Who are the people of Wisconsin who are counting Recall Election votes?
After working within the system administered by Keven Kennedy’s Government Accountability Board since the April 5, 2011 Supreme Court Election when Waukesha County Clerk, Kathy Nickolaus “found” 14,000 votes, things have changed. Many of the same citizens who observed the recount of that election, who documented ripped and torn vote bags, mis-dated poll tapes, and copies of election inspection documents that were obvious copies, (see proof of fraud tab above) – all clearly indicating the chain of custody of the vote had been broken. There was no way to determine if the votes in the bags were the same votes as packed on election night or not. Yet, the votes were counted and the learning curve began.
These citizen volunteers learned that Kevin Kennedy had created a electronic voting machine monster in the state, where counties contract with private corporations with no over site of the secret computer programing that counts your vote. What’s more, current statutes make it illegal to compare the paper ballots with the digital machine total on any given election night. Kennedy then activated these machines, which vary in model and function from scanners to touch screens from county to county and even ward to ward.
Kathy Nickolaus on Rampage
Then Kennedy created a culture of obstruction within the community of county clerks that administer the elections on the local level; a culture that allowed Kathy Nickolaus to write her own software on a personal computer and when her inept system thew an election, she went unpunished and retains her position of county clerk to this day! Kennedy has set the president that meddling in the count of your vote is not a felony, heck, it is not even a misdemeanor. If you meddle with the vote count in Wisconsin, you get a reprimand and are allowed to keep your office. Why not try it?
Volunteer observers arose early on those chilly Wisconsin mornings of that April 5 election recount, driving as far a 200 miles only to learn that the person who has full charge of how the recount is to be administered is not the GAB or State Attorney General’s office, but the county clerk. Yep. Kathy Nickolaus was the sole authority to determine where the ballots would be stored, and, incidentally, they were stored in her office! The volunteers were treated as interlopers and shown all the courtesy of lepers in a nursery…and the learning curve was bending.
The obstruction to verify the vote was, not only met from the party and candidate who stood to lose the race, but from the party the stood to win! The culture of blind acceptance of Kevin Kennedy’s administration policy of allowing secret programming of voting machines and protecting a host of county clerks who viewed citizens as interlopers, crossed party lines…and the learning curve was bending.
Volunteers began to meet on facebook and groups like Wisconsin Counts! and Election Integrity were formed to promote the use of hand counted paper ballots in the state. They organized a volunteer exit poll during the Senate Recall election last Summer. They scraped together enough money to create a booth to educate people about the difference between voter fraud and election fraud and to demonstrate how electronic voting machines can be programmed to flip votes…and the learning curve was bending.
The June 5 Recall Election Plan
Then came the election of historic proportions with national implications for the political agendas of Republicans and Democrats in the November Presidential race, and with it came the money in truck loads bearing the insignia on door: “Citizens United”. The hype, and media buyout was “as advertized” and Walker began raising big money from big donors across the land, until in the end he would spend $35 per vote received. If ever there was a temptation to flip a vote it arrived in Wisconsin on the wings of tornado from hell.
This time the learning curve was met with the anticipation of Nascar driver on the final turn. Volunteer citizens had learned to expect no support from any party organization, no guidance from Kevin Kennedy or the GAB, no money from big corporations or special interest groups. By now they had learned that. not only would there be no help, but they would meet the obstructive culture of Kevin Kennedy and his cadre of County Clerks. They had only one weapon that was straightened out of the learning curve of the past two years – The Freedom of Information Act.
Open Records Requests
The merry band of citizen volunteers issued open requests in all of the 72 counties of Wisconsin, which would enable them to “trust but verify” the ballots cast in the most expensive state election in history. The requests would enable them to hold the election materials, ballots, memory cards, and election reports, past the 21 days required by state statute. In the process it was discovered that nearly half of the counties had already sent back the memory cartridges to the vendor, Command Central, before the the time they were to kept secure by law. Command Central Penalizes Crawford County $12,400
You may have read some news reports about citizens who are out counting ballots to compare the total to the machine digital count. It is on going, but not without the obstruction of Kevin Kennedy and the County Clerks – they seek to obstruct and prevent the people of Wisconsin from verifying the ballots to the machine count. Kevin Kennedy sent out his directives of obstruction to all the clerks of the state dictating measures they could be imposed to stop the action – like staff fees of $16 – $30 per hour, not allowing citizens to touch the ballots, and imposing timelines that would move the count date to late August. He has maintained this policy even after he was warned by the State Attorney General’s office, in a memorandum, that the GAB has no jurisdiction over matters that fall under FOIA law. Kennedy and the Clerks have dismissed the warning of the AG and are holding to the “15 Directives of Obstruction”.
Here is a list of counties that expected to impose fees to count ballots or view election materials – memory cards that were sent back early. If you live in one of these counties, you may want to give your clerk a call. List of Counties requiring FEE
You can also read the list in the “Comments” Section of this post.
If citizens volunteers want to verify the Recall vote count they must seek legal help to file suit against Kennedy and the County Clerks. Should it be so difficult or outrageous for citizens to seek the truth of the vote count? When did the office of county clerk become a living barrier to public records? They are librarians of the records. Can you imagine being charge staff time for information at your local library, and then being told you cannot touch the books?
The citizen volunteers need to raise cash to pay a retainer fee for an attorney who is willing to enforce the FOIA pro bono. A $500 fee is a requirement of the firm as a retainer and will be returned, paid by the municipality that denied access, if the case is won. Below is the link where you may give what you can if you support this effort. The attorney’s name is Christa Westerberg and she is on the Freedom of Information Act Council of Wisconsin.
UPDATE The Goal has been reached. The $500 was raised in just 24 hours thanks to the individual donations of 30 people who donated between $5 and $50!
THANK YOU ALL!
Kevin Kennedy has issued 15 directives to County Clerks, many of which are clearly against the Freedom of Information Act. These directives are stifling the attempt by citizen volunteers for auditing the ballots to compare them to the machine digital total for the June 5 Recall Election.