The petition drive to recall Governor Scott Walker reaches the halfway mark on December 15. One month down and one month to go before the deadline to submit 540,208 signatures to trigger a recall election.
Stay tuned as United Wisconsin—the group that is organizing the recall petition drive, makes a big announcement Thursday morning, likely giving the total number of signatures collected so far. We will give you an update as soon as the announcement is out.
The numbers, which both the Democratic Party and United Wisconsin have kept close to the vest, will probably be quite close to the 540,208 mark. In the first 12 days of signature gathering, volunteers had already tallied 300,000 signatures.
But for the last few weeks, there has been no updated tally.
That has left people who want to know how the recall is going scratching their heads.
During an early training session for recall volunteers, United Wisconsin trainer James "Skip" Sonneman told trainees in Madison that United Wisconsin's central office would compile signature data daily, and continuously update the group's website with the information, so volunteers could tell "where are there lots of signatures, and where do we need more."
"Don't leave petitions sitting in a pile somewhere in your house. Turn them in quickly," Sonneman said, suggesting every three days or so to keep the count current.
"I don't think we made a commitment for continual updates on the website, or someone may have misspoken before we had a policy in place," United Wisconsin spokesperson Meagan Mahaffey explained when I asked her about that recently.
But some grassroots activists, including Bryan Bliss, a social media and technology consultant and member of the activist group Wisconsin Wave, have suggested that the Democratic Party and United Wisconsin have been exercising more control of the information than necessary.
The reason for keeping the numbers quiet is not that things are going poorly, Bliss suggests, but that they are going so well.
"They didn't want to tell people, 'We're getting closer and we're almost there,' because they are worried people will slack off," says Bliss, who participates in weekly conference calls with United Wisconsin and other groups involved in the recall.
"I expressed my disagreement with hiding the numbers," he says. "A lot of the grassroots support for recall is from people who are rebelling against the lack of accountability and transparency in the Walker Administration."
"People don't like that," he added. "It's not a grassroots way to do things."
Wisconsin Wave decided to launch its own, separate recall petition drive in the fall to attract volunteers who might object to the "top-down" strategy of United Wisconsin and the Democratic Party.
Originally, the Wisconsin Wave recall petition drive was a kind of insurance against the possibility that United Wisconsin and the Democratic Party would decide not to push ahead and submit their petitions if they thought they might fall short of the target number, Bliss says.
Now that the official recall is going so well, that's not really a concern anymore. Any signatures Wisconsin Wave gathers can be added to the total that United Wisconsin and the grassroots groups it is working with submit to the Government Accountability Board.
"My advice was to talk about 1 million--to say, 'We are 1 million strong,'" says Bliss. "All our internal projections show we are going to land with 1 million signatures by January. There's a lot more support than just barely enough to trigger this."
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Tommy Thompson/Scott Walker Smackdown."
Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter