Paul Jacob

More than a million Wisconsinites signed a petition circulated by Democrats to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker. Or, perhaps several folks signed the recall hundreds of thousands of times.

It is very likely the former, though one Milwaukee man claimed to have slapped his John Hancock on the petition 80 separate times. Either way, those signatures hit the in-baskets of state election officials this week . . . to much fanfare.

We’ll know their validity in the next month as officials check the signatures. Some duplication will show up, along with perhaps more than the usual number of gag signatures — names like Mickey Mouse or Hitler or Robert La Follette or something. Besides, Wisconsin’s rules are far more lax than most states’: any resident — registered to vote or not — may sign.

On the other hand, that’s apparently tougher than the prerequisite to actually cast a vote in the Badger State’s elections, where Illinois residents have been noticed driving north to help those cheese-heads make up their minds.

Still, the recall organizers have turned in over a million signatures to qualify for a 540,208 requirement. Those irregularities would have to be extra irregular for the recall not to qualify. Count on an election, probably in June.

Some states hold an up-or-down contest with just the office-holder being recalled on the ballot. But Wisconsin will set a new election for the office, with a likely primary to choose the Democrat, first, and then the general election with Gov. Walker against the Democrat, and any third party or independent candidates.

I’m a big fan of the power to recall politicians. It’s the most advanced form of “throw-the-bums-out democracy.” Not only did I personally work on the recall of the mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, back in 2010, I wholeheartedly cheered on California’s celebrated Gray Davis recall (in this column and elsewhere).

I think recall is used far too infrequently. Not too often. Only twice in the union’s history have governors been successfully recalled: California’s Gray Davis (2003) and North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier (1921). Both deserved it.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.