After massive protests at the Capitol last spring, Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents jumped at the chance to begin collecting signatures to trigger his recall.
Starting at midnight on Nov. 15, recall supporters held pajama parties throughout Wisconsin to kick off the official recall effort. Four days later, one official recall group, United Wisconsin, reported collecting about 105,000 of the roughly 540,000 signatures they need by Jan. 17 to obtain a recall election.
Two weeks after they started collecting signatures, United Wisconsin reported they had collected more than 300,000 signatures.
Petitioners not only circulated documents calling for a recall of Walker, but have also circulated petitions to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
Recall efforts against four state senators – Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls and Majority Leader Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau – were also launched. Approximately 15,000 signatures need to be collected for each election within the same 60-day period.
Following the beginning of the recall effort, both Walker supporters and recall supporters accused one another of committing crimes.
Recall petitioners reported Walker supporters tearing up ballots that contained signatures or crossing out signatures. Others reported assaults by Walker supporters and stolen “Recall Walker” signs.
One Wisconsin Now, a left-leaning nonprofit, created a $10,000 reward fund for any information leading to the arrest of people who deface or destroy petitions.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin also reported people signing their family members’ names to petitions or signing multiple petitions in different districts, including a Milwaukee man who claimed to have signed various recall petitions 80 times.
Recall groups have said they are only concerned with gathering signatures and have not chosen any candidates yet to run against Walker if they collect enough signatures. Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, has expressed an interest in running.
The Government Accountability Board, in charge of counting and verifying recall petitions, plans to ask the courts for an extension for the period of time they have to verify the signatures and anticipate counting 1.5 million signatures in the recall of both Walker and Kleefisch.