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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Addresses should be removed from petitions

 

It's been six years since your husband threatened to kill you after you reported your shattered jaw. You've been looking over your shoulder the entire time. Does he know you moved in with your cousin? Does he know your sister watches the kids? Does he know you have a teaching job in Eau Claire? In November, you signed a petition to recall Scott Walker after his collective bargaining bill slashed your benefits from that teaching job. The connection, you ask? That signature could lead your ex-husband directly to your doorstep.

The Government Accountability Board posted over one million recall signatures to their web site last Tuesday and each petitioner's address is listed directly next to their signature. Meaning your ex-husband could simply log on to their web site, scroll down the list, find your name and would know right where to find you.

Despite cries from advocacy groups that it would endanger domestic violence victims, the GAB ruled to include the addresses since "the signing of a recall petition is a public process." Although The Daily Cardinal acknowledges that petitions are public documents, we do not think people's privacy, and in some cases safety, should be compromised for the sake of transparency.

The government protects domestic abuse victim's identities when voting by classifying them as a "confidential voter." These same protections should apply to the signing of recall petitions. If you are a victim of domestic assault, you should be able to demonstrate your right to sign a public petition without fearing for your safety.

And this isn't just in the interest of domestic abuse victims, it is also a matter of personal privacy. Petitioners provided their address so that the GAB can verify their signatures and that is the only thing they should be used for. In such a heated political climate, recall supporters shouldn't be made easy targets by putting their address at any crazy's fingertips. If people want to look at the signatures to make sure Mickey Mouse doesn't make an appearance, that's fine. But, there is no reason the public needs access to home or email addresses.

Although the deed has already been done, The Daily Cardinal asks the GAB to redact the home and email addresses on the petitions listed on their website. The government is here to protect the rights and well-being of its citizens. The last thing they should be doing is making it easier for perpetrators to find their victims. Do you also think the GAB is out of line in publishing people's addresses? Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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