Why should the courts toss a Republican lawsuit to force the Government Accountability Board to do a more careful review of the signatures on recall petitions? Ask Scott Walker.

As in Scott Walker of Sturgeon Bay, or Scott Walker of Boscobel or any of the other 28 Scott Walkers in Wisconsin I found listed in an Internet directory who are not the Republican governor. 

Because if Republicans are going to argue that "Mickey Mouse" and "Adolf Hitler" are fake signatures and that the GAB should spend taxpayer dollars striking them and other obvious fakes from the petitions, where does it stop?

Shouldn't the GAB also think twice whether a "Scott Walker" signature is really from one of those other Scott Walkers and not from some anonymous wag?

Moreover, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Smiths and Johnsons in Wisconsin. If you're afraid to sign your real surname or want to sign multiple petitions, why not use one of these?

And then there's the whole practical joker factor. You might be suspicious if a signer's last name suggests a part of the human body not usually mentioned in polite company, but there it is in the Madison phone book. And what to do with the other, but no less real, Paul Newmans, Tom Hanks and Homer Simpsons of the state (assuming any of them would sign the petition)?

My point is, if a political party wants taxpayers to fund government activities that mainly go to serve the party's narrow interests, then the party should pay for them. 

And that goes beyond just taking a fine-toothed comb to petition signatures.

Next year, a historic spat between our two main political parties and their moneyed interests will almost certainly result in a series of electoral do-overs. And if last summer's nine senate recall elections are any guide, anywhere from a third to more than half of eligible voters won't bother to participate in them — although they'll still have to help pay for them.

The GAB hasn't come up with an estimate of the cost to taxpayers of recall elections for the governor, lieutenant governor and a handful of senators. But last summer's recalls cost taxpayers $2.1 million and the GAB is already estimating it will cost about $650,000 just to do a basic review of petition signatures.

It's become fashionable among Republicans to blame such costs on Democrats, and, indeed, the recalls wouldn't be imminent if not for the money and muscle of the Democratic party.

But Democrats are enraged because Republicans took the extreme political step of torpedoing one of their prime sources of strength — public sector unions — so I figure both parties are reasonably to blame for the whole recall fiasco.

There isn't a law against voluntary donations to state government, after all, and it's not as if they don't have the money. Walker's campaign has already raised $5.1 million and Democrats and their "nonpartisan" recall partner United Wisconsin have raised $1.48 million.

Clearly, they know how expensive democracy is; perhaps they wouldn't mind helping to pay for it.

Contact Chris Rickert at 608-252-6198 or crickert@madison.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisRickertWSJ). His column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

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