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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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Congratulations to Marilyn Jo Drake

You may not have heard of Marilyn Jo Drake, yet. Marilyn Jo Drake is the County Auditor for Pottawattamie County, Iowa. In Wisconsin, County Clerk would be the analogous title.

This last Tuesday (June 6, 2006), Marilyn Jo Drake decided an accurate election was more important than a convenient election. Marilyn Jo Drake had computer-generated numbers conveniently available to her. Instead Ms. Drake reported actual vote totals to the public in lieu of these computer-generated numbers which were masquerading as vote totals.

Making this right, but inconvenient decision has cost her much embarrassment, time, and money.

She had to tell candidates and the press near midnight of election night there would be no results that night. Candidates had to go to bed without knowing if they won or lost in the primary. Poor babies.

This meant 22 people had to spend hours hand counting the paper ballots in order to determine the actual vote totals instead of settling for the convenient, but incorrect, machine totals.

This meant vote totals for Pottawatomie County were not available until the end of day Wednesday.

This meant the actual winner of an election will move on instead of the candidate the counting machines had incorrectly (fraudulently?) anointed.

This is an uncomfortable place to be in and Marilyn Jo Drake deserved our support.

On election night the candidate she liked, John Sciortino, was losing to an improbable foe, Oscar Duran. The full details can be found here.

Here is what Marilyn Jo Drake did.

She noticed something weird.

On her own authority she performed an audit of a single, sample precinct to determine if the voting machines were counting correctly. Since the abbsentee ballots are tallied separately, the absentee ballots were effectively a Precinct Zero.

She determined from this audit, the machine counts for Precinct Zero (the absentee ballots) were manifestly incorrect.

She then went public, immediately. That same night she informed the press, candidates, and the Division of Elections, the ES&S equipment (M100's scanners and an M650 scanner) had tainted the administration of the public elections in Pottawatomie County.

She then executed recount of the machine programing for the 41 physical precincts of Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

As a result of the 42 recounts, Marilyn Jo Drake now has vote totals for Pottawatomie County, Iowa instead of convenient, computer-generated numbers masquerading as votes totals for Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

Marilyn Jo Drake is a hero.

She accepted the uncomfortable truth over the pleasant, convenient and plausible lie. Her life would have been so much simpler today had she accepted the lie and stated the election in Pottawattamie County, Iowa was was "problem free". Instead, she chose accuracy over expediency.

I fear Marilyn Jo Drake may find she is one of only a hand full of election officials in the nation willing to choose this difficult option. But, I do know this, it may be a small club (3 so far), but being a member is worth it.