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Elections board warns petition circulators not to disturb voters

Calm and civility prevailed Tuesday morning as a Sheila Harsdorf supporter, Bob Henderson, stood with Colleen Adams, who was gathering signatures to recall Harsdorf. Both were in front of Hudson City Hall. Margaret Ontl photo.

Due to the anticipated presence of recall petition circulators at polling places today, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board offered guidelines for clerks, inspection workers and petition circulators.

The GAB says it's permissible to circulate a petition, unrelated to the current election, at the entrance to a polling place, but canvassers should not circulate petitions within the building and should stand at least 10 ft. from the voters' path of travel.

"The actions of the circulators should not in any way interfere with or distract voters or election officials, interrupt or disturb the election proceedings," say the guidelines.

These are the guidelines.

--It is permissible to circulate a petition within 100 ft. of the entrance to the polling place if it is unrelated to the candidate contests/ referenda on the ballot, subject to any separate rules governing the use of and access to the property.

--Circulators should not solicit signatures from voters in line to vote, but rather wait until voters are leaving the polling place.

--Circulators should not stand in or block the entrance to the building. GAB recommends circulators remain at least 10 ft. from the path of travel.

--The GAB has concluded that petitioning in the immediate voting area or within the building containing the polling place is inherently disruptive. Election officials should order persons petitioning inside the building to leave the building.

--The actions of the circulators should not in any way interfere with or distract voters or election officials, interrupt or disturb the election proceedings.

--Circulators must refrain from "campaign activity" for any contest on the ballot while on public property within 100 feet of the entrance of a polling place. This includes any verbal or written statements on a recall petition referring to a candidate or issue on the ballot.

--If a circulator is causing a disruption of the polling place, the chief inspector should immediately address the situation and ask the circulator to cease disruptive activity. Circulators who do not cease the disruptive activity will be ordered to leave the polling place and remain outside the 100-ft. zone. If the circulator continues to disrupt the polling place, the chief inspector should contact law enforcement to enforce the order.

The rules for signing, circulation petitions

In an earlier announcement, the GAB reminded citizens involved in Wisconsin's unprecedented recall efforts about the rules for signing, circulating and filing recall petitions.

"Recall is a boots-on-the-ground, grassroots process," said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB. "It is not something that can be done online, by e-mail or on Facebook."

Recall petition drives are organized by groups or individuals who have registered with the GAB by filing forms which identify themselves to the public. They are responsible for printing the recall petitions and distributing them to circulators.

At least one person registering a recall committee must live in the official's district, but people who circulate petitions are not required to be residents of the same district or state. Anyone who is a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and not otherwise disqualified from voting, may circulate petitions.

Circulators must personally witness each person sign the petition. They cannot leave petitions unattended on a table or bulletin board. People signing the recall petitions must be qualified electors of the officeholder's district that is subject to the recall effort.

Recall groups have 60 days from the day they register with the G.A.B. to collect the required number of signatures to trigger a recall.

The G.A.B. will only accept signed petitions from registered groups, said Nat Robinson, Elections Division administrator. "People should not send individual petitions to the GAB," said Robinson."If they do, those petitions will not be counted."

For more information about the rules and deadlines for recalls, visit the recall page on the agency's website: