January 13, 2012

Kevin Kennedy, Director & General Counsel

Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

212 East Washington Avenue, Third Floor

Madison, WI 53707-7984

Via facsimile to (608) 267-0500

Dear Attorney Kennedy,

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin defends the civil liberties of all Wisconsin residents in a non-partisan manner.   We believe that a meaningful franchise requires both a high degree of integrity and transparency in the electoral process and freedom from government or private intimidation or retaliation for participating in the electoral process. 

I understand from media reports that the Government Accountability Board has decided to create a database of the information from the petitions asking for the recall of Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch.   Under Wisconsin’s public records law the GAB is required to balance competing public interests when determining whether or not to release a copy or part of a document (including computer files).   If the recall petition database is considered to be a public record, we assume that you will appropriately balance the competing public interests of electoral integrity and transparency and political speech and association.

At present the ACLU of Wisconsin urges the GAB to mask or otherwise redact from the database personally identifiable information when the signer is an elector who is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking and has exercised her option to be listed confidentially.  You should be able to match the current confidential list of such electors with the new database.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you intend to protect this vulnerable group of voters.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Ahmuty

Executive Director