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, October 27, 2007

Swearing out a Complaint

As I posted earlier, Washington County District Attorney, Todd K. Martens, does not think it is his job to enforce state election law within the Washington County courthouse.

In order to force his hand and set the ground work to take this to circuit court and/or to the State's Attorney General, I filed a formal complaint under WI Stats. 5.08 outlining 14 criminal lapses of WI Stats.7.23(1)(g) by the Washington County Clerk, Brenda Jaszewski to backup electronic election records.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

The most interesting information today thousgh was from the clerk of Washington County, Brenda Jaszewski.

As I was delivering a copy of the complaint and its supporting exhibits, I asked Ms. Jaszewski if she had made any backups of the memory cards yet. She told me that the GEMS election management system from Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (now Premier Election Solutions) provide no feature or function to her so she can comply with the backup requirents of WI Stats.7.23(1)(g). I then asked her if she has destroyed the data containing election information from the April 3, 2007 in preparation for the upcoming November 9, 2007 School Bond Referendum in West Bend. On this question Ms. Jaszewski lawyered up and State should would not answer that question until she had first conferred with the county attorney.

I wonder if Ms. Jaszewski remembers her trip to the Brookfield Village Hall with ten other county clerks on January 18, 2006. She and other clerks from around the state came before the Wisconsin State Elections Board to demand that the Board certify the exact Diebold Election System equipment and software which is failing her now.

Back in August, 2005 through December, 2006 myself and others around the state and country were pointing out that the election equipment and software from Diebold did not meet the minimum statutory requirements of Wisconsin. In January, 2006 Clerk Jaszewski took time to actively pressure the WI State Elections Board to certify "her" equipment.

Now that Ms. Jaszewski has to admit that the Diebold system fails to meet yet another state statutory requirement, I have very little sympathy for her. She fought very hard 18 months ago to buy the bed in which she must now lie.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on John ..
1) You very easily left out the fact the NONE of the Wisconsin county clecks have the ability with current equipment to perform the backups you are so dearly in need of.
2)As far as the equipment goes ... I don't believe there is a whole lot of choices. Everything is mandated by the state election board. I don't see any solutions offered by you ???
3)I'm sure the DA has many more "important" issues to deal with. I think he has already spent more (of my tax money) on your non-sense.
4)I think you do some good work, sometimes, but come on, in this case you need to get a better hobby ... I think your reaching just a bit. These clerks, including Ms. Jaszewski, have their hands full with the crap that comes down from the state. I'm sure they do everything possible to meet any laws,to suggest otherwise is just malicious.
5) How long did it take you to find something that nobody asked about for 20 years ... must be proud.

Wed Oct 31, 11:17:00 AM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

So, let me see if I understand this?

Law breaking and not keeping election records is OK as long as it goes unnoticed for a long time; like adverse possession?

I disagree with that.

Statutes as important as keeping vital election records are essential in order to audit elections and allow citizens to oversee the activities of their (possibly uppitty) civil servants.

What happens next year when Wisconsin is in the cross hairs of the November 4, 2008 election and certain election records come up missing? I would not want to be the WI clerk answering those questions from the national press. CYA alone should prompt a clerk to back up everything in sight.

As for the five specific points I will answer each in turn.

Adverse Possession: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_possession

Wed Oct 31, 01:38:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

Point One: Your unsubstantiated statement:

NONE of the Wisconsin county clerks have the ability with current equipment to perform the backups you are so dearly in need of

I do not need the records. I want them and have a statuory right to them.

But, on the larger point, I do not agree with you that if these systems don't support the required backup. The central election management system of each vendor (UNITY, GEMS, WinEDS, VoTWare, and Populex) can and does read and write to each memory location of the memory cards, cartridges, and PEBs used by that system. So, copying (reading) the content of the cards for backing up the data is probably available.

But, if you are correct, then NONE of these systems are legal in the state and should not have been certified by the Wisconsin State Elections Board. Ms. Jaszewski and Ms Ertmer of Winnebago County personally petitioned the WI SEB to certified the system used in their counties in spite of other statutory shortcomings possessed by those systems. The assembled clerks promised the Board that their policies and procedures could handle any statutory deficiencies of the system.

Well, now it is time to delivery on that promise. Get the vendor to provide the functionality required by law, get your money back, or buy a third party card reader so you can comply with the law.

There are options available for the lawful administration of elections even with the current voting systems.

Wed Oct 31, 01:43:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

Point Two:

Yes, all the equipment is certified by the state. Yes, everything is mandated by the state election board.

Computers are not needed to cast and tally votes. Computers, for some tasks, are convenient, but they are not required.

If we are not going to backup the vital election records created by the election computers which select the school board, trustees, clerks, DA's, Governors, Senators, and Deciders, then we should not use computers. If you want to use your computers, see the response to point one, comply or buy the extra equipment needed to comply.

The state law is clear here and the fact that the clerks and the WI SEB collude to ignore the statutory requirement does not make it any less of a statutory requirement.

Wed Oct 31, 01:44:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

Point Three:

I'm sure the DA has many more "important" issues to deal with. I think he has already spent more (of my tax money) on your non-sense.

I disagree. The DA does not have more important things to do than enforce the law.

Making sure the clerk administering the West Bend School Referendum is lawfully administering election seems important to me. What if there is an election contest on such a contentious issue? Ms. Jaszewski's stubborn refusal to require her system support her election adminstration activities in a lawful way will not be good for her if the losing side on the November 9, 2007 contest the election.

She has legal exposure under both state and federal statutes here.

Self-interested CYA alone should motivate her to back up the data as required by law.

Wed Oct 31, 01:48:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

Point five:

How long did it take you to find something that nobody asked about for 20 years ... must be proud.

Six months.

It was the illegal transfer of election records by the City of Milwaukee which prompted me to read WI Stats. 7.23 back in May, 2007. But, in my defence election oversight is just a hobby for me. A hobby which is interupted by paying consulting work.

It is Ms. Jaszewski's day job to (among other things) administer elections lawfully. It is the full time job of Dianne Lowe, Lead Elections Specialist, and her staff at the WI State Election Board to inform municipal and county clerks on how to comply with the state's election laws.

Since you seem to be a clerk, I would suggest you talk to Ms. Lowe. Her phone number is 608-266-3276 and her email is diane.lowe@seb.state.wi.us.

Yes, I am proud.
(and looking out for the hole and fall which inevitably will follow that statement)

Most of the staff on the elections board and nearly every citizen watch dog in this state is concerned with chapter 11 (campaign finance) and not chapter 7 (election administration). I spoke to a top election lawyer in the state with a ten year specialization in Wisconsin election law. He had never read chapter 7 let alone 7.23(1)(g). Yes, I am proud that I am the first person in 19 years to ask the state's election industry to obey the clear directives of the legislature. No one's noticed this before because no one has been looking.

In that regard I am the top citizen watch dog of election administration in the state because, like Tigger, I am the only one. Not really. Fair Election Wisconsin (http://www.fairelectionswi.com) is active, vocal and on top of these election oversight issues. I am honored they let me associate with them.

If you would like to help though, please contact me or Fair Election Wisconsin. With election oversight, "the harvest is large, but the workers are few".

Wed Oct 31, 02:07:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I caught wind of this through the grapevine. Good debate, but I must say I tend to agree with the reply poster. Yes the law is the law. But it seems like an awfull big stick to use on a small bug. Why didn't you go after the State Elections Board. Probaly would have gotten you more attention. I admit I know a few clerks and again I must agree with the reply poster. They are very limited to what they can and can not do and trust me, thier voice is ignored way more than it is heard.
In summary I think you are right to pursue this issue. I just disagree with your mis-directed frustration at the local level. You have obviously spent many hours researching this. Spend alittle more time thinking out your strategy and your time will be better spent. Thanks

Wed Oct 31, 03:01:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...

I have often gone to the Wisconsin State Elections Board. more than most people in the state I would wager.

The staff of the Board have told me point blank and will be sending yet another leter to me this week that if I think there is a statuory violation I need to go to the local DA. The WI State Election Board is uninterested and formally claims no jurisdiction if the complaint alleges criminal activity. Only if the complaint could lead instead of civil action(s) does the WI SEB hear and investigate.

I have no choice but to file a 5.08 complaint with the local DA and when he turn it down refile the complaint with the Stat AG.

Once these three options (WI SEB, Washington County DA, and Stat AG) are exhausted can i file a mandamus suit in circuit court.

The data on these cards are what count and tally your vote. It is not right that those records are not created and retained as required by law.

But, I'll be honest it irritated me the DA of Washington County put in writing that he did not think it was his job to investigate alleged election crimes. So, there is a spite factor behind my swearing out the formal 5.08 complaint.

Wed Oct 31, 05:29:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what is your solution?
No solution ... just become part of the "nation of victims" mentality???
Better yet ... the sue crazy crowd!!!

Mon Nov 12, 10:04:00 AM CST  
Blogger John Washburn said...

I am pursuing the legal and administrative remedies available to me. That is neither a victim mentality nor sue crazy. Swearing out a criminal complaint is not suing.

When those are avenues are exhausted, I will then go to court to petition for a writ of mandamus.

At that point then, I guess I could be considered sue crazy since I would actually be filling a civil action.

Mon Jan 28, 04:12:00 AM CST  

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