The finish line is in sight to collect signatures for the statewide effort to .
But anyone who wants to know just how many signatures have been gathered is going to have to wait until Jan. 17, when all recall petitions will be submitted to the state Government Accountability Board for verification.
That's because the state Democratic Party said today it was not going to provide anymore updates on how close organizers are to gathering the 540,280 signatures needed to force a recall election or hitting organizer's internal goal of collecting 720,000 signatures.
Organizers say the main reason they're staying mum is because they believe whatever numbers they report will be used by Walker supporters to portray the recall effort "as some kind of failure."
The decision not to provide any more updates until Jan. 17 is a stark contrast to what the Democratic Party and the group United Wisconsin had been doing up until now.
For example, on Dec. 15, the state Democratic Party Chairman Michael Tate held a press conference to announce that .
And in November, the groups announced that .
But Democrats made it clear Wednesday that no more updates were coming until Jan. 17
"Anyone who sees numbers before that date can rest assured that they are not viewing accurate numbers," the party said in a statement. "Various blogs and other outlets have, in the course of their reporting, received erroneous information that they believe has been leaked to them.
"Mostly, this is part of an earnest desire to report on an historic moment. But there also is extant games-playing by Scott Walker defenders who are seeking to manage expectations to their favor," the statement said. "After previously downplaying the possibility for recall elections being triggered, they are now trying to spin any number turned in by the recall coalition as some kind of failure."
But Ben Sparks, the communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said the GOP has said nothing about the number of signatures collected.
"The Democrats alleging that Republicans are playing partisan games is a joke in and of itself," Sparks told Patch Wednesday. "This recall attempt of Governor Walker is nothing more than an expensive partisan game that they're forcing on Wisconsin families...That's an extremely serious game that the Democrats are playing with Wisconsin taxpayers."
The announcement comes just days after a United Wisconsin recall county coordinator in Rhinelander told the Northwoods River News that more than 600,000 signatures had been gathered statewide. That number has since beeen posted on Facebook and Twitter numerous times.
"Another phenomenon are well-meaning volunteers who are leaking raw numbers of signatures versus the actual number of signatures that will be submitted after vetting," the Democrats said. "That latter total is under lock-and-key, and will not be released beyond a secure group of data workers until the last hour. The success of our efforts hinge in part on the security and integrity measures we have employed."
The party also set a timetable for when signatures will be collected and presented to the state:
- Tuesday, Jan. 10: Deadline for mailing petitions to P.O. Box 2569, Madison, WI 53701.
- Friday, Jan. 13: The final day to drop off petitions at local recalls offices. Most offices will close after this date.
- Saturday, Jan. 14, through noon, Monday, Jan. 16: Signature collectors can drop off petitions in person at the recall Madison field office, 6602 Normandy Lane, Madison, WI 53719.