What better way to enjoy the nice weather than to head to the terrace, grab a beer and try to find all your friends, family and distant acquaintances who signed the recall petition on iverifytherecall.com? However, some news organizations and political factions are using it to unnecessarily slander names.

The information – including addresses and the dates of those who signed the petition – is all public, searchable and politically-loaded. Whether or not the petitions should be public is moot. Now that the information is widely available it must be used responsibly.

Recently, University of Wisconsin System spokesperson David Giroux came under fire after it was revealed he had signed a recall petition. While he maintained his personal and professional spheres never crossed, he said he was sorry he had signed the petition. Worse yet, he hasn’t been the only one to suffer such unwanted scrutiny.

Giroux’s response sets a dangerous precedent, not just about the petitions or the recall, but rather about the line between the personal and the professional spheres. Just as it is one’s right to vote, it is one’s right to express political opinions unless they have serious ethical or professional ramifications. Merely being in the public eye does not take away one’s right to participate in the democratic process.

A signature is not indicative of political leaning, either. Signing a petition does not necessarily mean the signer aligns with a political party. It may speak to the fact that this person wants another election and not how they might vote.

It can be hard for people to get excited or even care about voting. Government Accountability Board officials have said the date of the upcoming primary election may mean student turnout at the polls will be anemic in the wake of spring break. Signing a recall petition is the opposite of such apathy and civic lethargy, and circulating information on those who signed recall petitions will only perpetuate it.