Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I just had to touch that rock

I have been going round with the legal council for the State Elections Board. He wants clarification on the nature of my March 9, 2005 complaint. My main complaint is less with the corrupt/incompetent poll inspectors failing to do local board canvasses which conform to State statutes in 7.51. My complaint is more that the SEB has been so focused on chapter 11 issues (campaign finance) that the Board has neglected chapter 7 issues (election administration).

So I wanted to bolster my case that these 7.51 canvassing issues are widespread. I called the City of West Allis because it is a large city (#11 in the state) which is near me. I made a request to see the usual paperwork (Inspectors' report, poll list signature page, and the machine tape report of ballots cast).

In the course of setting the appointment, I was asked what was I looking for. I said I was checking to see if there were any polling places with more ballots than electors voting. The clerk said: "oh yeah, things like that happen with a big election." I then mentioned that ballot box stuffing is illegal and there is a remedy in the statutes for removing the extra ballots. The converstation was:

Clerk: "How would you know which ballots to remove?"
Me: "First, all ballots without an inspector initial are removed. If that is not enought then by random draw."
Clerk: "I did not know that. Are you sure?"

After the call and after I brought my blood pressure back under control, I am left with 3 thoughts:
1) The Board has been remiss in its duty to see to the adminstration of chapter 7 of the state statute. This clerk has been there 10+ years.
2) West Allis has stuffed ballot boxes.
3) The top 10 or 15 cities in Wisconsin need to be checked for this.

After Milwaukee the next 9 largest municipalities by population in Wisconsin are the cities of Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine, Appleton, Waukesha, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, and Janesville.


Anonymous steveegg said...

That's what happens with a kleptocracy of, by and for the politicians.

Thu Apr 28, 07:27:00 AM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

I spoke with George Dunst, Legal Counsel for the State Election Board, about clarifying my March 9, 2005 complaint. The conversation was productive. But, a startling statement from Mr. Dunst was that I would have to believe in a wide conspiracy to believe that the majority of local canvasses of 1500 wards (top 10 cities) are defective.

I pointed out that in a QA setting of an organization, any time you have processes but no mechanism to monitor compliance, compliance is wildly uneven. More so if compliance is extra work or there is incentive or self-interest to not comply.

I have volunteered to do the compliance survey for the last 3 general elections for each of the top 25 municipalities if the board will get me the 13,224 documents.

We will see if this offer is accepted.

Thu Apr 28, 11:44:00 AM CDT  
Anonymous steveegg said...

I'll take 3-2 that your offer is rejected, with a following 5-2 that more than 2/3rds of the data is defective.

Thu Apr 28, 03:33:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

On the defective data, I agree. This situation is an uncotrolled quality control process. There are QC processes defined but no monitoring to see if the process are being followed.

The predictable result will be wildly varying compliance; from no compliance to near perfect. Given the additional self-interests, this particular instance is likely to skew to non-compliance.

The question of rejection is more intriguing. Rejected by whom? Currently, I am talking with the SEB staff. But if the staff rejects the proposal, I am prepared to write a detailed proposal and mail the proposal directly to all 9 Board members.

The board consists of 4 Dems, 4 Repubs, and 1 Lib. This is an interesting dynamic when the proposal is merely to survey 7.51 compliance in 25 municipalities, most of the labor is donated and the next election is not scheduled until September of 2006.

I chose 25 because 30.5% of the reporting wards are in those 25 municipalities. It seemed a good compromise between coverage of wards and the number of records officers involved (25 Muni and 18 county).

Fri Apr 29, 09:24:00 AM CDT  

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