This is a post by Ronald Kossik
“Put Wisconsin First” are the folks responsible for an online database of Walker recall petition signers, searchable by zip code, by anyone with an Internet connection. This is not merely some guy with a web site; this is part of a collaboration of formidable organizations, capable of marshaling the resources necessary to manually type 800,000 names and addresses from the scanned petition sheets provided by the GAB (assuming they really did type in a total of 800,000 signatures, as claimed).
Substantial amounts of time and money were invested by Walker supporters to try to intimidate recall signers, and to use disinformation to discredit the petition itself.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many right-wing advocacy groups, they are determined to spread lies and confusion, and they aggressively renounce and suppress any facts that expose their deceit. For example, Put Wisconsin First claims that only 800,000 signatures were submitted, an unreasonably low number which is partly explained by their decision to only include signatures that are accompanied by a valid Wisconsin zip code. They also just assume that the name and other information must be legible in order for the signature to be valid.
Put Wisconsin First recently posted a sort-of-friendly message on their Facebook page, explaining what to do if a name is missing from their database:
- Put Wisconsin First New house rule: If someone wants to complain they can’t find their signature please ask them to provide a link to the PDF page, at the GAB web site, and the text of the names and addresses and we will include them in the ZIP CODE search tool.
“That sounds reasonable,” I thought, so I posted this polite and factual comment:
- Ronald Kossik The zip code is not required, so when I was circulating, I often told people to skip it to save time. The signatures are still valid. Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes? If not, that’s a LOT of valid signatures to exclude.
That seemed pretty mild to me, but “Bill”, who seems to be a Put Wisconsin First moderator, starts getting upset:
- Bill Schmalfeldt I think Zip codes are required. Please provide a link to the recall law saying they are not.
- Bill Schmalfeldt Also again, this is a tool to help find petitions. If it doesn’t work for you don’t use it.
- Bill Schmalfeldt If you want to search by something else, make your own tool I guess.
- Bill Schmalfeldt Let me ask, why have it on the face in the area of required fields if it isn’t required?
It’s not my responsibility to educate Bill, but in the interest of fighting misinformation, I pulled up the recall statutes (something Bill should have done before he started spreading his false assumptions), and posted the information that Bill demanded:
- Ronald Kossik
(e) An individual signature on a petition sheet may not be counted if
4. The residency of the signer of the petition sheet cannot be determined by the address given
(g) The burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge.
Posting the facts proving Bill wrong was too much, and so a moderator deleted the state statutes I posted, I guess because they don’t like them, so they’re going to pretend they don’t exist! And they even deleted Bill’s posts, probably because they show that the people running the site don’t know anything about recall law! Now Bill isn’t even pretending to be helpful any longer:
- Bill Schmalfeldt “Is there a way to find signatures without zip codes?” – Yes, go to the GAB web site and start looking. You could ask me, I have a searchable one, as you can see from the comment just above this one.
Even so, I post another polite and factual response:
- Ronald Kossik Bill, Of course you have the right publish any subset of legally submitted signatures that you choose. The point is, if you don’t include signatures because of missing or incorrect zip codes, your database excludes thousands of valid signatures.
That was too factual, too much truth for them to handle! In response, all of my comments were removed, and comments in responding to my comments were removed. (If you look at my last page capture, there are still posts referring to my comments, even though they don’t make much sense by themselves.)
While all this is going on, in another post, Bill uses incorrect information to aggressively berate someone else with concerns about their database:
- Bill Schmalfeldt And another thing, if you think the data is bad, LOOK AT THE PETITIONS! Spelling errors, people don’t know their own zip code, people can’t even spell their own name in some. The fault of bad data isn’t entirely the database, the source is crap. Tell people signing recall petitions to sign legibly, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
In spite of Bill’s hostile response, I posted another polite correction:
- Ronald Kossik Bill, you are wrong; the law does not require an elector to sign or print their name legibly. (Even though you said it in all caps, it doesn’t make it true!) Only a signature is required, and a signature can be ANY MARK, including an “X”. The signature is still valid.
My comment was deleted along with all my other comments, but they left up Bill’s incorrect post to continue to spread bad information to the public! Signatures do NOT have to be legible; that’s a lie, and they know it, but they don’t care.
In response to the polite, factual comments I have quoted above, Put Wisconsin First has removed those comments and blocked me from making additional corrections to their disinformation. The last thing Put Wisconsin First wants is someone posting things like Wisconsin state statutes that explain the truth about the recall process. Put Wisconsin First will continue to spread their lies without tolerating any opportunity for the truth to interfere with the propaganda against the recall.