FOX6 visits location where GAB is reviewing recall petitions

MADISON -- In a nondescript brick building surrounded by a barbed wire fence and guarded by the Capitol Police, the future of the recall effort is being determined. For the first time, FOX6's cameras went inside the formerly secret location where recall petitions are being analyzed by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

It was a month in the making, but now, the GAB recall review facility is public. 50 temporary employees are reviewing nearly 300,000 pages of petitions filed to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators.

Each recall worker must follow a general procedure to review these petitions, and reviewers can only use red pen. They make check marks next to signatures not counted, or blank lines. They are to write question marks next to questionable lines, and when they finish reviewing each page, they have to write the number of signatures in the top right hand corner.

FOX6 News toured on Monday the previously undisclosed location. It was originally visible only through the GAB's web cam. "With the web cam, the joke is you're watching paint dry. We're trying to add to the transparency of the process. We appreciate people's patience. It was very important to us while we were scanning the petitions, to keep this an undisclosed location. We were very concerned about the safety of our employees, given the volatility of the rhetoric around this whole initiative," Kevin Kennedy, the executive director of the Government Accountability Board said.

In the first phase of the GAB review, all of the petitions were scanned into a computer system to create digital copies. Until that was done, the location of the facility was kept secret. Now, the GAB is publicizing the location of the petition review facility. It's a Department of Administration building on  202 S. Thorton St. in Madison.

The paper copies of the petitions are being kept in 18 file cabinets, each containing five drawers. The center has 40 computer terminals, where the workers are reviewing petitions to make sure they're complete and appear valid "on their face," Kennedy said. The first step was to digitally scan all of the petitions, and now GAB workers are giving them the eyeball check. "We have two sets of eyes on every single line of the petition," Kennedy said.

A web camera has allowed the public to view the process. "It's a very dull type of work, but there's a certain camaraderie that's built up among them on this. They've got tremendous leadership from our staff," Kennedy said.

In addition to the GAB's review at the center, a Janesville company has been contracted to find duplicate signatures. That data entry is costing $75,000.