Psst! Wisconsin reveals secret location of recall petitions
Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, the agency checking and rechecking the recall petitions that have rocked the state’s political world, outed itself Monday.
In media tours, the agency disclosed that it was tabulating the petitions in an aging, white brick building about two miles from the state Capitol. The agency has broadcast the tedious office activities via webcam, but Monday’s tours were the first time the precise location has been identified, said board spokesman Reid Magney in a telephone interview.
“This is a very emotional issue in Wisconsin,” he said of the petitions seeking to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four GOP state senators.
“After consulting with the Capitol police, we decided to not disclose the location until we had secured all copies of the petitions. We completed that a little more than a week ago. Today was the first day we could bring people in, so we made it public,” he said.
It was the need for securing the documents in a large space that forced the board to seek more room, rather than any fear of needed security to handle possible protests, Magney said.
The building is an old industrial facility in Madison, he said. It is used by the state for vehicle fleet services, some printing and some mail sorting. It was chosen because there was already vacant space available in the building, which has a chain link fence with barbed wire outside.
“We don’t anticipate that a lot people will show up,” Magney said. “There isn’t much to see from the outside.”
Inside, about four dozen workers are going through about 1.9 million signatures, assessing the documents for technical errors such as incomplete or missing addresses.
The board is supposed to complete its examination and certify the petitions by March 19, though more time could be available if needed, Magney said.
If there is an election, it could be held as soon as six weeks later. But if a primary is needed, the date will be pushed back. There are also possible court challenges.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Wisconsin officials identified this government building as the site where recall petitions are being reviewed. Credit: Scott Bauer / Associated Press