UPDATE: GAB will use computer software to verify signatures - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: GAB will use computer software to verify recall signatures


Under a judge's order to identify and throw out duplicate signatures and bogus names on recall petitions, the Government Accountability Board is turning to new technology.

They're hoping a computer software program will do a lot of the work for them.

They say its needed, because counting and verifying petition signatures to recall the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and four Republican state senators figures to be a huge job.

"We are expecting approximately 1.5 million signatures, covering about 300,000 pages," said GAB Elections Division Administrator Nat Robinson.

Robinson and Executive Director Kevin Kennedy announced the plan to the board Thursday morning.

"We had looked at what it would take to enter all that information into a database and it was just an incredible amount," said Kennedy.

So, the GAB is turning to OCR.

That stands for Optical Character Recognition.

"That can electronically read data on petitions and then compare the names on those petitions and determine whether a petition contains duplicate signatures or duplicate names," said Robinson.

OCR will also create a database of those names that will be re-checked by human beings.

The process will start when the petitions are delivered to the GAB next Tuesday.

The petitions will not be counted and verified at the GAB's offices on East Washington Ave. however, because its simply not big enough or secure enough.

Instead, the GAB has set up an off-site location that is gated and fenced with razor wire.

It is also equipped with a 24 hour camera system.

"The space is being prepared, equipment is being moved in and all items are being set up in order to accommodate the staff for the review process," said Robinson.

"It will not be a secret location, but at this point, we're not sharing the location," said Kennedy.  "You'll certainly know where it is, after Tuesday.  But, it is a state owned building in Madison."

Add about 50 temporary employees to handle the rest of the work and it leaves the GAB going back to the legislature's Joint Finance Committee for more money.

"We've made sure that the legislature doesn't have any surprises when it comes to the costs that we're incurring," said Kennedy.

The GAB estimates the software and the new secured location will add about $350,000 in new costs.

They have yet to determine how much all those extra employees will cost or how long the petition review process will take.

But, Kennedy said it will be much longer than 60 days.


MADISON (WKOW) -- In an effort to meet new requirements imposed by Waukesha County Judge Mac Davis last week, the Government Accountability Board will use optical character recognition software to catch duplicate signatures.

The OCR technology will scan petitions and put the names into a computer database where they can be verified by state workers.

The use of OCR is in direct response to Judge Davis' ruling, which requires the GAB to do its best to find and remove and duplicate signatures and bogus names.

The GAB is testing the software now so it is up and running by next Tuesday.

That's when petitions will be turned in to recall Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators.

GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy expects a total of roughly 1.5 million signatures will be turned in for the six recalls.

Kennedy also said the GAB is setting up an off-site location in another state building for the petition review process, simply because there isn't enough room at the board's East Washington Avenue location.

Kennedy said he won't reveal the off-site location until next Tuesday, but said it is in Madison and has a fence with razor wire, as well as a 24 hour security system with cameras.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann was at today's GAB meeting and will have a live report on 27 News at 6.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The review of signatures submitted seeking a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker will take longer than originally planned.

The Government Accountability Board originally thought it would take 60 days, but Thursday said it's unclear how long it will take.

GAB director Kevin Kennedy says more time is needed in order to do a more extensive review of the signatures to look for duplicates and obvious fakes as ordered by a judge last week.

The GAB plans to proceed with the review next week even if the state decides to seek an appeal. Petition circulators have also sought a stay in the judge's order.

Recall petitions are due Tuesday, January 17.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann was at Thursday's hearing and will have reaction tonight on 27 News at 6.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The state elections board is meeting Thursday morning to discuss plans for the recall Walker procedure.

The Government Accountability Board plans to discuss how it will proceed after a court order is requiring that its analysis of the signatures be more detailed than originally planned.

The GAB plans to ask a judge for 60 days to review the petitions seeking a recall of Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Current law only gives 31 days for the review, but the board may need to take even longer.

In light of last week's court ruling in favor of Walker and the state Republican Party, the GAB says it will take longer to take duplicate and fictitious names signatures off recall petitions.

The GAB plans to discuss its options at a meeting starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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