to verify the signatures will be limited by the resources they have or can reasonably find.

Those organizing the recall drive are confident they will have enough signatures on the 17th to allow the recall process to move forward. They’ll need just over 540,000 or one-quarter of the number of voters who cast in the November election. Whatever the review process, it’s likely that more court challenges to the recall drive will happen after signatures are filed.

Walker, who took office a year ago, was at the center of a bitter battle over stripping most public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Voters subsequently recalled some of the lawmakers who voted in favor of a new law, but Republicans retain control of state government.

Read Changing Gears’ coverage of Walker and Wisconsin politics here.

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