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UPDATE: Petitions To Recall Governor Walker Now Posted Online

UPDATED: Friday, February 3, 2012 --- 6:45p.m.

Madison, WI – The Government Accountability Board today released digital copies of recall petitions for Lt. Governor Kleefisch.

In total, G.A.B. staff scanned 140,123 petition pages for the Lt. Governor’s recall, all of which were given to the Lt. Governor’s representative Friday, as well as released on the G.A.B.’s website.

The Board has not yet estimated the number of signatures on the petitions, as the signature review process is just beginning.
The petitions are being released under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law, as well as a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Doe v. Reed, involving the release of referendum petitions in Washington State. Unlike an elector’s vote, which is private and confidential, the signing of recall petition is a public process. The PDF copies released by the Board are not computer-searchable.

“The electoral process is the means our society has chosen to select leaders, establish public policy and hold public officials accountable without resort to intimidation or violence,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “While individuals with an interest in vetting these petitions have every right to do so, we expect that they will continue to do so in a respectful, lawful manner. All Wisconsin residents ought to agree that we can ensure the rights of individuals to participate in the political process without endangering their safety or giving up their right to personal security.”

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 6:20 p.m.

Petitions seeking the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker have been posted online.

For a link, go to the RELATED LINKS section at the bottom of this page.

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 5:20 p.m.

From The Government Accountability Board:

Madison, WI – The Government Accountability Board today announced plans for public release of copies of recall petitions for Governor Walker.

“In the interest of full transparency, the Board has always planned to release copies of recall petitions to anyone who requested them, and to post them online,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel. “However, we recently heard from a number of people who are concerned about their personal safety if their names and addresses are made public. As a result, our staff had to do a thorough analysis under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law. These are serious issues which must be given thorough consideration and addressed in light of the Statutes and the responsibilities of the Board.”

Kennedy said the staff has concluded, and Judge David G. Deininger, the Board chairperson, has concurred, that the petitions will be released under Wisconsin law, as well as a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Doe v. Reed, involving the release of referendum petitions in Washington State. That position is also supported by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Unlike an elector’s vote, which is private and confidential, the signing of recall petition is a public process.

In addition to providing copies to requestors, the G.A.B. will continue its past practice, and put all 153,335 pages of PDF copies of the petitions online later today, Kennedy said. The PDF copies are not computer-searchable.

Kennedy said the agency conducted a balancing test, as required by the Public Records Law, and determined:

Weighing all of these concerns and public interests, we have concluded that the balancing test of the Public Records Law favors disclosure of the entire recall petition without redaction of information on a recall petition, even when individual signers have expressed a concern arising from prior abuse or violence committed against them by a person who is now subject to a restraining order. During recall elections in 2011, the Board posted the entire petitions in PDF format on its website, and has followed the same practice with the recall petitions currently pending against four State Senators.

Few processes in the electoral system or elsewhere are more public than the signing of recall petitions against state elected officials. Petition signers chose to participate in the public process of initiating a recall election of the Governor as well as other officeholders, and any concerns regarding their personal safety and privacy may not have been considered when signing a petition. In addition, officeholders and the public have a right to view the petitions, not only for the legal process of filing challenges to signatures, but to help ensure the transparency and accountability of the petition review process, and of Wisconsin’s electoral system.

“The electoral process is the means our society has chosen to select leaders, establish public policy and hold public officials accountable without resort to intimidation or violence,” Kennedy said. “While individuals with an interest in vetting these petitions have every right to do so, we expect that they will continue to do so in a respectful, lawful manner. All Wisconsin residents ought to agree that we can ensure the rights of individuals to participate in the political process without endangering their safety or giving up their right to personal security.”

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 5:30 p.m.

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Petitions seeking the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker will be posted online as originally planned despite privacy concerns.

The Government Accountability Board announced late Tuesday that it would post the petitions sometime in the evening. The board originally was to post them Monday, but delayed that after concerns were raised about the names and addresses of domestic violence victims being made public through the release.

But board director Kevin Kennedy says attorneys from his staff and the Department of Justice did a thorough analysis of the issue and determined that the names should be posted.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and others advocated earlier Tuesday for the petitions to be made public.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 3:50 p.m.

This afternoon, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen held a press conference. You can watch this briefing by clicking the video link ABOVE marked "PRESS CONFERENCE: J.B. Van Hollen 1/31/2012"

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 11:10 a.m.

Letter from MacIver Institute President Brett Healy to the GAB:

Dear Executive Director Kennedy:

This letter is to request the following records, under the state's Open Records Law (19.31-39, Wisconsin
Statutes):

Copy of the electronic record of the scanned petitions which seek the recall of Governor Scott Walker. This electronic record has been, under information and belief, created and is in your possession. Creation of a duplicate copy of said electronic record should, therefore, be able to be produced immediately and at a minimal cost, if any.

Please be aware that the Open Records law defines “record” to include information that is maintained on paper as well as electronically, such as data files and unprinted emails. Wis. Stat. § 19.32(2).

As you know, the Open Records law “shall be construed in every instance with the presumption of complete public access consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of access generally is contrary to the public interest and only in exceptional cases can access be denied.” If you deny my request, the law requires you to do so in writing and state what part of the law you believe entitles you to deny my request. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a).

The Open Records law states that you may charge for "the actual, necessary and direct cost" of locating records, if this exceeds $50, and for photocopies. The Wisconsin Department of Justice advises that copying fees under the Open Records law should be “around 15 cents per page and that anything in excess of 25 cents may be suspect.” Please advise me before processing this request if the total cost will exceed $50.

As you know, the law requires you to respond to this request “as soon as practicable and without delay.”

If you are not the records custodian for this information, please forward this request to the appropriate person. Also, please let me know if I can clarify or refine this request.

Since the information is in your possession, I anticipate a response from you today.

Sincerely,
Brett Healy

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 10:58 a.m.

Statement from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen:

The integrity of the election process depends on openness and transparency. I believe the public should have access to the recall petitions.

If there are any issues about disclosure we are ready to work with GAB to resolve those issues so that as much information as possible can be made available as soon as possible.

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 10:50 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says recall petitions targeting Gov. Scott Walker need to be made public.

Van Hollen commented Tuesday after the Government Accountability Board held off posting the petitions online after receiving concerns from domestic violence victims about their addresses being made public.

Van Hollen says in a statement if there are any concerns about disclosure, the Department of Justice was prepared to resolve those issues so as much information as possible can be made available as soon as possible.

The board made the petitions available to the Walker campaign on Friday and originally promised to post them online for the public to view Monday.

But board spokesman Reid Magney said Tuesday he has no comment on when they might put them online.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, January 31, 2012 --- 8:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board isn't saying if or when it will post online petitions seeking the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The board made the petitions available to the Walker campaign on Friday and promised to post them online for the public to view Monday.

But late Monday the board issued a statement saying it was not posting them so it could evaluate the privacy concerns of people who have contacted the board about putting the petitions online.

Recall petitions targeted four Republican state senators have already been posted. The board was continuing to process petitions seeking the recall of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

Board spokesman Reid Magney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED January 30, 2012 --- 5:45 p.m.

From The Government Accountability Board:

Governor Walker's recall petitions will not be posted online today.

The G.A.B. staff is evaluating the privacy concerns of individuals who have contacted us about posting the petitions online.

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UPDATED: January 30, 2012 --- 5:45 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

Last week the Government Accountability Board was very clear.

They said they had completed scanning copies of petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker and the signatures would be made available to the public, posted on their website, Monday.

Well it's Monday and tonight, still nothing.

At 5:30 the GAB released a 3 sentence statement saying, "Governor Walker's recall petitions will not be posted online today. The G.A.B. staff is evaluating the privacy concerns of individuals who have contacted us about posting the petitions online. We will not have further comment tonight."

Stacy Harbaugh with ACLU of Wisconsin says, "We really hope that privacy will be extended when it comes to these public documents that are recall petitions."

The ACLU of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence are voicing concerns about those signatures going public.

They say they'd like the GAB to strike a balance between keeping the process transparent and protecting the identities and locations of people like domestic violence and stalking victims.

Harbaugh says, "State law already provides for something called a confidential elector. That's someone who has gone through the process to file the paperwork to keep their information private on things like a poll book and we think the recall should be given the same treatment here in Wisconsin."

The ACLU has concerns about the scanned petitions going up but say what they really don't want is a search able database, making it easy to find anyone's name.

That is also planned.

Harbaugh says, "Recall petitions are public record but we also shouldn't have to give up our free speech or free assembly rights to protect our own privacy."

A few days ago the GAB did post signatures from petitions to recall several senators.

Last week the GAB said part of the problem here is if they were to try to black out certain names on the Governor petitions, first they'd have to be able to find them. They say it would take a lot of time with more than 1-million signatures turned in.

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Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 --- 4:17p.m.

Madison, WI – The Government Accountability Board today completed delivery of all digital copies of recall petitions to Governor Walker’s committee for their review.

In total, G.A.B. staff scanned more than 152,300 petition pages for the Governor’s recall, of which approximately 71,000 were delivered earlier this week. The Board has not yet estimated the number of signatures on the petitions, as the signature review process is just beginning.

The G.A.B. is currently verifying the completeness and accuracy of scanned petition pages for Lt. Governor Kleefisch, and expects to complete that work sometime next week.

On Monday, copies of the Governor’s recall petitions will be posted online at http://gab.wi.gov for public viewing. Click the link “Recall Petitions Online” on the homepage. Since the four Senate recall petitions went online last week, the website has had more than 16,000 unique visitors and more than 410,000 page views. In Wisconsin, recall petitions are public records.

Earlier this week, Judge Richard Niess granted the Board’s request for a 30-day extension to the 31-day statutory deadline for completing its review of the petitions, giving the Board a deadline of March 19. Judge Niess also granted the four Senate incumbents a total of 20 days and the Governor and Lt. Governor a total of 30 days in which to file petition challenges. The clock for challenges starts the day after the incumbent receives copies of his or her petitions.

G.A.B. workers are now reviewing petition signatures for the four Senate recall petitions and the Governor’s recall petitions. Crews will be working from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Recall petition processing is happening at an undisclosed state facility in Madison. For security reasons, the location of the processing center is not being released until all the scanned petition pages have been verified for completeness and accuracy.


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