Despite conservatives' fears of an army of Mickey Mouses and Adolf Hitlers signing recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker, elections officials found only five fake names and nearly 901,000 valid signatures collected to recall the Republican governor — far more than enough needed for the election to go forward.
The state Government Accountability Board is scheduled to meet Friday morning to vote on the findings of board staff and set dates for the recall elections.
GAB staff said in a memo released Thursday that 900,938 valid signatures were collected on petitions seeking to recall Walker, and about 808,990 were gathered on those seeking to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. The minimum needed to trigger a recall was 540,208 signatures for each of them.
If the board orders elections on Friday as expected, recall primary elections — if necessary — are expected to be held on May 8, followed by a June 5 general election. At least three Democrats are running for governor, and another three have said they are running for lieutenant governor, making primaries likely. Four Republican senators also face recall.
Recall organizers began circulating petitions in mid-November and submitted the signatures in mid-January. Elections officials were granted two extensions to review the signatures, a task that was conducted at a for-a-time-undisclosed state facility in Madison under tight security. The findings from the GAB's review was reported in Thursday's memo.
Elections officials said that during that review they found just five fake names of the 931,053 submitted on the Walker petitions: Adolf Hitler, Mick E. Mous, Donald L. Duck, Fungky Van Den Elzen, and I Love Scott Walker Thanks.
Staff also identified 4,001 duplicate names, and struck 26,109 incomplete signatures. Staff recommended striking just over 30,000 signatures from Walker's petitions, or about 3 percent of the total number of signatures submitted. Similarly, they suggested striking about 33,000 signatures from Kleefisch petitions because of duplicates or incomplete signatures.
Several other names that GAB staff members flagged as potentially fictitious were found in the statewide voter registration database or telephone directories, including Princess High and Mohammed Ali, the memo said.
If Walker loses the election, Walker would be the first Wisconsin governor, and only the third governor in the United States, to be recalled. He would join California Gov. Gray Davis and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier.
"This was the greatest petition campaign in American history for a reason: Scott Walker's radical overreach and abuse of power," said Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. "Tomorrow will be a day for sober reflection on the work done and the great work left to do to restore Wisconsin's values."
But Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said the governor was expecting this and is ready to defend his record.
"We have long said that we anticipated the election process would move forward," she said. "Gov. Walker looks forward to contrasting his record of laying the foundation for a more successful Wisconsin while moving the state forward against the Democrats' failed policies."
The board has already found enough valid signatures were collected on petitions that aim to recall four Republican state senators: Scott Fitzgerald, Van Wanggaard, Terry Moulton, and Pam Galloway. Galloway has resigned from the Senate, citing illnesses in her family.
The senators' recall elections would be on the same two dates — May 8 and June 5 — as the Walker and Kleefisch recalls.
Candidates wishing to run have until April 10 to file nomination papers.