Finally something both parties can agree on
Kevin Kennedy presents as an even keeled, likeable fellow who could easily be cast into the part in an old episode of “Murder She Wrote”, where he might be aptly described as a well meaning but fumbling character whose incompetence has been long overlooked and accepted only due to his ability disarm his opponents by sheer inactivity and thus leave his adversaries retreating out of prolonged boredom. The personae of “Mr. Nice Guy” has nestled him comfortably, over three decades, into the cocoon of complacency that has become the Government Accountability Board (GAB).
Kennedy has created a culture of suspicion and defensiveness among the county clerks throughout the state, and rather than ushering in the sunlight of transparency, he has positioned himself and the GAB as the leader of the promulgation of rules and postures designed to block the democratic process on the county and municipal level. Kennedy is seen as the defensive team captain to call on to create plays to block requests for open records information and examination. His leadership has instilled a fear into the hearts minds of local elected officials that the process of elections in the state are to go unquestioned, and if questioned they are to go unanswered.
The call for Kevin Kennedy to resign is not based solely on his impassive and incompetent response to turmoil raised in the Supreme Court election or the recalls of the past year and a half, but on his nature to shuffle, obfuscate, and delay any proceeding or investigation that does not fit his “do it my way” administrative fault of three decades! The early warning message of this fault was first sounded in 2007, well before the GAB was created and Kennedy was in the earliest stages of creating his dynasty of derision that began 29 years ago on August 17 1983, during the term of Dem Governor, Tony Earl.
December 26, 2007
The State of Wisconsin entered into a contract on November 12, 2004 with the global outsourcing firm Accenture to develop a statewide voter registration list. Under the contract, Accenture was to be paid $13.9 million for computer software development and maintenance. Subsequent changes to the agreement boosted the figure to $14.1 million.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s director and other citizens seeking cancellation of the contract on the grounds that state Elections Board director Kevin Kennedy lacked legal authority to sign the Accenture contract. The Elections Board did not vote to approve the contract before it was signed, and did not vote to authorize a Request for Proposals soliciting bids from private vendors.
UPDATE: The state Elections Board announced December 26, 2007 that an agreement was reached ending the state’s contract with Accenture to create a computerized statewide voter registration system. The Democracy Campaign fought the arrangement for three years, and that fight ended with Accenture being given its walking papers.
Kennedy was an early proponent of privatization, and of all the possible pit falls of that pursuit, he sought privatization of our elections, placing the most golden right of the people into the hands of private corporations like Command Central. Your vote was privatized by low profile entities that have no oversight by any elected official or government agency – local, state, or federal. Voting machines contracted for by Kevin Kennedy are computers that count votes. Computers function through programing. The programing that counts your vote is considered proprietary; a trade secret.
Kennedy’s privatization of the vote count was enabled by contracts with voting machine vendors like Command Central, that give the corporation the power of the purse over the decision making of elected officials like your local county clerk.
Case in point
A discovery was made in Crawford County. Memory cards that hold the programing for the vote count in the June 5 recall election were sent back to the vender, Command Central, on June 14; a week before state statutes dictate that election materials are to be kept “secure”. A opens records request was filed to have them returned and read as an assurance they had not been altered or swiped. Command Central was given the power to dictate how the information would be provided as sent in an email for the Crawford County Clerk:
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.
After it was discovered that Crawford County had sent back memory cards before the 21 day period when they were to be kept secure [GAB 5.02 WI stats. 7.23(1)(g)], forty-five Wisconsin Counties, who use Command Central’s SEQ-AVC Edge II DRE touch screen machines, were sent open record requests to inspect the memory cards for each polling place in each county under [WI stats. 19.31-19.39]. It was further discovered that 23 counties had sent back memory cards early. Not only were the memory cards vacated from the County Clerks’ offices but they were sent out-of-state to Command Central’s office in St. Cloud, Minnesota. In the end, Command Central was empowered to threaten counties with over $345,000 in penalties if they were to follow open records requests.
FOIA Open Records Requests were Ignored, Minimized, and Dismissed
Initially, the Government Accountability Board and Administrator Keven Kennedy rushed to the defense of the clerks and issued 15 rules of engagement with citizens, authorizing the use of tactics such as charging citizens for staff time to inspect records, forbidding them to touch the materials, and 13 other practices to make it near impossible for citizens to confirm election results without a huge bank account, and all the equipment of a CSI episode.
Then the State Attorney Generals office, slapped the hands of Kevin Kennedy and the clerks of Wisconsin with an “Urgent Memorandum” stressing that the FOIA Act was not a small claims court issue, and that Kennedy and the GAB had no legislative authority and that state election law did not apply.
The Crawford County Independent covered the story and not only did Kevin Kennedy not return a call for comment, he also advised Command Central to hold comment on the early send back issure.
Chad Trice, Command Central’s Vice-President, said there were limits on the comments he could make about election security regarding the cartridges.
“The GAB has instructed us to not comment on this specifically,” Trice said when asked about the security used to ensure election programming was accurate and unaltered
30 years – too long for an oversight administrator
The prevailing attitude is that two terms or more may be too long for a legislator. 30 years for the administrator of an oversight agency is an eternity. Kevin Kennedy has developed his network of control for three decades, telling vendors what to say to whom, and pontificating policy to county clerks on how to avoid the hassle of open records requests. His administration of policies for counting the vote have resulted in a system that is a messy network of multiple vendors of machines of various varieties across the state in a confusing maze of touch screens and scanners that vary by county, ward, and within wards – all of these with no oversight of the programing that operates the count.
His policies have erupted in complaints of vote fraud by Republicans and election fraud by Democrats, open, ripped, and torn vote bags, and chain of custody issues in every election. All the while, the even keeled and likeable Kevin Kennedy either says nothing or he warns the “fraud finders”, of either party, to follow his example and just be quiet; that they are jeopardizing the confidence of the Wisconsin voter with their chorus of “Fraud!”.
It is not the people who cry “fraud!” who are to blame for a lack of confidence in the integrity of their vote in election after election. It is the culture of derision, and the policy of privatization and secrecy Kennedy has nurtured in his 30 year tenure of Administrator of the Elections Board and the GAB.
Thanks for your service. It is time to turn over the reigns to transparency, integrity, and fresh young blood