United Wisconsin, the union-led group seeking to recall Gov. Scott Walker, has turned in 1 million signatures in an attempt to trigger a recall election later this year. The million-signature mark is well above the 540,000-signature threshold union members needed to force an election. The state Government Accountability Board (GAB), per a Waukesha County judge’s ruling, will now start verifying the signatures to ensure their validity.
Walker is being subjected to a recall election based on his 2011 law to all but eliminate collective bargaining for public employees. Walker also made paying union dues optional for public workers, greatly weakening the unions’ ability to raise and spend funds during election season.
United Wisconsin also announced they have collected 845,000 signatures to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and have met the threshold to recall four Republican state senators.
Recall organizers are urging the GAB to call an election as soon as possible, presumably once 540,000 valid signatures are found. The GAB faced controversy in December when they announced that all signatures would be given the presumption of validity — meaning bogus names like “Adolph Hitler” and “Mickey Mouse” would count until challenged by Walker. Elections officials also said individuals could sign as many times as they wanted, and it would be up to Walker to weed out the extras, leading one man to brag that he signed 80 times. Today, Democrats said their signature total excludes duplicates and fraudulent names, although they conceded “some might slip through.”
No Democrat has announced they will be running against Walker, although unions have been working behind the scenes to urge notable Democrats to run. Names being mentioned include former congressman David Obey, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, State Senator Tim Cullen, and former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk. In a radio interview this morning, Walker said he expected the recall election to take place in late June or early July, depending on whether there will be a Democratic primary.
The recall election is expected to cost between $9 million and $20 million. Wisconsin’s voting-age population currently stands at around 4.3 million people, meaning less than 25 percent of eligible citizens signed a recall petition.
— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and a co-author of the Campaign Manager Survey.