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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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Public Comments to the California Top to Bottom Review

Dear Madam Secretary Bowen:

I thank you for this opportunity to make a public comment on the results of the top to bottom review. My name is John Washburn. I am a resident of Germantown, Wisconsin. I have worked as a software tester and in the field of quality assurance since 1994. I currently am certified by the American Society for Quality as a CSQE; certified software quality engineer. It is a certification I have held continuously and proudly since 1998. I have read the documents[1] found on the website of the California Secretary of State and would like to submit the following comments.

I read with fascination the various attack scenarios. Many are elegant applications to voting systems of well understood attack vectors used against other computerized systems. The results are important, disturbing, and must be addressed. But, as disturbing and import as these technical findings are, I do not believe they are the most disturbing information uncovered by the top to bottom review. The most disturbing findings are:

1.    The revelation that the systems are inaccessible and, in some cases, present an active obstacle to voting accessibility.

2.    The revelation that vendor representations may be fraudulent.

3.    The continuing evidence the NASED/ITA model for certification has failed and is not worth the paper it is written on.

4.    The continuing evidence that voting systems are defect-dense.

The Systems are not Accessible

The Accessibility Review[2] by Noel Runyan and Jim Tobias is thorough, detailed, and precise in its findings. None of the three systems reviewed meets the minimum accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) or the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines[3] (2005 VVSG). Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems compared to precinct based optical scanning are more expensive to purchase, more expensive to test, more expensive to maintain and, by all indications, are more insecure. The justification for why American elections must endure the addition insecurity and expense of DRE systems has been that DRE systems allow disabled voters and voters in language minorities the opportunity to vote privately and independently. This accessibility review refutes this justification in exceptional detail. For the first time, someone has enumerated all of the accessibility requirements of the both HAVA and the 2005 VVSG and objectively tested for conformance. Moreover, under some conditions the DRE system is an active impediment to voting.

If the person is voting in a language other than English and which uses a non-Roman alphabet such has Chinese, the DRE screen does not render characters at all. Even if the translation were well done, it is worthless if the translated text cannot be rendered for display. This is an active impediment to voting by voters in these language minorities, an impediment they would not encounter with a paper ballot which has no trouble displaying non-Roman characters.

If the person has normal vision, normal hearing, and normal upper body strength and dexterity, but is confined to a wheel chair, the DRE system is inaccessible because the forward approach is blocked by the narrow legs of the stand, hard to reach because of the height, and subject to parallax errors. For this class of voters, the DRE either prevents voting or make voting uncomfortably arduous because of the need for a side approach. Since Wisconsin has paper ballots which are tallied by optical scanner or are hand counted, voters who are wheel chair bound can be accommodated with a clip board or a suitably low table. If the polling location has only DRE equipment though, then the DRE equipment introduces a barrier to voting which did not exist before.

Representations of the Systems May be Fraudulent

The Red Team Report for Sequoia[4] by Vigna, Kemmerer, et. al. includes several comments where the properties of the Sequoia Voting System were misrepresented to the security testing team by Sequoia. Section 4.4 and 4.8 are two such examples. Section 4.4 of the security assessment report states:

There is no way to determine which version of the firmware is running on an Edge device. The Sequoia documentation states that the firmware is stored in ROM and that checksum-based mechanisms are used to determine if the firmware has been modified maliciously. However, in reality there is no secure, hardware based mechanism to ensure that no corrupted firmware gets loaded and executed. In addition, the Edge firmware is stored on a flash memory card and can be easily overwritten. Hardware support for trusted software execution and the use of non-writable memory would protect the Edge device from a large range of attacks from both insiders and outsiders.

Section 4.8 of the security assessment reads:

In the documentation ([10], p. 3-1), it is stated that: "WinEDS currently does NOT utilize code outside of MS SQL Server and no connections or permissions are required on the server (besides SQL Client.) The lack of server access by individual users provides the application with a secure client-server environment. The election data stored on the server can only be modified by authorized users only through the application."

Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, it is possible to connect to the database and completely compromise the MS SQL server host without using the WinEDS application. This is achieved by exploiting two security problems. First of all, the WinEDS access control procedures can be bypassed. Second, the MS SQL server delivered with the Sequoia system enables users to execute arbitrary commands.

The emphasis of the quoted sections above is mine and highlights the diplomatic language of the assessment team. The representations of section 4.8 were made by Sequoia to the Wisconsin State Elections Board during the May 16, 2007 of the Elections board. This indicates the misrepresentation by Sequoia Voting Systems on the security of WinEDS is consistent.

Another consistent misrepresentation is that the firmware of the system is in read-only memory (ROM). Instead the security team found the firmware is stored on EEPROM/Flash memory. Flash memory is the same type of memory used in a portable flash drive or an iPOD. Read-only memory is just that; read-only. Once created the contents cannot be re-written, but can only be read. While flash memory retains its contents when the power is off (non-volatile), it can be re-written (mutable). Read-only memory is both non-volatile and immutable. Flash memory is easily changed and therefore highly insecure.

Both of these representations (ROM based firmware and secured SQL architecture) are false. Since, I am not an attorney, I cannot judge whether such false representations constituted fraud. But, the misrepresentations are fundamental and hard to classify as anything other than an effort to deceive.

The NASED/ITA Testing Model has Failed

The security reports as a whole present more evidence that the NASED/ITA framework for testing and certification has been an utter failure. This is a significant problem which impacts the whole country. The NASED/ITA model was used to as the basis for the certification of EVERY voting system currently in use in the United States. With the exception of lever machines in New York, only equipment qualified by the NASED/ITA process was used in the most recent Federal election held on November 7, 2006. That this testing and certification model is ineffective and flawed is a concern for the State of California and every other state where NASED certification is a requirement to state certification

The NASED/ITA testing framework failed to find any of the findings of these three reports during repeated rounds of testing conducted over the course of several years. The results of these three reports from the Top-To-Bottom Review on the other hand were all uncovered in less than one month of examination. Each finding in the security reports is evidence of the failure of the NASED/ITA process. For illustration I will focus on only two of the findings from the Sequoia security assessment. The NASED/ITA testing and certification system failed to find:

·       There is no way to determine which version of the firmware is running on an Edge device. Section 4.4 of the Sequoia Security Assessment Report.

·       The Edge firmware was discovered to include a shell-like scripting language interpreter. Section 4.5 of the Sequoia Security Assessment Report.

The inability to identify the system under test is a violation of Section 8.6.d, Volume I, Section 8.7.1, Volume I, and Appendix B.3 Volume II of the 2002 VVSG.

Section 8.6.d Volume I states:

The vendor shall establish such procedures and related conventions, providing a complete description of those used to:

a.     Perform a first release of the system to an ITA;

b.     Perform a subsequent maintenance or upgrade release of the system, or a particular components, to an ITA;

c.     Perform the initial delivery and installation of the system to a customer, including confirmation that the installed version of the system matches exactly the qualified system version; and

d.    Perform a subsequent maintenance or upgrade release of the system, or a particular component, to a customer, including confirmation that the installed version of the system matches exactly the qualified system version.

Section 8.7.1 Volume I states:

Physical Configuration Audit

The PCA is conducted by the ITA to compare the voting system components submitted for qualification to the vendor’s technical documentation. For the PCA, a vendor shall provide:

  1. Identification of all items that are to be a part of the software release;

Section B.3 Volume II (System Identification) states:

System Identification

This section gives information about the tested software and supporting hardware, including:

a. System name and major subsystems (or equivalent);

b. System Version;

c. Test Support Hardware; and

d. Specific documentation provided in the vendor's TDP used to support testing.

Since, "There is no way to determine which version of the firmware is running on an Edge device", it is not possible to meet any of these three requirements of the 2002 VVSG. How was this failure to conform missed by the vendor funded test labs during repeated rounds of testing? Paul Craft, Steven V. Freeman, and Britt Williams of the technical subcommittee of the NASED Voting Systems Board reviewed every report generated by the vendor funded ITA labs. How is it that they failed to notice that the labs were not testing for conformance to the system identification requirements? One possibility is that these three granted a waiver to Sequoia Voting Systems on the matter of conformance to standard. Such waivers to conformance are permitted by Appendix B.5 Volume II of both the 2002 and 2005 VVSG. The relevant paragraph of Appendix B.5 of the 2002 VVSG reads:

Of note, any uncorrected deficiency that does not involve the loss or corruption of voting data shall not necessarily be cause for rejection. Deficiencies of this type may include failure to fully achieve the levels of performance specified in Volume I, Sections 3 and 4 of the Standards, or failure to fully implement formal programs for qualify[sic] assurance and configuration management described in Volume I, Sections 7 and 8. The nature of the deficiency is described in detail sufficient to support the recommendation either to accept or to reject the system, and the recommendation is based on consideration of the probable effect the deficiency will have on safe and efficient system operation during all phases of election use.

As the security assessment report states, interpreters are prohibited by the 2002 VVSG. Again, how is that the vendor funded ITA labs failed to notice the presence of a prohibited interpreter during any of several rounds of testing? The problem for California on this matter is more acute. In December of 2005 it became public knowledge that the voting systems from Diebold Election Systems Inc. used prohibited interpreters and interpreted code. In response, Bruce McDannold, Interim Director of the Office of Voting System Technology Assessment, specifically asked Paul Craft and Steven V. Freeman if there were any other voting systems used in California which also had interpreters and interpreted code. In this email exchange[5], Mr. McDannold states that some think the State of California is "picking on" Diebold over the interpreted code issue. At the time Mr. Craft and Mr. Freeman stated no other voting system used in California used interpreters or interpreted code. It is ironic that the security assessment team has vindicated Diebold Election Systems. There were two voting systems in California using interpreters, but only Diebold was singled out for investigation.

Paul Craft and Steven V. Freeman are 2 of the 3 people on the technical subcommittee of the NASED Voting Systems Board. How is it they were unaware of the interpreter found in the Edge voting systems from Sequoia? Mr. Craft and Mr. Freeman were hired because of their connection with the NASED process and their expert knowledge of voting systems. The State of California specifically and directly asked both Mr. Craft and Mr. Freeman about interpreters in California Voting Systems. They stated Diebold was unique. Mr. Craft and Mr. Freeman failed the State of California when they provided this incorrect answer. One may ask what other work product from Mr. Craft and Mr. Freeman may also defective.

The Systems are Defect-Dense

Over the years, every time a vendor-independent team investigates a voting machine the team finds new, significant, and possibly election-altering defects. An incomplete list of these past studies is:

·         The 2003 John Hopkins report,

·         The 2003 RABA report from Maryland,

·         The 2003 Compuware report from Ohio,

·         The 2004 follow ups reports by Compuware to the initial 2003 Ohio report,

·         The 2005 examinations by Hugh Thompson in Leon County,

·         The 2005 examinations of Hari Hursti in Leon County, Florida,

·         The 2006 examinations by Hari Hursti in Emery County, Utah,

·         The 2006 Princeton report on the TSx,

·         The 2007 report from the University of Connecticut on the AccuVote OS, and

·         The 2007 report from the University of Connecticut on the AccuVote TSx.

California’s three new security assessments again find new and significant defects which are distinct from those found in prior reports. In my expert opinion this indicates that the software in these systems is defect-dense. A defect-dense system has a high number of defects per thousand lines of code. Defect-dense systems are marked by the same properties as exhibited by voting systems:

1.    Different testers find different defects. In defect-sparse systems, different testers tend to find the same defects over and over. This is because there are so few defects to find that effective testing by different groups repeatedly finds the few defects present.

2.    The defects found are generally severe. This is because severe defects are usually found before minor defects. Major defects are easier to detect because the behavior is manifestly incorrect and major defects tend to hide or obscure the presence of more minor defects.

Consider a line of automobiles from the fictional manufacturer Washburn Motors. What if every time a mechanic or engineer not hired by Washburn Motors examines one of my cars, they find a new, serious problem? One mechanic finds the engines stalls at 60 miles per hour. A second discovers the axles tend to break. A third notices the brakes fail intermittently in warm weather. A fourth discovers the odometer sometimes loses 18,000 miles. Would you by a car from Washburn Motors? Most would not. This is because even though they do not use the term defect-dense, most people instinctively recognize the symptoms and would avoid buying a lemon from Washburn Motors.

Voting systems currently exhibit the same behavior as the fictional cars from Washburn Motors. Every time someone not hired by the manufacturer examines the product, they find new, serious problems.


Secretary Bowen you face some hard choices which must be made in a short time frame. I wish I could offer more than the following suggestions.

1.    Do not rely on the results of the NASED/ITA model. It has failed and the certifications issued under the program is not be worth the paper they are written on. I would urge the Secretary to consider creating a multi-state testing consortium. This idea was first presented to the state by Eric Lazarus during the Voting Testing Summit sponsored by the State of California in 2005. His paper is found here[6] is entitled: "A Vision for the Testing of Election Systems in a HAVA World". An expansion on the framework proposed by Mr. Lazarus is found here[7] and is entitled: "Testing Election Software Effectively". I have misgivings that the EAC/NIST/VSTL model currently under construction is little more than the NASED/ITA model with different acronyms.

2.    To the extent possible limit the expansion of this unreliable and inaccessible voting technology. Consider technology which actually expands accessibility such as non-tallying ballot marking devices (e.g. Automark or Vote-PAD) or systems which print ballots on demand under the direction of voters. Expanding the franchise to those with disabilities or who are in a language minority is goal which resonates with the deepest aspirations of the American ideal. We should select technology which is both appropriate and effective in realizing this ideal.

3.    Sequoia was asked by Bruce McDannold in December of 2005 if there were interpreters or interpreted code found on voting systems from Sequoia. What was the company response to this question? The representations made by Sequoia which have been contradicted by the security assessment team must be assessed to determine if those representations constitute fraud.

4.    Determine, if possible, whether the non-conformances found by the top-to-bottom review were also found by the NASED/ITA. Testing results are under the NASED/ITA model are consider trade secrets held by the equipment manufacturer. Thus it is possible the reported non-conformances were discovered by the NASED/ITA process and granted waivers, but the disclosure of such waivers has been blocked by the assertion of trade secrets and the enforcement of non-disclosure agreements.

Even if you ultimately decide to use the currently certified systems, continue to vigorously test these systems beyond this Friday. Information acquired late is better than no information. You will need all the evidence and information possible in order to make an informed and prudent decision. I fear any decision you make on these voting systems (keep the certifications as is, decertify all, decertify some, mandate specific procedures, etc.) will deeply anger some segment of the people you have chosen to serve. On this matter I can only offer this advice: It is better to squarely face the uncomfortable truth than accept the comforting lie. Postponement should be avoided. As hard as it is in the immediate good things flow from following the truth and bad things will drown as you hide the refuge of the lie.

[1] http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vsr.htm

[2] http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/ttbr /accessibility review report california ttb absolute final version16.pdf

[3] http://www.eac.gov/vvsg_intro.htm

[4] http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/ttbr/red_sequoia.pdf

[5] http://www.washburnresearch.org/archive/ FCMGroup/ CraftFreeman02.pdf

[6] http://www.sos.ca.gov/ elections/vstsummit/presentations/a vision for testing election systems lazarus.ppt

[7] http://votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=870&Itemid=26

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Forged Signatures are Under Investigation

I followed up with Susan Edman, Executive Director of the City of Milwaukee election Commission, regarding the disposition of the forged signatures on the Ward 1 paper work. See the signatures for yourself here or here on page 3.

I confirmed with the office of the Milwaukee County District Attorney the matter ("the Samantha Smith thing") been official referred by Ms. Edman to the DA for investigation. Such a referral is part of the duties of a Municipal Clerk (or executive director of an election commission) under WI Stats. 7.15(1)(g).

This is the same office of the district attorney which was part of the joint task force. But, because of the November 7, 2006 it is not the same district attorney.

Perhaps DA Chisholm will investigate this where DA McCann apparently did not.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Interviewed on Peter B. Collins Show

This Monday, July 23, 2007, I was interviewed by Brad Friedman of the BradBlog regarding the forged signatures on the Ward 1 paperwork. Brad Friedman is the guest host for the Peter B. Collins show for the week of July 23, 2007. Mr. Friedman allowed me to guest blog an article about these signatures and numbers on his site.

For those who want to listen, the audio of the radio interview is found within this post on the BradBlog.

The interview is split across the end of the second hour and the beginning of the third hour. The interview begins at minute 27:00 of the second hour and continues until 4:00 minutes into the third hour. If you like the topic of this blog you will likely enjoy the 7 minutes, which follow my sign-off where the caller, Tom Courbat, of Riverside California explains his California experience.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Consider a Donation

If the research of this site is behavior you would like to encourage, nothing encourages quite like cash.

I you would like to donate, there are two ways.

You can make a donation to the tip jar or you can purchase merchandise which says Electronic Voting: The Truth is a Trade Secret.

100% of the tip jar is used to fund this research.
10% of the merchandise price funds the reseach of this site.

Why VVPAT Is not Enough

The University of Connecticut has release a new report on the Diebold TSx Touch screen DRE.

The primary finding is that in a "sleepover" situation where the TSx DRE is sent home with the poll worker days or in the case of San Diego weeks ahead of time, it is possible to alter the ballot definitions of the DRE. The alteration would create the behavior where the votes for two candidates are exchanged. Thus, the voter touches the screen next to name of John Smith, the screen lights up the selection for John Smith, the voter verifiable paper audit trail prints the name John Smith, but, none the less, the invisible electronic ballot accrues the vote to Pocahontas. Similarly, voters intending to vote for Pocahontas would have the votes accrue to John Smith. This is a straight up exchange of votes between two candidates.

The report also mentions how to suppress the display of a given candidate.

The need tools for either of these exploits are:
    1) a laptop with a PCMCIA card reader,

    2) One of the following three: a screw driver, lock picking skills, or a hotel mini-bar key, and

    3) The desire to "take one for the team" and commit a felony to further your candidate.

It must be stressed this all was discovered with nothing more than access to the DRE machine. There was no access to any information an election official would not normally have or any information which a determined citizen could not find out during a DRE sleep over prior to an election.

The take away here is that if you can poison the well, the computer programming and/or configuration files in the DRE, everything which proceeds from the DRE is potentially corrupted as well. You end up with consistent election records, but not accurate election records.

Friday, July 20, 2007

But, I did report this

My YouTube video has been picked up by Boots and Sabers. In the comments of the Boots and sabers entry, John advises me to observe, document, and report.

For two years I have observed, documented, and reported. For the specific items on the video, I did bring this to the attention of the City Election Commission. I reported it to Neil Albrecht that very night. I reported both the machine fault and the adjournment of the canvass to an undisclosed location.

The items on the tape are not isolated instances nor are they confined to the City of Milwaukee. Well, the adjournment was new.

On both November 2, 2004 and April 5, 2005 for Germantown District #1 the optical scanner had a similar software fault as on the video. The number of ballots cast as reported by the machine did not match the number of ballots given to voters according to the poll lists. In both cases the election officials positively identified the discrepancy as an error in the machine's ability to count. Locked in the ballot box beneath the scanner were the 3426 ballots the poll list stated were handed to electors not the 3415 total ballots the scanner claimed to have scanned. But, after proving the easiest number for the machine to count (how many pieces of paper went under the scanner lights) was absolutely, positively incorrect, the municipal clerk in boths cases then accepted every other number on the poll tape as if it were correct.

I reported the illegal poll worker for Milwaukee city ward 13, from the February 15, 2005 election to the City Election Commission in writing in March 2005. I reported this to the Wisconsin State Elections Board. I reported this to Officer Saxton of the joint task force.

I saw the same failure to reconcile the number of ballots cast (as reported by the machine) to number ballots distributed (as reported by the poll books) in the April 5, 2005 election for ward 188/189. I told the Election Commission of this in writing at that time.

In city ward 181 for the November 2, 2006, voted ballots were not secured and this fact was not discovered until three months later during the first ever random audit. During that meeting Mr. Albrecht explained to the staff of the state election board about a fascinating extra-legal entity called the “stray ballot bag”. It is the bag into which all the “stray ballots” are put. Stray ballots are voted ballots marked by electors which are found in voting machines bins by the county warehousing personnel as the voting machines are broken down for storage.

This recurring mis-canvassing of elections is part of my complaint before the Wisconsin State Election Board which has been on hold for two years because the City Election Commission hid the records with the Joint Task Force.

What more would the commenter John suggest I do?

I taped because all of these prior incidents slipped quietly into the dark waters of officialdom without a ripple. Then, those same official publicly proclaim: "There is no evidence of problems with the machines or the canvassing. Move along, Citizens, there is nothing to see here."

I refuse to "move along"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Process Improvement? You Decide.

I have been assured by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission that the canvassing process for election administration has been improved. I even have a letter assuring me that there was complete compliance in the paperwork for the 2006 elections.

I still have my doubts.

The first 100 wards

Here is the table of the paperwork and ballot numbers for the first 100 wards of the City of Milwaukee from the November 2, 2004 general election.

The six wards with the largest variances between the number of ballots counted by the scanners and the number of ballots handed to electors are wards 1, 12, 44, 54, 59, and 76.

Ward 44 had 470 more ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.
Ward 54 had 449 more ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.
Ward 1 had 148 more ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.
Ward 59 had 144 fewer ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.
Ward 76 had 79 more ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.
Ward 12 had 75 more ballots scanned than handed to electors. Here is the paperwork.

This is a variance of 1365 ballots (1077 net), confined to only six wards in the City of Milwaukee.

Keeping records this poorly is in and of itself a clear violation of WI Stats. 7.51(2)a which requires that the number of ballots counted (in the scanner lock box) and the number of ballots distributed to electors (from the poll list) MUST be reconciled. This required reconciliation is described on pages 63-70 (PDF pages 69-76) of the official Election Day Manual.

Again, how do you miss this after "investigating" for TWO YEARS? At some point, someone should demand to see the billing records for the personnel of the task force.

Whether from malice or incompetence, these election officials clearly cannot be trusted to administer an election and should be barred from election work for five years as provided by WI Stats. 12.60(3).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ballot Box Stuffing In Ward One??

I am beginning to go through the copies of November 2, 2004 election records provided to me last week.

It is so appropriate that there is a major discrepancy in the paperwork for the first ward I examined. Ward One is located in the Silver Spring Elementary School at 5131 North Green Bay Avenue. Here are the 4 pieces of paper I have received so far from the City Election Commission. They are:
The end of day poll tape generated by the Optech IIIP Eagle scanner
One of the two signature pages from the poll lists used during the November 2, 2004 election.
The cover page from the City’s copy of the inspectors’ report, and
The cover page from the County’s copy of the inspectors’ report.

The signatures on the cover pages of the inspectors’ reports are obvious forgeries. Both the names are bogus (e.g. Joe Doe) and are clearly written in the same hand. The hand which "signed" the inspectors’ reports does not match any of the signatures I redacted from the poll book list. Moreover, the person who signed the two inspectors' report did so twice; once for City copy and once for the County Copy. Creating false canvass reports is a felony under WI Stats 12.13(2)(b)4

The numbers do not match. The Optech IIIP Eagle claims it scanned 1219 ballots. On the poll book certification page, the poll workers claim 1071 ballots were handed to electors. On the Inspectors’ reports with the forged signatures, it is claimed 981 ballots were handed to electors. If I believe the machine and the poll book, then the ballot box in Ward One was stuffed with 148 extra ballots. If I believe the machine and the forged inspectors’ report, the ballot box is stuffed with 238 extra ballots.

This leads to two questions which fascinate me.

1) How many ballots are currently sealed in the ballot bag for Ward One; 1219 ballots, 1071 ballots, 981 ballots, or some other number of ballots?

2) How is that this anomaly was never discovered after two years of "investigation" by the Joint Task Force? What have US Attorney Steve Biskupic and the County District Attorney McCann/Chisholm been doing for two years if such clear statute violations were missed?

After all stuffing a ballot box is a felony under WI Stats. 12.13(2)(b)3 , removing the stuffed ballots from the ballot box (if discovered) is required under WI Stats. 7.51(2)c, and failing to remove extra ballots stuffed into a ballot box (if discovered) is a misdemeanor under WI Stats. 12.13(2)a. The felony and misdemeanor definitions for violations of WI Stats 12.13 are found WI Stats. 12.60

Monday, July 16, 2007

November 2, 2004 Election Records Available Again

More than two years ago, the Milwaukee Election Commission claimed the election records for the November 2, 2004 election were confiscated (on or about April 1, 2005) by the joint task force headed up by US attorney Biskupic and Milwaukee County DA E. Michael McCann. One of the results of my lawsuit was the discovery that this story line was untrue. Contrary to its clear statutory duty under WI Stats 7.24 to retain election records, the Election Commission voluntarily gifted the tasked force with the election records back in April 2005. Then, for the next two years, the City Election Commission then used this voluntary transfer as the reason why open records requests could not be fulfilled. The Commission used the voluntary transfer as the reason why the Wisconsin State Election Board could not investigate any complaints about the shoddy administration of elections in the City.

Well, the election records are back in in the office of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission. All of the election records from the November 2, 2004 election are available for inspection and copying for the next six months. If you have a pending open records request, the City Election Commission will now provide copies of the records requested.

It will be nice to see the resumption the prior investigations which were interrupted back in the spring of 2004 by the records transfer ruse. I will include in a later post some of the interesting things I have found so far just trying to catalog the records provided as part of my request for 1248 specific canvassing records.

Perhaps we in Milwaukee can even have the help of national talent such as Mark Crispin Miller or Bob Fitrakis. Mr. Miller and Mr. Fitrakis have done incredible work over the last two years investigating the many election anomalies in Ohio. And make no mistake those anomalies are real and disturbing. In the interest of balance, perhaps they would like to come to Milwaukee now that actual investigations of November 2, 2004 can truly begin.

For those who will say just move on, the election is over the investigating is done. It is true the election is over, but there were no thourogh investigations of this election. It is clear US Attorney Biskupic was focused on the actions of individual voters and not focused on election fraud. "let 'em go" Micheal McCann had his usual focus of election fraud and voter fraud. Milwaukee County is a prosecution-free zone.

You cannot move on or close an investigation if the investigation was never begun in the first place.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

City Election Commission Destroyed Records

The City of Milwaukee Election Commission got a court order and has destroyed 2/3 of the election records which are the subject to my election complaint before the Wisconsin State Elections Board.

I was asked to produce the full report in regards to my reporting of the illegal election official hired and retained by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission for Ward 13 during the February, 15, 2005 election. I only included and retained the cover page of that particular inspectors' report (form EB-104) for my WI SEB complaint.

In order to get the the full inspectors' report I filed an open records request on June 25, 2007

On June 28, 2007, Sue Edman, Executive Director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, responded by stating the records were destroyed as per the incorrect statutes.

Today, I asked for the name of the Milwaukee County Circuit Judge who authorized the destruction of these election records under WI Stats 7.23(2). With my emphasis, WI Stats 7.23(2), reads in part:

If there is a demand for a recount, notice of an election contest or any contest or litigation pending with respect to an election, materials may be destroyed and recorders, units or compartments may be cleared or erased only by order of the judge in whose court litigation is pending or if no litigation is pending, by order of any circuit judge for the affected jurisdiction.


I will let you know the name of the judge as soon I find out.

11/2/2004 Open Records Update

To the long-time readers of this blog, I apologize for this recap.

For more than two years, I have been seeking copies of the records for the November 2, 2004 general election which are held by the City of Milwaukee Election. My reasons are three-fold.

One, I can. Both Wisconsin election statutes (chapter 7) and Wisconsin open records law (Chapter 19) state these record are absolutely accessible to the public. It offends me that citizens are prohibited from overseeing the administration of elections.

Two, I need the records to substantiated my complaint before Wisconsin State Elections Board. I filed a complaint with the Wisconsin State Elections Board claiming that for three consecutive elections (September 14, 2004, November 2, 2004, and February 15, 2005) City election officials routinely and willfully conducted illegal canvasses. I substantiated my claims for some wards for the September 14, 2004 and for some wards for the February 15, 2005 election. I have no copies of records for the November 2, 2004 election to substantiate my claims for this election.

Three, I want 8,000 mark-sense ballots to test the viability of my sort and weigh proposal. It would be nice to have evidence instead of speculation on the viability of this ballot counting proposal. Milwaukee is the last jurisdiction in the country with such a large number of interesting (more than 10 races) paper, mark-sense ballots in the country which have actually been marked by actual voters in an actual election.

After, asking and being denied for more than two years, I filed suit in Wisconsin circuit court to have at least my 1248 requested records released. Sorry, Owen, for now, you are on your own for your request for 1306 records.

The excellent news is that as of yesterday, Monday, July 2, 2004, Robert Dreps and Jennifer Peterson, open records attorneys from the law firm of Godrey and Kahn, have agreed to represent me. The billing rate is very reasonable.

One of the first things Mr. Dreps discovered yesterday was that the records were never confiscated from the offices of the Election Commission. The records were voluntarily surrendered to the task force. This means that two years of "We don't have the records" and two years of "The records were taken from us by the Task Force" are, at best, disingenuous. Since, the surrender of records was voluntary; the Election Commission could have demanded the return of the records from the task force at any time. Instead the election commission chose rebuff open records requests (in violation of WI Stats. 19.31), rather than fulfill those open records requests.

The lesson learned for me is sue early. Don't wait because some sweet-talkin' Federal Prosecutor says he will investigate only to learn later he has no intention of investigating election officials.

Again, sue as soon as the case is ripe. See the next post on why that lesson was twice-learned this week.