Saturday, February 11, 2012

My little bit for democracy

I took the opportunity to chip in today to the recall effort by heading over to the AFSCME building on Madison's West side for a few hours today. Here's a bit of a rundown on what's going on from the pro-recall side.

First of all, the place was PACKED. The Dems and recall forces are asking for people to bring their own laptops to plug into the database because they don't have enough to go around. There were so many volunteers today that they were practically out of space for people to fill in names and rebut challenges to signatures. And others were signing up for the next 2 weeks to enter data and respond to more challenges, and the atmosphere was postive and upbeat. Pretty inspiring to see ages across the spectrum (from college to seniors) all chipping in to do their part, and unlike the Tea Baggers brought in from out of state for the GOP, we were all locals and none of us were gettin paid (though props to the recall folks for supplying some Subway and soda).

For the Senate recalls, they're checking on challenges by GOP Senators afraid of facing the music. Most of these involve some kind of complaint about illegible signatures or addresses, or include an absurd argument that the new district lines should be in force, and therefore a sizable amount of the signatures are invalid because they're in the old districts. This argument is laughable on its face, because the GAB ruled 4 months ago that Senate recalls were in the current districts, not the new ones made up in the redistricting bill. And the basis for that GAB ruling was....The redistricting bill itself, which said the new districts only take effect for the November elections. (you know, the one done in secret with only GOP legislators attending?)

Anyway, the first part of my job was to look at a handful of signatures in Scott Fitzgerald's district that are being challenged due to allegedly unreadable signatures. A cursory look at these 3 could tell you these 3 are legit (albeit 1 was really poorly written), and any miswritings are noted and initialed. If this is what that tub of goo is relying on to save his ass from recall, he may as well expect to face the voters now.

Others in today's group were checking alleged duplicate signatures or "out-of-district" claims. Most seemed to be easy to refute, and they will stand. Heck, Fitz himself is already admitting the other 3 Senators will be recalled, but he's trying to lie his way out of being Number 4. Maybe if we sued the pig for wasting the time of Dems and taxpayer-funded courts, he'd learn something about how lame his whining is, but I'm guessing he;s too far gone to get it.

The main part of my time there was spent entering data about those who signed the recall petition against Walker. Most of the 140 or so signatures I looked at were from Milwaukee, and we were checking to see if the Dems already had data on the person as a previous contact and/or voter, and if not, we added these people to a contact list. This will help the Dems track them down and remind them to get the vote out when they get the chance to finally send Walker out of office, which could play major dividends for the many elections we will be having in 2012. In addition, we gave a check on the signatures to see if they had any chance of being turned down, and flagged and noted items such as incomplete addresses or illegible writing or something similar.

This goes along with the GAB standard of rejecting (or not rejecting) signatures, which is a looser standard than the Journal-Sentinel's random check that showed only 15% of recall sigs could even be questioned, easily guaranteeing that Walker will face another election. Remember, that 15% includes people who may be living with roomates, people who recently moved to an area, and people who may never have voted in the past but are eligible to do so, and all would be legitimate signatures under the GAB rules (as they damn well should be, given that they've done nothing to lose their RIGHT to vote). Based on the brief study I made of the 140 signatures I entered, I'd estimate that 8-10 were questionable, due to problems such as illegible names and addresses, and the one guy who just signed it "Ricardo" but gave a full address and other sorts of information.

It was a very neat exercise in guaranteeing democracy for people, and I highly recommend others give it a shot if you have a chance. I got a good look at the cross-section of people who took the time to sign recall petitions (lots of them seemed to be at family gatherings or through other groups of mutual friends), and it makes you realize that there's a big world of potential voters that can be tapped and can make a difference, if they're given a reason to do so. It's just a matter of reaching them and realizing that they do matter, and if the Dems do that, I don't see how the GOP can match those numbers.

We have the grassroots, we have the passion, and we have the people. We just gotta execute and finish the job.

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