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Recall Scott Walker Petitions Should Be Made Public

January 30, 2012

Late on Monday it was announced that the Government Accountability Board will not be putting the signatures of those who signed petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker on their website until privacy concerns are addressed.

There are those who will try to turn this matter of making the names public into a partisan matter.  But at the end of the day it is not a Republican vs. Democratic issue.  If people try to do this, regardless of party, they should be labeled as mere fans of partisanship.  The reason I say this so strongly is that there is a larger issue to be considered that rises above politics when it comes to the names of the petition signers.

At the end of the day the need for the names of those who petitioned their government to proceed with a recall of an elected official to be made public is to preserve an open and clean government.

I feel that when one lobbies in any fashion for the government to take an action that should be public knowledge.  Consider the opposite route.

The consequences of using clout and money to lobby in private runs counter to the larger openness that our government should strive to maintain.  If one follows this train of thought then it is only logical that the same holds true for the individual who signs a petition concerning a heated issue such as the recall of a sitting governor.

This really should not become a conservative vs. liberal issue in our state.  It would be sad if it does as it means we are even more partisan than I fear we have become.

I would hope that we all could rise to an understanding why a strict adherence to higher ideals about the need for openness when petitioning the government should be observed.  This seems to me one of those foundational cornerstones that makes our democracy credible.

If one can not stand in the light of day to their convictions that they petition the government about, then perhaps there is a problem with the position that they are privately taking.  That should be the model of our convictions today.  I am proud to have signed the petition and care not if it is printed in the press, or seen in the public square.

I understand that there are those who have made threats and are using office rumors to perhaps intimidate petition signers in the work place.  If there are threats made they should be reported to the authorities. (And the media.)

But the higher ideals of our state and the political process can not be made hostage to the fears of retaliation.  If that had been the case at the beginning of our national story Thomas Jefferson would never have set quill to parchment.

Would it not be great if in the face of this most partisan of moments in Wisconsin we all could recognize a higher calling and agree on one thing.

Let it be the need to strive to keep our government open and transparent, and therefore insure that the petition signers names are made public.

13 Comments
  1. Rolf Rodefeld permalink
    January 31, 2012 4:19 PM

    If only people knew, there are multiple programs available to translate PDF’s into searchable documents. SIGH!

    Apparently ignorance IS BLISS.

    p.s. For those who didn’t read closely, I only said the addresses of confidential voters needed to be suppressed. Their signatures & printed names do not need to be suppressed. The GAB maintains the list of confidential voters and should be able sort through the list quickly to “black out” the addresses of voters on the state wide confidential list. And yes, the GAB has already purchased the software to turn the lists into a machine readable list (actually a database), and actually do most of the “heavy lifting” in terms of verifying signatures and addresses by comparing it with the state wide voter registration list.

  2. January 31, 2012 1:15 PM

    Governor Walker turned a $3 billion deficit into a $300 million surplus IN ONE YEAR. Imagine what he could do in an entire term. But no, the unions think this sort of economic turnaround is a bad thing. The people of Wisconsin should suffer; as long as the union coffers are full. This is what’s destroying America, folks.

    I don’t for the life of me understand why a “recall” is even being considered for Governor Scott Walker.

  3. Danre permalink
    January 31, 2012 10:40 AM

    From the GAB website. It has been no secret that these were going to be online, so anyone who says they did not know are only guilty of being ignorant, The TWO keywords below are PUBLIC RECORDS

    “In Wisconsin, election petitions have always been public records, and the Government Accountability Board previously published the 2011 State Senate recall petitions online in the interest of promoting transparency.

    Rather than requiring individuals to request copies, the G.A.B. is again publishing the 2012 recall petitions online due to the high public demand to inspect the current recall petitions, the compressed time period for reviewing petitions, and the time-consuming task of burning CDs. The petition copies online are images, and are not computer-searchable”

  4. Rolf Rodefeld permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:45 AM

    Apparently many people are not aware that a court order is a court order. These unfortunate victims addresses can NOT be made public. I am a Chief Election Inspector, with more than 30 years of experience as such. I do not have access to a confidential voters address. Confidential voters names (names + voter number only) are listed on a separate page in each Registered voter ward listing. The only people who have access to these address are authorized staff of the state GAB. They are the only people who can verify these signatures, not the Democratic Party, nor the Republican Party, nor any volunteer organization. Some how, some folks think the to be a victim of a crime, one should lose some or all of their basic civil rights. SHAME ON YOU

  5. January 31, 2012 8:45 AM

    One person who is raising a concern is the victim of domestic violence and wasn’t aware that her address would be published online.

    While I agree with most of what you say in this post, it is hard to argue against her fears. I have no problem with someone who wishes to have their address redacted while their name remains on the public record…after all, even John Hancock didn’t sign his name AND address for everyone to see 😉

  6. Danre permalink
    January 31, 2012 7:31 AM

    Sorry Alan then they should not signing a public record.

  7. January 31, 2012 5:18 AM

    They should be public but that does not mean they have to be posted on-line to be used willy nilly by anyone. Verify- the -vote can come to Madison and use a specific building just like GAB is doing now. No need to sprawl the names across America.

  8. Gern Blanston permalink
    January 31, 2012 3:18 AM

    and I’d like also to say you are naive in the extreme. and I mean EXTREME
    I can’t imagine you have survived past age 20. How did you manage that?
    “Report to the authorities and media” oh for crying out LOUD.
    Say, I hear that some black people have had some trouble now ant then too…. I bet if THEY REPORTED IT, or maybe if someone REPORTED discrimination based on sexual orientation why Gosh Golly Beave, the problems would all be solved in a heartbeat. I suppose if someone REPORTED abuse by priests it would be taken care of. Or maybe someone could REPORT a huge oil spill in the Gulf, or unfathomable amounts of DOCUMENTED financial corruption and law-breaking.
    Too bad no one REPORTS. You should do that, yeah, call the “authorities”, call the MEDIA. Report.

  9. Gern Blanston permalink
    January 31, 2012 3:05 AM

    This is nuts. I would not have signed the stupid thing if I EVER thought my name would be made public. It’s nice you Ivory Tower people can yap about “higher ideals and ‘standing by convictions”. But you don’t get harassed apparently. I honestly will never sign another political petition again.
    Back before Internet etc, people had to make a HUGE effort to go find out anything, Now you can just sit in your room and search people out. ?????!!!!
    In case you haven’t been paying attention to News AT ALL. these issues are getting ugly and personal.
    I WISH I NEVER SIGNED and I really would like to take back my name. I wasn’t going to do it at all (sign), but someone really asked me to like it was important to them so I did.
    Take my name off take my name off. I don’t even write letter to the editor anymore. Nor will I at all.
    Never
    Again

  10. Alan permalink
    January 30, 2012 10:46 PM

    The addresses of confidential registered voters should be suppressed. These are people who have court orders of protection based on domestic or other abuse. The are on the public poll lists, but there addresses are not publicly available.

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