Oh…and it is MY Fault
Command Central has a Scary Secret
Command Central is the vendor for electronic voting machines in Crawford and many other counties throughout Wisconsin. Who is Command Central? Command Central is a private corporation that supplies election hardware and the programming and tabulation software that goes along with it. Yet they have no real oversight by any government agency, elected official(s), or the judiciary. Therefore the corporation holds a very scary and unique secret that flies in the face of Democracy. In a country that was founded with a constitution to provide a proven structure of checks and balances among the three branches of government, Command Central has none.
Oversight over land development and water quality but not your vote?
What other private corporation providing service to the government is free of checks and balances and oversight? The private companies that contract repair and construct our highways, towers, and bridges are under strict scrutiny. Mining and land development interests must meet exacting standards to insure that drinking water, and the drainage of the land is not compromised. Now comes the irony that is almost embarrassing: where is the oversight when it comes protecting our most vital act in our Democracy – our vote? It is a secret. Not only do we allow Command Central to write secret programming to count our votes, but instead of oversight and scrutiny Command Central’s most undemocratic secret gets protection and blind compliance from elected officials.
When rightfully concerned citizens attempt to verify the accuracy of the machine vote count, or inspect election materials after the vote, they are met by the Government Accountability Board and Kevin Kennedy and County Clerks with obstruction and vilification like so many gnats circling the vote bags like it was spilled koolaid.
(The picture at left shows the retired GAB judges on a misdated poll tape discovered during the Spring Supreme Court election recount)
A fly in the election soup
On this blog, I have reported on my own attempt to satisfy my curiosity about the Recall Election outcome in Crawford County, which Walker won even though the county voted a comfortable win for Obama in ’08, Barrett in ’10, Shilling in the Senate recall election, yet, as in so many other rural areas in Wisconsin, Walker won Crawford County by 100+ votes.
So, one day, after the June 5 election I went to County Clerk’s office to get more information about the details, only to discover that the Command Central provided memory cards that hold the official vote count weren’t there; they had already been sent back to Command Central’s office near St. Cloud Minnesota on June 14, a full week before the June 21 deadline when election materials are to kept secure for citizen inspection or the possibility of a recount. Read “Cartridges, Clerks, and Men in White Suits”.
Open Records Request
I presented Clerk Giesler with on open records request for the return of the cartridges (memory cards) to which she responded, “You mean you want us to get these back?”. She also spoke a bit about how the early send back came to be. Another important piece of information – it seems the County did hold the cartridges for the full “inspection period” but it cost the county $40 to send them back, so guess what? – Command Central had offered to store them for the county, promising to hold them until the “secure date” had lapsed. Command Central’s contract includes a provision to abide by state statutes, yet, here they were, “offering” to have cartridges returned to them before the deadline detailed in the state statutes. What’s more, this cozy storage of cartridges, that occupy no more space than your top dresser drawer, was not unique to Crawford County. It was discovered that other county clerks throughout the state had also participated in this “early send back syndrome”, but all politics is local so I remained focus on my dear old Crawford County.
$12,400 Worth of Information Control
So, the cartridges were returned, but the information sought was on the cartridges. The only logical way of determining if they had been swiped or altered was to request to download the information on the cartridge…and the fly landed and vibrated it’s rear legs…SWAT!
There followed an exchange of email that first suggested I could download the information on the cartridges but it would cost taxpayers $200 to replace each cartridge for each machine, to which I countered with an offer to download three cartridges from three different wards…I even offered to pay for the cartridges that would be downloaded…SWAT!
The email of final determination of how I could attain the open records request was:
Mr. Kerns –
In your latest e-mail you advised that you would be providing $200 for the downloading of information from one election cartridge. This information will be downloaded by Command Central onto a CD which will then be provided to you after you have selected which municipality that you want the information downloaded from. Corporation Counsel has already advised you that this would be the procedure that would be followed. This should then satisfy your open records request.
Please be further advised that any correspondence in this matter will only be addressed with you. I will not be responding to any other e-mails that I receive from other parties.
Please advise me as soon as possible if it still your intention to come to my office today so that arrangements can be made.
I could pay $200 to have the cartridge(s) sent back to, (can you believe it?) Command Central! Command Central who shared responsibility for the early send back in the first place. They would then download the information and send me a copy to answer any specific questions? The perpetrator of the crime asks to make the DNA sampling, and I get to pay for it?…SWAT!
My email response:
Dear Clerk Giesler,
I read your attached response. You might be relieved to know there is only one of me – Kern is not plural.
The response is not acceptable for the obvious reason – that Command Central’s diligence is in question since they were a party to the early send back in the first place, yet they reserve the right to interpret the information held on the card in secret? They cannot be a party to breaking a state statute on one hand and protection of state statute on the other. It seems the contract between Command Central and Crawford County would address this issue.
At present I consider the response a denial of a open records request.
How I became the Villain
Now, we are right back where we started by demonstrating how the compliance and complicity of elected officials and the GAB run counter to the constitution’s system of checks and balances. The lack of transparency and secretive nature of Command Central is being defended! This corporation is allowed to impose fees that influence the county clerks against the citizens’ request for the open records truth.
Clerk Giesler’s response demonstrates how those requesting open records information are made out to be the villains:
|I am sorry that you feel that your open records request has been denied. I do disagree with this statement in that I have tried very diligently to satisfy your request. Because you feel that you have been denied, the voting machine cartridges cannot be returned and will remain in my vault. The taxpayers of Crawford County must now incur costs of $12,400 so that all new cartridges can be burned for the August primary election. I will be providing the Crawford County Independent with the costs for the cartridges as they have requested this information.|
How did this get to be my fault? It was the collusion of Command Central and Clerk Geisler that resulted in the early send back of the cartridges against the spirit of state statutes.
It was Clerk Giesler that allowed Command Central to dictate exorbitant fees for cartridges as was documented in a Wisconsin Circuit Court deposition of Lawrence Zins, Command Central, Vice President. Read Deposition of Lawrence Zins
It is Command Central that demands propriety and payment against the wording of the Freedom of Information Act.
How did I become the party responsible for taking $12,400 from the taxpayers of Crawford County?
Dear Clerk Geisler,
I too am sorry that Lawrence Zins, Command Central, and Dominiom have demonstrated how they control the election process in our County and our State. I seriously ask you to consider administering the Senate Primary Election with hand counted paper ballots since it is an election that promises lower turnout and would save the taxpayers this ourtrageous outlay of money for the benefit of Command Central.
As to the expense, I suggest you read the attached deposition for the Circuit Court of Wisconsin of Lawence Zins as he testifies as to the manner in which the costs are determined to copy, and program cartridges.
If it is of any consolation to you, you have my vote for Crawford County Clerk. You have been most helpful and professional through this process. In the end, I could not, in good conscience, pay $200 for the data on one cartridge to prove the information on the cartridges was not altered or swiped. The burden of proof was on them, in my opinion, and they have demonstrated their disregard for transparency, open records requests, and fair inspection of election materials by the voters of Crawford County.
I am seeking legal advice on future actions in this matter.