Wednesday, February 08, 2012

How many recall signatures?

I don't know that the 15% invalidation rate reported by the Journal Sentinel is the right one.  I do think that it is very unlikely that recall challengers will invalidate enough signatures to avert a recall. I don't recall talking to many politicos who harbored much doubt that public employee unions could gather enough signatures to force a recall.

The paper's method of selecting petitions, developed in consultation with MULS Visting Prof Charles Franklin, seems reasonable and my understanding is that the margin of error is plus or minus 4.5%  That margin might be larger if the rate of invalid (or unverifiable) signatures is not evenly distributed among circulators - as it might not be if invalidity is substantially impacted by intentional misconduct. If there were a small number of circulators who turned in a disproportionately large number of invalid signatures, that might affect one's confidence in the estimated strike rate. But, again, my understanding is that the more petitions are spread among a large number of circulators, the less likely this is to be a problem since all circulators had a chance of being included in the random sample in proportion to the amount of signatures that they turned in.

In addition, the actual rate of invalidity may differ depending on the method of verification. If, for example, the Verify the Petition people use a more exacting verification process, they might produce a higher rate of invalid signatures.

So I don't think there are a million valid signatures but I am pretty sure that there are more than 540000. There is, nevertheless, value in vetting the petitions. The public has an interest in knowing whether there are really a million signatures and, if some circulators or signatories broke the law, that fact is significant even if the number of signatures exceeds the minimum.


John Foust said...

Careful! We're not supposed to ask questions about the Verify The Recall verification process, but we're supposed to faint when they claim there are great numbers of invalid signatures.

George mitchell said...

Good move by the paper to get expert input on methodology. *

Whether or not there are enough signatures, there should be an assessment by prosecutors as to charging those who committed fraud.

*a step they have failed to take in reporting on educational research.

Tom said...

There's a lot of value in learning how fraught with error a system is where untrained individuals are responsible for ensuring that these legal documents are filled out properly. Likewise how ripe for abuse a system is where the people responsible for being honest are the people most invested in the defeat of the targeted government official.

Both are problems - not just the fraud, but the high error rate. There needs to be a better system for triggering recalls.

Anonymous said...

And from what I've seen, Tom, on the JS reporting system for recall petition checking and other reports: A system reliant on untrained individuals to check petitions, when they don't even check the simple instructions easily accessible online on the petition form, is similarly fraught with perils -- and downright silliness.

The GAB is correct to not waste more of its time -- and my taxpayer monies -- in even giving the time of day to such fools. Really, take a look at the JS online reports for the sorts of things that the anti-recall sorts are claiming. They're ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

"I don't recall talking to many politicos who harbored much doubt that public employee unions could gather enough signatures to force a recall."

Mr. Esenberg's lawyerly bafflegab is exclusively devoted to ignoring Lori Compas, who spearheaded the recall of Scott Fitzgerald, and the thousands of other volunteers who have no connection whatsoever with any public employee unions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Esenberg's lawyerly bafflegab is exclusively devoted to ignoring Lori Compas, who spearheaded the recall of Scott Fitzgerald, and the thousands of other volunteers who have no connection whatsoever with any public employee unions.

LOL, Lori probably isn't the best example of someone with "no connection whatsoever to public employee unions." In case you didn't know, her husband is a professor in the UW system.

So much for no connection.

Jeff Simpson said...

The public has an interest in knowing whether there are really a million signatures and, if some circulators or signatories broke the law, -------

yet the public has no interest in knowing or caring if 6 top aides for the governor spent their days fundraising?

ProgressiveConservative said...

Let's just get this recall over with. Walker should give the order to drop the challenges and help Wisconsin put this behind us. He should get ahead of this thing and look like he's leading a parade.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:52: How uninformed, you are. UW faculty never could belong to unions, the only group in this state prohibited by law from collective bargaining.

They finally won the right little more than a year ago but never got the time to organize before Walker killed collective bargaining rights for all state employees.

So no UW faculty member ever has been able to exercise collective bargaining rights, organize a faculty union, etc.

Now, with actual information rather than what you are told by other uninformed fools, tell us Lori Compas' connection to unions?

John Foust said...

It's about the truthiness - Does it feel true? It doesn't matter if someone is actually in a union. For any given person, you can quickly find a relative who either was in a union, is in a union, or works for the government in some capacity, and therefore they must have a biased opinion about Walker. It's all about the quick dismissal. In this case, the lack of facts about Compas's husband automatically transfers to the other thousands of volunteers. It's like original sin.

Rick Esenberg said...

Of course people who aren't union members volunteered for the recall. The political left is not entirely composed of union members just as the political right is not entirely composed of any one group. But if you don't think that unions were a dominant force in organizing and financing the recall, you're being naive.

Anonymous said...

Of course, Rick. But that's a different point.

The point is that the nameless liar lied in the claim that Compas' spouse is a union member and that all UW faculty are union members.

It would be wise to not again deflect from this point, and from exposure of such lies, as they weaken Walker supporters'/conservatives' arguments and debased the public discussion.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday -

"I don't recall talking to many politicos who harbored much doubt that public employee unions could gather enough signatures to force a recall."

Today -

"The political left is not entirely composed of union members."

Mr. Esenberg may wish to check once more with his politicos to see if they harbored much doubt that enough signatures could be collected without Lori Compas and the thousands of other volunteers who are not affiliated with public employee unions. Then Mr. Esenberg can offer yet a third version of his inconsistent and incoherent Republican Party talking points.

John Foust said...

Zielinski's in the papers saying the Dems "didn't lift a finger" for Compas's recall effort. Every news story - and my personal experience - shows she motivated an army of individuals, and that neither the unions or the Dems were helping her.

Yet Fitz will stand in front of reporters saying "Yeah, the unions were out in full force on this last weekend, there was no doubt about it" without a single shred of proof.

He pushes this delusion for fund-raising purposes.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

-----Walker killed collective bargaining rights

Walker withdrew the much-abused collective bargaining privilege. There, fixed it for ya.

Unknown said...

If I've heard once, I've heard a hundred times that Republican's accepted that the unions could gather enough signatures (and manufacture the number needed to exceed) to force a recall.

Why is this worthy of an argument?

Anonymous said...

According to the MJS most of their invalids were names they couldn't match addresses with. They didn't say what data bases they tried to use to find the addresses. People move every day--particularly young people. How can you possibly find addresses for young folks who are moving constantly. It looks like they vastly overestimated the bad addresses.

Dad29 said...

Why is this worthy of an argument?

Let's set the table with a bit more silverware.

Some of the petitions were sloppily filled-in by the gatherer. Some signers did not carefully fill in their address.

In cases where these are "onesies", no one should really care.

But when a particular gatherer turns in 5, 10, or 50 sheets which are clearly wrong in several respects (including clearly incredible signatories)--THAT gatherer should be dragged over the coals.

It's one thing to make a friggin' clerical error. It's another thing entirely to abuse the process, which is called "criminal fraud."

John Foust said...

Bring on the silverware, Dad29. Which page numbers? Which lines do you question, and why?

Unknown said...

========Bring on the silverware, Dad29. Which page numbers? Which lines do you question, and why?======

Sources close to the Senator Wanggaard Campaign are stating that 130 high school students have signed the recall petitions calling for a recall election. There are 80 confirmed signatures of students who are not old enough to vote. They were verifying additional signatures for eligibility. The group states that they are filing an addendum to the challenge for the recall signatures.

It is not confirmed if these students also signed other recall papers for the Governor. More on this story as it develops.

RACINE - An investigation Thursday night into recall petition fraud after a man's name is found four times on a petition against a state senator.

TODAY'S TMJ4 talked to three people Thursday -- who say their names were forged on petitions to recall Van Wanggaard, including a woman who wonders if her son forged her name.

=====now for desert!!!!

John Foust said...

Good start, Unknown, but you're a bit behind in the game. The incumbents have already put forward their challenges, and even the recaller rebuttals have been submitted.

Again, like Dad29, I'm asking for pages and line numbers. That's what matters when the rubber hits the road at the GAB, between recaller and incumbent.

Where's your outrage for the thousands of ridiculous challenges put forward by Fitz's campaign, for example, like claiming Tim Suckow is "Tim Sucker"? Suppositions without evidence. Super-sloppy transcription. All from the guy who trumpeted fraud even before he'd seen the petitions.

Levinson's rebuttals at the recall web site are hilarious. He even had to remind everyone about the definition of "day" and "night", as Fitz seemed to have confusions about that.

Anonymous said...

Professor, while there may be some anony's here who may at times demonstrate their "psychic need to flame you out", there are other anony's who are respectful and cogent in their rebuttals to your positions. So while I understand it is your blog and you have every right to close comments, I think that decision can only harm your overall position.

In any event, when you state that "if one party sweeps the election, the legislature is pretty much going to be able to draw the map it wants", yes, that is true; however, it does not mean that the drawing is CONSTITUTIONAL. Why do you think federal courts generally have to be involved in this process?
BOTH sides try to get the upper hand.

So your point that "challenges to maps as a partisan gerrymander are, under a proper reading of the law, practically impossible" actually flies in the face of reality.

Moreover, when you claim that "the maps were shared with Scott Jensen before they were made public is not interesting", you are deflecting from a disturbing trend. I am sure that if the tables were reversed and (D)'s showed the configurations to a
former politician with a sullied reputation, there would be massive outrage by conservatives. The point that this conduct may happen all the time does NOT make it right. Moreover, the (R)'s contention that they did not have to show the maps to anyone, including the public, because it would violate attorney-client privilege now becomes moot since they did provide this "confidential information" to an outside source. The (R)'s cannot have their cake and eat it too. That is, they cannot claim that the general public has no right to see the maps based on their argument--and contest it in court, no less--then do an about face and provide it to essentially a public figure. It would appear to me that the GOP is being hypocritical and unethical. Perhaps the (D)'s would engage in similar mischief if they were in charge, but that would NOT make it RIGHT.

So, it DOES matter and it IS interesting contrary to your claim.

I hope you do reconsider opening up the comments section because there are intelligent anony's out there. Just because we choose this tag does not mean our positions should be discounted.