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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast

What's in a Challenge?

CREATED Feb 2, 2012
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I am not a lawyer. I did not take the LSAT. I did not pass the Bar Exam.

That said, I’ve been around the recall rodeo a few times, and thought I’d take a moment to explain, the best I can, the verification and challenge process we keep talking about on the news.

Organizers submitted more than one million signatures in an effort to recall Governor Scott Walker. The final count of valid signatures will most certainly be less. This is the process in which officials with the Government Accountability Board, recall organizers, as well as volunteers and attorneys with the Walker Campaign are fully engaged.

Volunteers for Governor Walker are flagging problematic signatures on the copies of the petitions they’ve been given. Those will then be investigated further by attorneys and potentially challenged as to whether or not they’ll count.

So what might constitute a challenge? I pulled a couple examples off copies of some of the petitions. The first photo shows what, in my opinion, are two signatures that could be thrown out if challenged.  Entries #4 and #5 on this list are missing some important things.

Let’s start with #5.

ET. That’s it for the name? Is your name ET? Are those your initials? Did you phone home? You’re supposed to print your name first. Next line you’re supposed to sign your name. This person went 0-2. That’s a challenge the Walker folks might win.

Back to #4. This challenge is a little tougher since you appear to have a legitimate signature. Illegible as it may be, it’s still signed. It is, however, signed in the wrong spot, and without a printed name to help verify. I really don’t know which way this one could go.

Next picture.

Check out #5. You’ve got all the information, just not in the right spots. Lucia here signed her name where she should have printed it, and printed her name where she should have signed it. She also put her street address where her city and zip code should be and vice versa.

The Walker camp could certainly challenge. This, however, would be the definition of a challenge “on a technicality.” My opinion (again… not a lawyer… just covered lots of recalls) is that this type of challenge does not usually result in the name being stricken. Provided the name checks out and the address checks out, the court is not inclined to disenfranchise an otherwise qualified elector’s intent due to an obvious technical error.

Remember the phrase, “divine the intent of the voter,” from the FLA recount in the 2000 presidential election? All those workers were peeking at ballots, trying to examine whether a person meant to fill in this circle or that one. Their eyes bulged as they decided whether the voter was trying to punch this chad or that chad with another chad left hanging. The effort was to try to find a way to make the vote count… not find a way to disqualify it. That’s been my experience with signatures too.  

So that’s my two cents on the one million that may ultimately be eight or nine hundred thousand. It appears both Governor Walker’s supporters and recall organizers agree on one thing. The number will be sufficient to force another election for governor. 

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