MILWAUKEE -- A website was launched that allows users to search for specific names on Wisconsin recall petitions. The website went online Wednesday night (March 7th) and the group "Verify the Recall" says it is logging 10,000 users at any given time. Some say the ability to search these recall petitions is good news, while others disagree.
"Verify the Recall" says 14,000 volunteers have worked for weeks to produce a website that allows anyone to search recall petitions by name. "Verify the Recall" says 50,000 people searched the database in the first 20 minutes it was available Wednesday evening - so many people, that the search takes quite awhile!
"Since (Wednesday night), two servers have been running at capacity the whole time. We expected some delays - five seconds or so, when people would do their searches, simply because it was popular, and the delays are running up in the 20 second range when people can get on. Our IT people tell us we're running many thousands of people online searching at any given moment," Larry Gamble with "Verify the Recall" said.
Gamble says some are contacting the group with mistakes they've discovered. That information, Gamble says, will be passed on to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. "We were notified someone signed in Milton using Milton High School as their address, so that's not a valid entry," Gamble said.
Others say having a searchable database is bad news and could be turning the petitions into a "tool for mischief." The Democratic Party of Wisconsin says: "The groups that intend this have a history of intimidation and suppression. I don't know how it makes Wisconsin government more transparent or helps Wisconsin."
The Government Accountability Board has already announced third-party groups such as "Verify the Recall" don't have any official standing in the recall process. However, "Verify the Recall" says they believe officials will look at what they have to offer.
The GAB says they are interested not in specific challenges to names, but in any evidence of petition fraud of ways the collection process could be improved.