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Counting recall signatures will take longer than expected

MADISON, Wis. -- The time for collecting signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker has come to an end. But it's going to take even longer than originally expected to find out whether a recall election will actually happen.

The Government Accountability Board said determining whether enough valid signatures have been collected is going to take longer than the 60 days they originally planned. That's because a Waukesha County judge has ruled the GAB must take more proactive steps to identify and strike invalid signatures.

The organization is planning to purchase computer software to help.

"I think, given what the court said, we had to take steps to do something. And the alternative was data enter everything or we find a way to assist in that data entry, and that's really what this does," said GAB President Kevin Kennedy.

The GAB is testing out the software right now, but plans to spend $100,000 to buy and install it. Officials with the GAB said it's an expensive but necessary investment.


So what else is behind the delay? The GAB expects to evaluate 1.5 million signatures, spanning about 300,000 petition pages. That's the same number of pages as 200 copies of the lengthy novel "War and Peace."

Each of those petition pages will be reviewed by at least two people, in addition to the software's evaluation.

"And that's really the only way we can do that, is to make sure we have names into a database," said Kennedy.

Even though the results won't be known for months, Republicans said they're already gearing up for another campaign.

"I don't really doubt that they'll collect 540,000 signatures. Even after we go through and eliminate the duplicates, I think they'll still have the signatures. So we're ready to re-elect our governor, Scott Walker," said La Crosse County Republican Chair Bill Feehan.

The GAB is in the process of hiring up to 50 temporary employees to help review all those signatures. Anyone who has made contributions to a partisan candidate in the past year, or who has signed or circulated a recall petition, will not be eligible for one of those positions.

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