Wisconsin Officials Get More Time to Study Recall Petitions

Wisconsin election officials were given 11 more days to review petitions seeking the recall of Governor Scott Walker, according to a copy of an agreement provided by the state attorney general’s office.

Walker, a first-term Republican, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators, including Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, are the targets of the recall drive started after Fitzgerald secured the passage of a bill limiting public employee collective bargaining rights, signed by the governor a year ago.

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board sought an extension of the March 19 deadline so that it could complete its review of petition signatures. State Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess in Madison ratified the extension today, the agency said in a press statement.

“The board will meet March 30 to certify the results,” Reid Magney, a GAB spokesman, said in a phone interview.

If the board, which administers state elections, finds a sufficient number of valid signatures have been collected, there would be a primary election on May 8. Walker and the other officials would then face a recall election on June 5, he said. If there is no primary in any of the races, the May date will be for the final election.

Additional Time

Lawyers for the officeholders agreed to the additional time yesterday, submitting to Niess their signed stipulation for his approval.

Valid signatures from 540,208 people, one quarter of the voters who cast ballots in the November 2010 election that propelled Walker into office, are required to trigger a run-off, according to the Government Accountability Board website.

As of March 12, 931,042 Walker recall signatures had been submitted, of which 905,547 were deemed valid, the board said in a statement, adding that it sought additional time to review the petitions for duplicate signatures.

Cullen Werwie, a spokesman for Walker, referred requests for comment to Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks.

“A statewide recall election comes as a significant burden to state and local taxpayers with a cost of $9 million for a single statewide election,” Sparks said in a phone interview. “We urge the GAB to see that all of these elections are held on a single given day.”

Sufficient Signatures

While the board said petitioners have collected sufficient signatures to cause recall elections for Fitzgerald and three other state senators, it hasn’t yet certified those results. Doing so would have mandated setting an election date for those seats on the Tuesday of the sixth week after certification.

“This scenario allows all the recall elections to be consolidated on two dates, saving taxpayers additional costs had the elections been held on different schedules,” Kevin Kennedy, the board’s director and general counsel, said today in the statement.

Dan Romportl, executive director for the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, said the party and the office holders had anticipated such a contest and that they were confident they would prevail.

“We’re absolutely feeling good going into this,” he said.

Brad Wojciechowski, spokesman for the Wisconsin Senate Democrats, said there’s no more than one Democratic candidate in each senate district. He added that candidates don’t declare until the Government Accountability Board certifies the results.

Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Senator Kathleen Vinehout, both Democrats, have said they plan to seek Walker’s job.

The case is In Re Petitions to Recall Governor Scott Walker, 2012-cv-0295, Dane County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court (Madison).

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