It's April 5th, a big day in Wisconsin political activism. I've voted already, and I'm now preparing to collect recall signatures at a rural polling place. It doesn't really matter where that is, other than a Wisconsin Senate district represented by a Republican Senator who voted for Walker's union-busting and so-much-more bill.
With maps and petition forms in hand, I just wanted a few more copies of the GAB's (Government Accountability Board) "Circulating Recall Petitions at a Polling Place" memorandum. I saved the link, which represents a high level of organization for me.
But wait - it's gone now. What up with that?
Maybe I'm just overreacting here, but I'm wondering who "got to" Wisconsin's GAB.
On the Morning of Monday, March 30, I saw the GAB's "Circulating Recall Petitions at a Polling Place" memorandum here. But, as you can see, it's no longer there.
Page not found The requested page could not be found.
No further instructions or links are noted here, as a conscientious manager might have done.
Now, you have to go through this page, "About Recalls in Wisconsin". Scroll down and to the right to find the topic , "Circulating Recall Petitions at a Polling Place", which opens to this page, "Circulating Recall Petitions at a Polling Place / Amended".
Open that, and you're looking at
"Please Note: The first, second, and fifth points of this guidance have been modified from the guidance posted on March 29th to better reflect current law and the formal opinion cited below."
The amended document is now only available as a link on that page.
The primary change is that now, the phrase, "subject to any separate rules governing the use of and access to the property" has been added to the original.
"It is permissible to circulate a petition at the polling place if it is unrelated to the candidate contests/referenda on the ballot.
Circulators must refrain from "campaign activity" for any contest on the ballot while on public property within 100 feet of a polling place."
Amended, my emphasis:
"It is permissible to circulate a petition within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place if it is unrelated to the candidate contests/referenda on the ballot, subject to any separate rules governing the use of and access to the property."
The added phrase pretty much trashes the entire "permissible" concept, making the collection practice subject to the whims of local elections officials, at least on whatever property the polling place is in or on.
A petition circulator can certainly "take it down the road" now, as they ever could. But that leaves them subject to the whims of local law enforcement and their personal ideas of "public" property and what constitutes "disruptive" actions. I've been down that dead-end road myself; that's another whole story, and I don't want to re-live it right now.
This "amended" phrase added after the GAB independently and of it's own accord offered the memorandum on March 29, does not pass my smell test. There must have been feedback to prompt the changes, and I'd like to know where that feedback came from.
Anybody out there adept at filing FOIA's interested in the email communications of the GAB between the times of the original and amended memoranda?
I'd like to know.
Sorry I can't stick around long to field comments, but I've got a now uncertain task ahead, and hope my actions aren't going to be subject to many more "amendments". Seems we've had to deal with more than our share of those around Wisconsin lately, and that's exactly what we're taking action against.
Wish me luck. The good stuff.