Here is why opponents of the Walker recall might be reasonably concerned about the interaction of 1) the GAB's statement that it is not only "not illegal" to sign more than one recall petition but that voters should do it if they fear a petition might not be turned in, 2) the left's hyping of a so far undetected plot to circulate and destroy false recall petitions and 3) the decision of at least some recall organizers to tell people that they may - and arguably encourage them to - sign more than one petition.
Everyone agrees that the administrative burdens presented by a gubernatorial recall are unprecedented. Determining the validity of over 500,000 signatures and ensuring that there are no duplicates is so difficult that the GAB has pretty much thrown in the towel. Aside from a cursory review for obvious inefficiencies, it intends to presume the validity of the signatures. This, it says, reflects an expectation that those who submit the signatures won't turn in duplicates or invalid signatures and the belief that recall opponents will be able to ferret out anything untoward.
That's how it usually works but there are a few problems here. First, the volume that makes it difficult for the GAB to vet over a half million signatures also applies to the ability of recall opponents to do so. Second, it is, I think, somewhat unusual for recall organizers to explicitly tell (some would say encourage) people to sign petitions more than once. This makes it likely that duplicates could be a problem.
This is so even if it is legal to sign a petition more than once. Contrary to some media reports and blogger claims, state law does not expressly permit this, it simply does not expressly prohibit it. I suppose that one might argue that signing a petition more than once is fraud in connection with a recall petition. Personally, I would not wish to see people prosecuted for that because I believe that criminal statutes ought to be construed narrowly and fraud is, moreover, a matter of intent. But the matter may not be as clear as GAB says.
A closer question might be presented with respect to recall organizers who submit petitions knowing, or with no regard for, whether they contain duplicates. State law is quite clear on the number of individual voters who must sign recall petitions. Arguably, submission of petitions constitutes a representation that the requisite number has been obtained. But if one tells people that they may sign more than once and then does nothing to eliminate duplicates (particularly knowing that the GAB won't do so), has one made a false statement with respect to a recall petition? What if the actual number of individual electors signing is less than the requisite amount?
Again, I don't think that prosecuting people who have not knowingly submitted duplicates in an effort to create a false impression that the requisite number of signatures is a good idea, but we are dealing with a confluence of factors that potentially affects the integrity of the process.
Recall proponents, as near as I can tell, defend their behavior because a couple of guys on Facebook (who could have been anybody or nobody) said they were going to collect recall petitions and destroy them. The GAB, while acknowledging that it had no evidence that anyone was really planning to do this, issued a much publicized warning against recall fraud that appears to have been used by some as a justification to tell folks that they may -and perhaps should - sign early and often.
Some lefty bloggers are using three incidents in which they claim someone "destroyed a petition" but none of these instances involved the circulation of false petitions. To the contrary, they involved two individuals who grabbed a petition from actual recall organizers and either ripped them up and one who seems to have either tore or poked a hole in the page. This type of thing is alleged to have happened before (including by Democrats) but would not seem to constitute an existential threat to the recall effort that would justify deliberately seeking - or providing - multiple signatures.
At this point, it would seem that duplicate signatures are a far more serious problem than destroyed signatures. It is, of course, possible that there are "false flag" circulators. Just as I am unwilling to assume that "no one" would engage in fraud when it comes to voter registration and voting, I am not going to assume it away here. Whether that justifies what some might reasonably see as the encouragement of multiple signatures is another matter.
Will this turn into a significant problem? It is quite possible that recall opponents will be able to vet the submitted signatures for duplicates. Perhaps the number of signatures will be sufficiently in excess of the required amount to make duplicates immaterial. Nevertheless, there is something that is unseemly about telling people they may sign more than once when neither the organizers or the reviewing government agency intend to do anything to eliminate duplicates.
If the recall was going the other way, i.e, if the Republicans were attempting to recall a Democratic governor, can anyone doubt that folks on the left would have the same concerns?