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, August 23, 2008

GAB to Limit Election Observation

This Wednesday, August 27, 2008, the Government Accountability Board (successor to the State Elections Board) is proposing to limit the ability of the public to observe elections. This limitation is item G on the meeting agenda.
  • The draft of the proposed rules I received on August 5, 2008 is here.
  • My comments to the restrictions on election observers are here
  • The proposed rules as revised on August 18, 2008 is here. This is the version to be discussed Wednesday.
  • The full set of comments recieved by the GAB on this issue begin on page 51 of this large (22 megabyte) PDF file.
The current draft is better than the prior draft in that the GAB seems to realize election activities in a polling place on election day are an open meeting and thus can be reasonably recorded by citizens. Unfortunately, there are still problems.
  • The rules prohibit videotaping the equipment set-up that happens before the before polling begins.[This statement is incorrect. Proposed rule GAB4.01(20) would include the activity which occurs in a polling place prior to the opening of polling (e.g. equipment setup) . I deeply regret this error. jww*]
  • The rules prohibit videotaping any of the public activities of an election which occur in the office of the municipal or county clerk.
  • The rules prohibit videotaping of the Milwaukee County canvass which occurs in the office of Milwaukee County Election Director, Janice Dunn, three days after the election.
  • The rules prohibit videotaping the municipal canvass of vote which happens in Office of the Milwauke City Election Commission located in room 501 of City Hall.
  • The rules prohibit videotaping the municipal canvass of vote which happens in the office of the office of the municipal clerk.
All of the above activities clearly meet the definition of an open meeting found in WI Stats 19.82 and thus are available to be video taped under WI Stats. 19.90

On the other hand the addition of proposed rule GAB4,01(14) is an excellent addition to the August 18, 2008 draft from August 5, 2008 draft. This proposed rule reads:

Observers shall not be permitted to handle an original version of any official election document

It always bothered me that the NPR reporter, a candidate, and I were allowed to touch the election materials as documented in this YouTube video

Under Wisconsin statutes the chief election inspector is held to full account for the election administration within a polling location. It is right and proper that the chief election inspector have the authority to exercise the necessary power to control that administration. Having the public pawing through the election records on election day leaves the chief election inspector with responsibility and accountability without the power and control to meet those responsibilities.

These rules are a step in the right direction.

One of the primary duties of the Elections Division of the Government Accountability Board is to give clear direction to state election officials on how to conduct elections in a lawful manor. These rules give clear and uniform directions. This is good. The clear and uniform directions to violate the open meetings law are not.

* I dislike the memory hole effect on the internet where embarassing information in the contents of a URL "disappear". My solution is to highlight such revisions in green. Again I appologize for confusing GAB4.01(19) of the 8/5/2008 draft with the GAB 4.01(20) of the current, 8/18/2008 draft of the regulations.


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