by CNN Wire Staff
Wisconsin released the names of more than 1 million people who signed a recall petition against Gov. Scott Walker, state officials said, despite safety concerns among petition signers.
"In the interest of full transparency, the board has always planned to release copies of recall petitions to anyone who requested them and to post them online," said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel.
"However, we recently heard from a number of people who are concerned about their personal safety if their names and addresses are made public."
The state Government Accountability Board announced its plans Tuesday, citing Wisconsin's Public Records Law and a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the release of referendum petitions in Washington State.
The documents are posted on the board's website as PDFs.
"Weighing all of these concerns and public interests, we have concluded that the balancing test of the Public Records Law favors disclosure of the entire recall petition without redaction of information on a recall petition ..." the board's statement said, noting the public and officeholders have the right to view the petitions.
"Few processes in the electoral system or elsewhere are more public than the signing of recall petitions against state elected officials."
Before the decision, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican like Walker, said the signatures should be made public, stating the importance of transparency in the recall process.
"Our law I think is very clear that the maximum amount of information that is available should be made available," he said. "It's general knowledge that if you do something in public, that's going to be public information."
This would be the first time in Wisconsin's history that a governor has faced recall.
In fact, there have only been two successful gubernatorial recalls in United States history, that of California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and that of North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.