Is it too much to ask a citizen to legibly fill out his name and address? A glimpse of the petitions submitted to recall Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, suggests that it might be.
However, the poor penmanship and geographic ignorance that seems to afflict many in the 13th Senate District is not quite as surprising as the sloppiness and apparent ineptitude that define the Fitzgerald campaign's petition challenges.
A diligent reader contacted us after checking some of the addresses that the Fitzgerald campaign is alleging are either nonexistent or illegible. The campaign's challenges are posted on the Government Accountability Board's website. The conclusion the reader drew was that it was the Fitzgerald campaign, not the signatories, messing up addresses.
Specifically, the campaign is asking that a number of signatures be struck because postcards sent to those addresses were returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable. However, checking the addresses on the postcards against those on the petitions shows that the Fitzgerald campaign, either purposefully or accidently, misaddressed numerous postcards, making it likely they would be returned.
The very first challenged address (pg. 8) reveals two glaring mistakes made by the campaign. The postcard it sent out was addressed to "Arnold Sodill" of W857 Eipong Terrace, Beaver Dam Wisconsin. In fact, the actual petition was signed by "Arnold Wodill" of W8571 Lake George Terrace in Beaver Dam.
Similarly, the second postcard was addressed to "W10722 MLK Dr., Beaver Dam, Wisconsin." There is no such address, claims the Fitzgerald campaign. They are right; the address actually listed on the petition is "W10722 Mikard Rd., Beaver Dam, Wisconsin." That address does exist.
The fourth postcard is addressed to "116 River Circle," whereas the real address was "116 Ridge Circle."
How the Fitzgerald campaign derived the fictional address, "102380 Aghugo Ln.," from signer Frederick Stange is downright bizarre, given that Stange listed the same address as the person on the line below him, Mary Stange, who lives at 102380 Co. Hwy. W.
Perhaps most comically, the campaign challenged the veracity of a signature it determined was submitted by a man named "Timothy Sucker."
"[It] appears to be a fictiousness name, as no evidence of this individual's existence could be produced, and the slang connotations associated with his last name."
The actual petition shows the man's name is Timothy Suckow and he is a resident of Watertown.
Neither the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate nor the Fitzgerald campaign have responded to numerous messages.
This story was updated Feb. 14 and Feb. 15.
Correction: I mistakenly reported that two of the Fitzgerald campaign postcards did not include a municipality or zip code. In fact, the municipality was not visible on some of the postcards because it was covered by the post office's "undeliverable" label. Nevertheless, all of the postcards cited in this article included other errors, such as misspelled names or addresses.