With statewide recall petitions just posted Tuesday night, already new and confirmed reports of improprieties are coming in.
That’s right – validated instances of invalid signatures throughout the recall process. It didn't take long. I didn't figure it would.
Usually, I screen blocked calls. Not today. I had a gut feeling I should pick up. A Racine resident in Sen. Van Wanggaard's district, a volunteer petition verifier, was reviewing the searchable database of those who signed the senator's recall petition.
She couldn’t help but notice that three people listed on a document she was looking at were individuals she knew personally – and whom she knew for a fact are convicted felons.
She gave me the three names to confirm her statement for myself. And I did just that. Obviously, anyone who is forbidden to vote because of their criminal record should certainly be prohibited to sign a recall petition.
For now, I have asked my dedicated grassroots comrades to begin cross-checking Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) with every name on all petitions as they are made public.
And in just the past couple of hours, I've heard about a number of individual sheets containing the names of convicted felons, in one case as many as nine.
I'm asking petition verifiers to report these findings either to myself, my colleague Paris Procopis, or the Government Accountability Board. The Republican Party of Wisconsin will also be sent any names of such individuals of whom we become aware.
In residence but ineligible
But this poses a whole new dilemma. We in the anti-recall camp have talked a lot about out-of-state signers, made-up names like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who need to be found out and weeded out.
But here are people who can give their true names and addresses as genuine Wisconsin and senate district residents – but who, because of their criminal pasts, must be ferreted out through checks of court records.
It gets incredibly complicated because by law:
State statute 304.078(3), reading: "If a person is disqualified from voting under s. 6.03 (1) (b), his or her right to vote is restored when he or she completes the term of imprisonment or probation for the crime that led to the disqualification."
The bold italics are mine. With multitudes of felons being released early under probation – or never imprisoned at all – the GAB is not willing, or says it is not able, to do the work of verifying that these people are in fact eligible to vote.
Fortunately, we have a small army of people who are willing to do that.
My initial thoughts were that in Racine alone, there must be an epic number of convicted felons. I wonder if, in the end, the recall forces will have enough valid signatures to even trigger a recall.
And I'm not just talking about Sen. Wanggaard. I'm pretty sure nearly everyone who signed a petition against the senator also signed one against Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Our host of volunteers hasn't begun cross-checking over all three sets of documents, but I'm in no doubt of what we'll find.
Stay tuned. We will provide confirmed reports of those we find ineligible for any reason – not least because they are criminals.
To contact me to help, or with information, please e-mail me at email@example.com or Paris Procopis at firstname.lastname@example.org.