Wisconsin residents have been asking varying questions about the recall election. Here are a few answers to some of them.
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WHAT IS A RECALL?
According to the Government Accountability Board, a recall gives voters the right to reconsider their choice of an elected official; however, it does not automatically result in removal of an official from office. It provides an opportunity for voters to require an elected official to run for office again before the expiration of his or her term.
An official must be in office for one year before a recall can be initiated.
The number of signatures required to trigger a recall is one-quarter of the number of votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. The requirements for initiating recall efforts are very specific and must be carefully followed, the GAB said. Anyone considering conducting a recall petition effort should contact the GAB. staff at 608-266-8005.
WHEN WILL RECALL ELECTIONS BE HELD?
The Government Accountability Board has certified six recall elections for Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators.
The general recall election is set for June 5.
Republican Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau was facing a recall election but announced she is resigning from office. The election for Galloway's open Senate seat will also be held on June 5.
TOP 10 THINGS A WISCONSIN VOTER SHOULD KNOW FOR ELECTION DAY:
The Government Accountability Board has released its list of the top 10 things a Wisconsin voter should know for the recall election on Tuesday, June 5.
The No. 1 thing voters should keep in mind is to be patient and use common sense, said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB.
"The eyes of the nation will be on Wisconsin in the coming days, and we realize this recall election is an intense time for the voters, for election officials and the candidates," Kennedy said. "But whether it's exercising some patience while waiting in line to vote or using some common sense about not wearing campaign apparel or buttons to the polling place, people can make this election a lot easier on themselves and everyone else involved."
No. 2: Voters should know their rights and responsibilities before heading out to the polls, Kennedy said, which includes the ability to register to vote on Election Day. A list of voting rights and responsibilities is attached, and also available here: http://gab.wi.gov/rights.
"Election Day registration ensures that everyone who is qualified to vote will get to vote," said Kennedy. "Unlike many other states, Wisconsin has registration at the polls, so very few voters will likely be forced to vote a provisional ballot."
To register on Election Day, Wisconsin voters must provide proof of residence, which includes a current utility bill, lease, university ID card or other official document showing the voter's name and current address. Voters who have a valid Wisconsin driver's license or state ID card will be required to use their license number to complete the registration form. Otherwise, they may use the last four digits of their Social Security number.
3. Voters can check their registration status with their municipal clerk, or on the state's Voter Public Access website: https://vpa.wi.gov.
Elections Division Administrator Nat Robinson encourages registered voters to double-check their registration online. The site allows voters to look up their voter registration information, sample ballot information and polling place locations.
"Voter Public Access is very handy, and connects directly to the data in the Statewide Voter Registration System," Robinson said. "If you don’t find your registration information, call the municipal clerk's office and make sure you’re ready for Tuesday. But if you are not on the list, don’t worry. You can still register on Election Day at the polling place."
4. Voters should know what to do if they run into a problem at the polls. "First, ask for the Chief Inspector," Robinson said. "If you are not satisfied, check with your municipal clerk. If the problem involves possible election crimes, contact your local police department or district attorney’s office. If you are still not satisfied, contact our office to file a complaint or leave a comment.”"
"If you see voter fraud, voter intimidation, electioneering or misconduct by election officials, we want to hear about it," said Robinson. "Voters can go online and report problems at http://gab.wi.gov/complaints, or they can call 1-866-VOTE-WIS."
5. Photo ID is not required: Wisconsin's Voter Photo ID Law has been enjoined by the courts, and an ID is not required of voters at the clerk’s office for in-person absentee voting or at the polling place on Election Day. However, a driver license or state ID number is necessary to register to vote or to prove residency when registering on Election Day if the address on the license or ID is current.
6. Election observers are welcome in Wisconsin: Election observers are welcome at every polling place, but they must follow the instructions of the chief election inspector, and may not interact with voters. Rules for election observers are available at the polling place and on the G.A.B. website: http://gab.wi.gov/clerks/education-training/election-observers.
7. Ballot mistakes are not fatal: If you make a mistake when voting, you may ask for a new paper ballot, up to a total of three. In the case of touch-screen voting equipment, the voter will be able to review ballot choices before affirming the final vote.
8. Leave political items at home: Voters are asked not to wear political clothing or paraphernalia to the polling place on Election Day. The chief election inspector may ask voters to leave the polling place if they are judged to be electioneering or creating a disturbance.
9. Get in line before the polls close: Voters standing in line waiting to vote when the polling place closes at 8 p.m. on Election Day will be permitted to vote.
10. Rules for challenging a voter: There are specific criteria and limitations on challenging a person's eligibility to vote. The chief election inspector can explain the challenge process and provide the voter and the challenger with explanatory documents.
WHO IS FACING RECALL AND WHO ARE THE CHALLENGERS?
Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a recall election. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary and will face Walker in the recall election.
Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is also facing a recall election. Democrat Mahlon Mitchell, a Madison firefighter and the leader of the statewide firefighters' union, is running against Kleefisch.
Kleefisch and Walker will appear separately on the ballot for the recall election. That means the recalls could give the state a governor and lieutenant governor from opposing parties.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, is facing a recall election. His Democratic challenger is Lori Compas, a photographer from Fort Atkinson.
Republican Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls is facing a recall election. Former state Rep. Kristen Dexter, an Eau Claire Democrat, is running against Moulton in the recall election.
Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard of Racine is facing a recall election. Former state Sen. John Lehman, a Racine Democrat, is running against Wanggaard.
Republican Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau was facing a recall election but announced she is resigning from office, citing illnesses in her family. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski, a Marathon Republican, is running for Galloway's open Senate seat in this spring's recalls. State Rep. Donna Seidel, a Wausau Democrat, will face Petrowski in the race for the open Senate seat.
WHEN WOULD CANDIDATES WHO LOSE RECALL ELECTIONS LEAVE OFFICE?
Losers could get up to two-and-a-half weeks to leave their jobs and winners will serve until after regular elections roll around again in 2014.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW VOTER ID LAW?
Wisconsin's new voter ID law requires that voters show approved photo ID at the polls, beginning with the Spring Primary in February of 2012.
But the voter ID law likely won't be in effect for the recall elections after judges issued orders in two cases blocking the law. Wisconsin's Department of Justice has appealed the injunctions.
Wisconsin law requires the Department of Transportation to provide free ID cards to any individual who will be at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election and who requests a free ID for the purpose of voting. The regular fee is $28.
For information about getting a state identification card, visit the DOT's website at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm.
More information outlining the voter ID law can be found here: http://gab.wi.gov/sites/default/files/publication/137/voter_photo_id_law_9_7_11_pdf_19983.pdf.
HOW DO I KNOW THAT A PETITION IS LEGITIMATE AND WILL BE TURNED IN TO THE GAB?
According to the Government Accountability Board, the responsibility is on the circulator to submit any signatures they collect on a recall petition.
"If they are collecting signatures, those signatures are not their property and they must be turned in on penalty of law," said Kevin Kennedy, GAB director.
WHAT HAPPENS IF PETITIONS AREN'T TURNED IN, OR ARE DESTROYED?
The GAB reminds that election fraud, including destroying or not turning in circulated petitions, is a Class I Felony, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
WHERE CAN PETITIONS BE CIRCULATED?
GAB officials said that public places like the Capitol Square or city sidewalks are fair game and anyone can have the right to circulate petitions there.
At issue, however, are places that the public might access, like shopping malls or parking lots, which are technically private property. Circulators should have permission from any property owners to offer petitions, or could be asked to leave.
Other local government buildings, like schools, libraries or municipal buildings the GAB says are also subject to local guidelines, and don't necessarily mean groups have access.
Here is the GAB's issued opinion on the issue in a downloadable document (PDF Format)
HOW MUCH COULD THE ELECTION COST?
The GAB's estimate of their administrative costs is $652,699. They are gathering costs for an actual recall election from local governments and will have it by the end of November.
HOW LONG DO ORGANIZERS OF THE RECALL HAVE TO TURN IN PETITIONS?
The group United Wisconsin filed for recall at midnight on Nov. 15, 2011. The deadline for submitting more than 540,000 signatures was on Jan. 17, 2012.
Find more information from the GAB on the recall at this GAB site.