Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ron Johnson Doesn't Think Paul Ryan's Plan Does Enough To Hurt Us

I don't want you to miss this!

Friday, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson had his first news conference since taking office, but the only report I can find is from the Journal Sentinel which provides very little direct quotes (probably because he had very little new to say). The main takeaway, Johnson thinks the budget the Republicans passed in the House, Paul Ryan's, doesn't go far enough. Big surprise!

Still, it's important that we remember these things, we have to wait five and a half years to get this joke on Wisconsin out of office. (I'm usually not so irreverent, but this guy hasn't shown any value for Wisconsin or the U.S. Senate.)

Other statements of note
  • More oil drilling in the Gulf and Alaska will fix gas prices - False.
  • More tax cuts for the profit record-breaking oil companies are good.
There is a 3-part YouTube video though

FYI, I haven't combed through the videos yet.

!! Republican politicians don't care about you. Recall the Republican 8 !!

!! Last Weekend !!

The Wisconsin Voter Suppression Bill - Assembly Bill 7

I was calling Senate Bill 6 the Voter Distraction Bill, but now the Republicans have introduced Assembly Bill 7 which goes even further. Plus, they want to pass it quickly and before any recall elections. So I find it fitting to call AB7 the Voter Suppression Bill, as many others have called SB6 and AB7. Calling it the voter ID bill isn't appropriate, because the bill won't create a "voter ID" as the name implies. Calling it the photo ID bill also isn't appropriate, because it's vague and the bill won't allow for the use of just any photo ID as that implies. If you want to call AB7 something appropriate, the Voter Suppression Bill is the most appropriate name Wisconsin has come up with.

Both SB6 and AB7 will give Wisconsin the strictest photo ID requirement in the country and reduce the number of people who can and will actually vote in our elections. Not only that, but the bills will cost Wisconsin taxpayers yearly more than the current recount will, and the problem they're trying to solve, voter fraud, has only added at most 20 improper votes in the last few years. In fact, neither bill would have prevented any one of those 20 improper votes. This bill is a fraud.

Voter fraud is nowhere near one of the significant issues in our elections. The fact that Kathy Nickolaus or nearly anyone else could easily add thousands of improper votes is the real issue that we all should be furious over. To have any influence, voter fraud requires a true conspiracy on a level the United States has not seen. However, by manipulating voting machine tallies, one person can swing a statewide election. That doesn't require a conspiracy. Wisconsin elections, and many other issues in our state, require real solutions not fake solutions such as these Voter Suppression Bills.

Some of the significant differences between SB6 and AB7 limit absentee voting. AB7 limits absentee voting to a few specific reasons. The bill also would reduce the limit of in-person absentee voting from the current 30 days to one week before an election. If there are relevant issues with absentee voting, they're not solved by limiting absentee voting to very specific reasons or reducing the amount of time people may vote.

Another significant restriction in AB7 is on the required amount of time an eligible voter must be living in Wisconsin to vote. AB7 increases that time from 10 days to 28 days before election day. This provision will clearly deny more legitimate Wisconsin citizens from having a vote, and again for no good reason. Both bills already include a restriction banning student IDs for the photo ID requirement.

AB7 also removes our ability to vote a straight party ticket. Whether you like it or not, it's a convenience that many people appreciate. Making someone work harder to vote for no good reason is un-Wisconsin.

The non-profit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law submitted testimony on AB7 that is a wonderfully succinct rebuttal of the bill and its goals.

I want to have an effective discussion about the relevant issues with our elections and possible real solutions. I'm hoping we can use this recount to bring real change and confidence to our elections. I've assembled a list of the issues we've encountered during the Supreme Court election and the recount as well as my arguments for open election systems as a solution to many issues. I will continue to add to the list as more legitimate issues come to light, and I'd like to add more solutions to the list as well. So, don't hesitate to share your concerns and ideas.

Updated: (May 2, 6:39pm) I've now read through AB7, and it's nothing more than a very expensive distraction from the real issues and will only suppress the votes of legitimate Wisconsin citizens, particularly those who already struggle to have a voice. So, I made a few edits for clarification and added some great testimony on AB7 from the non-profit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Friday, April 29, 2011

PolitiFact Wisconsin Barking Up The Wrong Tree

So, PolitiFact Wisconsin has gotten into the "recount is not warranted" mix by again writing an article that doesn't belong on such a website. You can't claim something is "Barely True" just because the person saying it doesn't cite enough convincing evidence for you.

They aren't convinced that the Kloppenburg campaign gave enough evidence of "legitimate and widespread anomalies." Did they even think to consider that the Kloppenburg campaign wouldn't necessarily release information related to possible criminal activity? If you're going to state whether something is true or not, you have to do the research.

When will we get a legitimate PolitiFact Wisconsin that includes at least one other organization?

I've assembled a list of the issues we've encountered during this election which are reasons to demand a recount and an impartial investigation. I will continue to add to the list as more legitimate issues come to light. Anyone who claims these don't warrant a recount in such a close election, or really any election, wants to keep secrets from the people of Wisconsin.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wisconsin Elections Demand Real Solutions

Over the last few weeks we've has seen how easily large amounts of our votes can be manipulated or inadvertently changed. We've seen how the one agency in charge of ensuring our elections are fair, the Government Accountability Board, is just as involved in the issues as Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. Experts agree that it doesn't take a conspiracy to swing thousands of votes, just one person. We must demand to know how our votes are counted and that they're counted accurately and securely. Even many conservatives are questioning the integrity of our system. It's time we get a real investigation and real solutions.

Instead, the Republicans are planning to rush through what can be described as a Voter Suppression Bill (AB 7) in May. It will require everyone to show only certain types of ID and reduce the number of people who can actually vote in our elections. They want to pass this before the recall elections. I really don't want to know why, because the truth is too gruesome in this case. Not only that, but the bill will cost Wisconsin taxpayers yearly more than the current recount will.

Many conservatives are furious over the cost of the recount, but they should be furious over this bill which attempts to solve a problem that has added at most 20 improper votes to the last few elections. Voter fraud is not a major issue. The fact that Kathy Nickolaus or nearly anyone else could easily add 14,000 or more improper votes is the real issue that we all should be furious over.

These are the issues that we've seen so far in this election:
  • Large discrepancies in reporting from Waukesha and Winnebago counties
  • Some of our voting equipment is antiquated and can no longer be maintained
  • The GAB wrote the software that caused the reporting error in Waukesha County, and that software isn't publicly available
  • There have now been at least five ballot bags with discrepancies: four from Waukesha County (DailyKos: 2 from Delafield and 1 from Brookfield and 1 from Genesee) and one from Dane County. Whether these are a real issue or not remains to be seen.
  • The official Waukesha County tally missed five absentee ballots - only four have been accounted for
  • There are now reports of torn ballot bags in Waukesha County.
  • Other posts on Brad Blog and DailyKos have documented other issues. (I don't have time to dig through all of those issues yet, but when I do, I'll update my list here.)
Note that the most likely reason why we know of more issues in Waukesha County is because we actually have a live stream of the recount in Waukesha County.

Our most pressing problems contributing to the above issues or their concerns:
  1. Ballot security and integrity
  2. Antiquated voting equipment
  3. Insecure and inaccurate voting equipment
  4. Voting equipment hardware design and software not owned and controlled by the people of Wisconsin
  5. The integrity of every voting machine isn't verified before and after every election
  6. Various vote-tallying processes are not open
  7. Ease and likelihood of errors in reporting
    • Voting equipment and software is not uniform across the state
    (1) Ballot security and integrity. Up until now, I thought this stuff was pretty well straightened out. So I haven't had much time to learn about the process and the potential ramifications of our current issues, but one thing is for sure, we can't get anything else right until we can be sure our paper ballots are secure. I'll post more on this as I learn more and as events unfold.

    (2) Antiquated voting equipment. It's clear that at least one approved model of our voting equipment, the Optech Eagle, is antiquated and must be removed from service. Although, I will say that I believe it's good that the issue forced a hand recount in parts of the state instead of simply re-feeding the ballots back through the same machines for a recount. This model should be replaced quickly, though the following issues may warrant some delay. A full review of all our voting equipment should occur first.

    (3) Insecure and inaccurate voting equipment. Our electronic voting equipment is insecure and inaccurate, but you're not supposed to know that. The very equipment we use to cast and count votes can be manipulated without detection in seconds, swinging the results by any number of votes. There's not a single computer or security expert that would argue with that. However, even if we all were angels, our vote-tallying machines rarely count the exact number of votes. These are inevitable consequences of using electronics to cast and count our votes. Unfortunately, the design of our electronic voting machines and their margins of error are secrets kept tightly by their manufacturers. So we have no way of knowing just how insecure and inaccurate our machines are (more on this in (4)).

    Quite near anyone with the knowledge to write moderately sophisticated computer programs can manipulate a voting machine and its vote tally in literally seconds. That's well into the tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin with that ability. Not at any other point in our country's history do so many people have such an ability to swing elections so dramatically. It really does take some time to stop and consider.

    No one has any "bullet-proof" solutions to this problem, and it's likely we never will. If we want to count votes using electronic equipment, and I for one think it's a "good thing," we must have verifiable guarantees of voting machine security and accuracy. We don't have that now, and we almost certainly won't have that until we solve (4).

    There are other issues regarding accuracy specific to the voting machines we use. A GAB memo from December 2009 shows that there were several issues with voting machines that we currently use in many parts of Wisconsin. An error message "error while printing" occurred 15% of the time during a test of the AutoMARK VAT. This was due to a malfunction in the system which required replacement, and the replacement had similar non-tallying related issues about 5% of the time. Such errors can cause inaccuracies, and they can also cause voter disenfranchisement as voters may be told to come back later or may have to wait for an excessive period of time.

    The AutoMARK VAT is used as an option for voters with disabilities in many municipalities across Wisconsin. However, the GAB memo says that the testing by the GAB and testing by the Wisconsin Election Administration Council shows that
    "The AutoMARK VAT does not provide full privacy and independence for voters with disabilities, especially voters with dexterity or motor disabilities, as voters may need assistance inserting the ballot, removing the ballot and placing the ballot in the ballot box or tabulator."
    The Wisconsin Election Administration Council had even more to say. The memo notes several issues including vision-impaired voters won't be able to verify their vote, inadvertent steps that cause a cancellation of votes, the device doesn't meet 2005 US-EAC guidelines, "it takes longer to cast a ballot with the AutoMARK than manually marking the ballot with a marking device," and screen reading difficulties. Yet the AutoMARK VAT was approved by the GAB for Wisconsin voters with disabilities. The GAB said, "The ES&S voting system technically meets" the requirement of a voter to privately verify their votes. The GAB later notes in a bordered paragraph,
    "The AutoMARK voting systems for which approval is being sought, do not change the degree of accessibility currently provided by previously approved AutoMARK systems."
    I'm appalled that so many of our voting machines do "not provide full privacy and independence for voters with disabilities," and that the GAB would approve such a machine. Are we that desperate for voting equipment?

    Another machine mentioned in the memo with issues regarding its ease of use is the intElect DS200. It may not be immediately clear that these issues are issues with accuracy. Any time a voter's intention doesn't get correctly included in the official results, the system is inaccurate. The more difficult a machine is to use, the less accurate it will be.

    Similar touch-screen machines continue to have worrisome issues in other states as well. In the midterm election this past November, a touch-screen voting machine in Pennsylvania began casting votes for the opposite candidate from the one selected by the voter, and the machine required "recalibration" to resolve. We don't use the same machine here, but the same manufacturer, ES&S. So there's good reason to suspect the same issues can and may have happened here. Luckily for us, all of our touch-screens mark or print a paper ballot, but most people expect the machines won't make a mistake. So they may not properly inspect the results before casting their vote and walking away.

    The GAB incorrectly states on their website "Adminstrative(sp) Code Chapter 5 Ballot and Electronic Voting Equipment Security insures all electronic voting systems used in Wisconsin are accurate and reliable." This is plain false, and it provides a false sense of security to those voters who aren't aware of the issues. I don't believe we will ever fully be able to insure electronic voting systems are accurate and reliable, but I believe we could publicly guarantee much higher security, accuracy and reliability if we solved issue (4).

    Wisconsin does have some of the best electronic voting machine laws in the country, but they're far from perfect. What's worse is that at any time the GAB can exempt a machine from complying with Wisconsin law. The GAB can exempt a voting machine from Wisconsin law if they choose, or as they say, "for good cause" GAB 7.03(5). I don't see how exempting a voting machine from Wisconsin law is a good idea at any time for any reason.

    (4) Voting equipment design not owned by the people of Wisconsin. When I say that the people of Wisconsin should own the designs for our voting equipment I mean that the hardware designs and the software source code should be open, i.e., in the public domain. I'll elaborate more on this in the solutions section later, but I'll briefly cover some highlights and comparisons now.

    The manufacturers of our voting machines will never provide us with the information and control we need to conduct our elections in the most fair, open and transparent way. The people who run our elections, like your county clerk, have no control or idea of what's going on inside our voting machines. (They can, but I'm not sure who's gone through the trouble s.5.905(5).) It doesn't appear as though anyone from the state government or the Wisconsin public has inspected the code or designs of these machines. We're just expected to have blind faith in these systems, but we know the manufacturers can't and/or won't solve all of their problems.

    Currently, certain portions of the software for every electronic voting machine model approved for use in Wisconsin is stored in an escrow s.5.905(2). It's unclear if every software version in use is stored in the escrow, and we have no way of knowing how much of any particular software is stored. The GAB most likely knows the exact components, but they don't make the information available on their website as they should. This escrow provision is meant to make us feel better about the insecure proprietary software, but it does little or nothing to increase the security of our voting equipment. We need all of the software components at the very least, and even that won't provide us with the security, accuracy and reliability that we could achieve with open voting equipment.

    Even if the manufacturers gave public access to the design and software of their voting machines, we won't get the full value of an open system if the hardware designs and software source code aren't in the public domain. We wouldn't necessarily be able to ensure the integrity of a voting machine simply because we have that information, because the machine itself may have certain vulnerabilities we would have very little ability to control. If all we can do is look at the designs and code, and we're not be given the ability to implement modifications, what happens if we want to make a change but the manufacturer wouldn't agree to it? That's unacceptable and completely avoidable.

    There are many advantages to creating an open election system, and I'll defer talking in detail about those for the solutions section. One of the most beneficial advantages of using an open election system is the amount of people who can inspect the design and code to ensure the utmost security and accuracy, anyone who would want to could. This doesn't make the machine less secure, because there will always be ways to "hack" a machine. Instead, vulnerabilities and issues can be spotted and resolved more quickly, including right on the spot by county clerks or other officials (through appropriate processes of course). This openness has been shown to produce highly successful software many times, e.g. Linux, Firefox and WordPress to name just a few.

    We can do better than these companies, and we must, because there's no better solution to many of our issues than using an open election system.

    (5) Integrity of voting machines not verified before and after every election. The Government Accountability board conducts periodic audits of a random selection of machines, but that won't detect a singular instance of an issue. Nor will the audits detect widespread issues that were created and manifested between audits. Even still, the GAB doesn't post the results of the audits, just the municipalities in which the audits took place. The GAB should be required to post the results of their audits. These audits are helpful, but they aren't sufficient for detecting all likely issues with our voting machines.

    The integrity of a machine can only be inspected during a recount if a candidate requests permission from the GAB, and as long as they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement s.5.905(4). This process should be automatic for every machine for every election, regardless of the closeness, because that's the only way we can have any hope to guarantee any amount of security, accuracy and reliability. Simply "matching numbers" during canvassing will not uncover many possible issues with our voting machines. So we need a process to ensure every machine is counting votes as accurately as possible during an election.

    Verifying the integrity of a voting machine after an election includes making sure that the software currently on the machine is the software that actually counted the votes. Wisconsin Statue 5.905(3) states that "the verification procedure shall include a determination that the software components correspond to the instructions actually used by the system to count votes." However, the GAB may not have enough information or there just may not be any possible way to determine if the software instructions in a particular machine were the actual instructions used to count the votes in an election. I can't find any details as to how the GAB would make such a determination. If we solve (4) this issue becomes much easier to solve.

    There are several ways to determine the accuracy of a voting machine without verifying its integrity, although the integrity is the ultimate test. Municipalities employ a simple pre-election test of running a predetermined set of votes through a machine and verifying that the counts match. It wouldn't be difficult to write software to pass the pre-election test but still manipulate the vote counts later. At the very least, this same test must be run on every machine after an election as well as before. However, without verifying the integrity of a machine or running a hand recount, there's no way to guarantee that the results from a machine match the actual votes.

    As for recounts, there's really no point to a recount if each machine isn't inspected for its integrity, because the device should give back very near the same results a second time whether the device was manipulated or not. Fortunately, there are some hand recounts occurring throughout the state, but not nearly enough to provide information beyond most glaring types of discrepancies. Since recounts are meant to try to determine the actual vote count, why don't we at least inspect every machine automatically before proceeding with a recount? Otherwise, we're just another example of the classic definition of insanity, continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results.

    (6) Various vote-tallying processes are not open. I already mentioned the issues with the closed vote-tallying processes within our voting equipment in (4). Here, I'm referring to vote-tallying process outside of our voting equipment. This GAB manual for county clerks says, "The counting of votes is always done publicly after the polls close at 8:00 p.m." (their emphasis) If the counting of votes is always done publicly, we would have found out about the Waukesha County error much sooner. So, this law is clearly not being enforced properly, and the GAB felt it necessary to emphasize publicly to officials who presumably should know that very well.

    As evidenced by my reporting on the ballot bag issues, the availability of information during this recount is scarce. Yes, there is a live stream of the Waukesha County recount, but they're not the only county in Wisconsin. And even with the live stream we can't figure out exactly how many ballot bags have discrepancies and where they're from. There's no mention of the issues with the ballot bags on the GAB website, even though at the very least the Journal Sentinel, The CapTimes and WisPolitics have reported the issues.

    Every county in Wisconsin should have a live stream, at least the counties doing hand recounts. Though, even then, few of us have time to intently watch the Waukesha County recount. So, there should be a live stream of each county with the ability to look back at previously streamed events. There would be very little cost but a huge increase in election transparency. The cost could be further reduced by using third-party sites such as YouTube.

    Any disputed ballots should be scanned and posted online for everyone in Wisconsin to see as they were in 2008 during the Minnesota recount for the U.S. Senate election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. We should see what causes errors, so that we can learn from those ballots. Also, it makes the process much more transparent with very little extra effort. In fact, some voting machines take "photos" of ballots, and those photos could be quickly cropped appropriately and posted for all to see. We have online banking, why not an "online" recount?

    (7) Ease and likelihood of errors in reporting. This was thought to only pertain to Waukesha County, but it also happened (on a slightly smaller scale) in Winnebago County. Therefore, it's probably just as likely in the rest of Wisconsin. This issue is not as serious if the previous six issues are resolved. However, until then, errors in reporting will continue to exacerbate the concerns we have.

    (8) Voting equipment and software is not uniform across Wisconsin. We should have a standard set of strict vote-tallying processes and one standard set of voting machines, i.e., at most a few touch-screen machines and one paper ballot-tallying machine. Variation creates unnecessary complexity and cost, and complexity increases the chances of an error. We could reduce a lot of the learning curve involved in voting as well as the cost to train staff, volunteers and maintain the equipment. Obviously, I believe that we should standardize around a set of open voting machines.

    We must seek real solutions to relevant issues by determining the best way to solve these issues. I for one won't be able to trust an election in Wisconsin until issues 1-6 are fixed, and I hope you feel just as worried.

    Are There Real Solutions?

    So what are some possible solutions? There's at least one very beneficial and realistic solution to many of these issues. Voting equipment whose hardware design and software is owned and controlled by the people of Wisconsin, i.e., open source, would be much more secure and instill much more voter confidence than any proprietary equipment ever could. We asked for nearly this back in 2005 via AB 627, but the bill was amended to remove the half-hearted provision before the bill was passed. Those who control our elections want desperately for it to stay that way, but it's not what's good for us. We will end up choosing this option at some point. So why not now?

    Standardizing open voting equipment across the entire state of Wisconsin would provide greater benefits over those from standardizing over proprietary equipment. The learning curve for voters would be reduced, because everyone would use the same user-friendly and accessible system. Reporting of votes would be faster and less prone to error. The cost of maintaining and approving voting equipment would be drastically reduced. Many other costs at both the state and municipality level would be reduced. We would know exactly how secure and accurate our voting equipment is. There would be no doubt, because anyone could inspect the code. That also means that more people can help improve the system. There are valid reasons against complete homogeneous standardization, but that debate is for a later time.

    I realize that I'm glossing over quite a few major details here. It's not guaranteed that the first, or even tenth..., version will be user-friendly and accessible. Over time it will no doubt improve, but by beginning with effective guidelines and true experts, the first version could easily be much more user-friendly and accessible than we've come to expect from our voting machines. This also applies to the costs of developing such a set of systems. Successful open source projects gain momentum quickly when they're driven by knowledgeable and thoughtful leaders. The more knowledgeable people who contribute to the project the less tax payers will end up having to pay. I have no doubt that such a project would create more than enough enthusiasm from capable people in Wisconsin. We can do it, other less wealthy countries have successfully done this.

    I also realize that converting to an open system can't happen overnight, but a deadline should have been set a long time ago and needs to be set now. I don't know how much it would cost the state to implement and convert to such a system, but it's clear we need to replace at the very least the unmaintainable equipment, and it's quite possible the conversion would cost less than the full cost of implementing and enforcing the Voter Suppression Bill.

    There's a very good chance we could partner with other states to share the burden of development. There would be no reason not to. These tough economic times add to the value of governments working together and sharing the software code they run on. Also, various other municipalities, states, organizations and countries have either begun or completed open source election systems that we could implement as is or modify to our desires. So, I believe converting to an open election system should be one of the top priorities in fixing our elections (if not the top priority).

    I'd like to have a discussion about the relevant issues with our elections and possible real solutions. Any other suggestions for solving some of these issues? Any other issues I'm not listing? Is there anything I could clarify? Did I increase your concern?

    Please, contact your state representatives and tell them why you're concerned with the security and accuracy of our voting equipment. They won't do anything unless we demand it.

    Updated: (April 29, 6:23am) Removed issue regarding a lack of paper trail for some machines, because the 2005 AB 627 bill was signed into law and requires a paper trail for all of our machines. I'm assuming for the moment that it covers machines that were already in service until I have more time to look into the law.

    Update: (April 29, 5:31pm) I'm compiling a lot more information, including possible new discrepancies, and will be providing an update yet tonight.

    Update: (April 30, 6:51am) Well it took a lot longer than I had hoped, but I finished the update. I was kindly shown by a few people how I wasn't clear on a few points, and with new information, I added a lot more to the post, clarifying and expanding upon my points. The post is quite a bit longer now, but I think it's necessary to be as clear as possible. I'll continue to work to make this post as clear and factual as possible, as well as including new issues if more come to light.

    (Btw, this image in the right sidebar is now linked to this post.)

    Update: (May 4, 5:38pm) Added information about torn ballot bags in Waukesha County from Giles Goat Boy.

    Wisconsin Republicans Planning To Strip Collective Bargaining Rights In Budget

    According to The CapTimes, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans still haven't learned their lesson, even though at least six Republicans who voted to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers will likely face a recall election for doing so (Republicans will likely do the same to at most three Democrats). They're planning to add the bill to the budget if they don't get their way through the courts. In fact, Tuesday, Republicans voted against another collective bargaining measure that would have restored those rights for some employees. On top of everything, the bill itself may be unconstitutional.

    Republicans, why do you insist on stripping these rights away? What is the purpose, because we know and you admitted stripping those rights doesn't save any money?

    Republican politicians don't care about you. Recall the Republican 8.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Why Are Prosser Supporters Still Complaining About Recount

    According to the Journal Sentinel, the Club for Growth has issued a statement against the recount for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Election. They say the Kloppenburg campaign wants "to invent reasons why Kloppenburg should be awarded thousands of phantom votes no one’s heard of yet; and to get in front of a judge willing to buy their arguments. Since a Dane County judge will likely decide, expecting this to work may not be stupid at all." They also posit if Kloppenburg can "steal a win."

    It's as if they're trying to get ahead of some news they expect. The only reason to be against this recount is to prevent us from learning more. I find it really odd that only a few weeks ago, Prosser's campaign rightly said they were open to a recount. Nothing changed publicly since then. This all makes me quite confident that if anyone is trying to "steal this election" it's the Prosser campaign.

    According to WisPolitics, there's already been two new discrepancies in Waukesha County. Wisconsin needs this recount, not just because of Kathy Nickolaus's suspicious behavior, not just because of the GAB's involvement in the Waukesha County error, not just because of other issues in the state, but also because Wisconsin hasn't seen a statewide recount in decades. Hopefully, a full investigation of our voting systems (if our leaders give us one) and a recount will give us some confidence.

    You can watch a live stream of the recount in Waukesha County here.

    Update: (April 29, 4:26pm) So, PolitiFact Wisconsin has gotten into the mix, again writing an article that doesn't belong on such a website. You can't claim something is "Barely True" just because the person saying it doesn't cite enough convincing evidence for you. Did they even think to consider that the Kloppenburg campaign wouldn't necessarily release information related to possible criminal activity? If you're going to state whether something is true or not, you have to do the research. When will we get a legitimate PolitiFact Wisconsin that includes at least one other organization?

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Wisconsin Republicans Still Vote Against Collective Bargaining Rights

    Even though everyone admits, including Governor Scott Walker, that stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin's public workers doesn't save money, Republicans are still voting against collective bargaining rights. According to the WisPolitics budget blog, a motion to restore "collective bargaining rights for the Wisconsin State Public Defender Association, the Association of State Prosecutors and the Wisconsin State Attorneys Association" failed today on a party-line vote.

    We still haven't been told the real reason why Republicans voted to strip collective bargaining rights from our public workers.

    At least six Republicans will be recalled this summer, quite possibly more, but they still haven't learned their lesson. We're the overwhelming majority, and we deserve respect!

    Republican politicians don't care about you. Recall the Republican 8

    Seven Wisconsin Republican Senators Likely Recalled

    The Post Crescent reports that organizers for the recall of Senator Robert Cowles will file on Thursday more than enough signatures to trigger a recall election. That makes Cowles the sixth Republican senator to likely face a recall election.

    A DailyKos diary reports a Facebook announcement by the organizers for the recall of Senator Glenn Grothman for a post-canvass celebration. This may indicate they have enough signatures to file the recall petition, but that's the only info I've been able to find. As of April 27th, the organizers are not ready to file a recall petition and are still collecting signatures, see here for ways to help.

    Last week, petitions were filed for the recall of Republican Senators Olsen, Harsdorf and Darling. The recall petitions for Republican Senators Kapanke and Hopper were filed a couple weeks before. So even without Grothman, Wisconsin has filed petitions to recall six of its Republican senators. This unprecedented momentum shows just how strongly Wisconsin feels about workers' rights.

    The Koch brothers and the Republicans actually began recalling eight Democrat senators before the Democrats started recalling the Republican 8. However, they've only been able to collect enough signatures to file recall petitions for three Democrats. In fact, the Republicans have to submit their signatures for seven of their eight recall efforts by 5pm today (some of the petitions had to be or were filed earlier). So, it looks like the Koch brothers and the Republicans will be able to recall at most three Democrats.

    The Wisconsin Democrats are calling into question the means for which the signatures were collected. Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Mike Tate said that he guarantees "there will be fraudulent signatures turned in." So, there may be significant challenges to the three recalls of Democrat senators, but I haven't seen any new information since last week Thursday. dane101 has some more details including photos of an "Out To Lunch" sign and other evidence of unattended petitions.

    Tate also said that the signatures to recall the Republican 8 were almost entirely collected by volunteers with paid organizers there to oversee while Republicans hired out-of-state workers to collect signatures. The magnitude of Wisconsinites who support democracy and workers' rights is becoming very clear. Keep up the good fight!

    You can thank the thousands of people who have helped recall the Republican 8 here.

    I love this ad!

    The quickest most effective way Wisconsin can move Forward is to recall all of the Republican 8, but we only have until May 2nd (Sunday, May 1st really). So the two remaining efforts can use any and all help they can get
    We don't have much time. So, please start thinking about making plans to spend just a few hours this weekend in one of these two districts if you're not available to help during the week. Just by talking to people about the issues will help keep the momentum going.

    Wisconsin needs you.

    Updated: (April 27, 2:25pm) I updated the status on the recall effort for Senator Glenn Grothman, because the organizers have NOT collected enough signatures yet. See here for information on ways you can help these last two efforts.

    Wisconsin GAB Wrote Erroneous Software For Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus

    Milwaukee News Buzz reports that the computer program that caused Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus to erroneously report vote counts for the Wisconsin Supreme Court election was written by the Government Accountability Board. This fact alone puts into question the impartiality of the investigation into Waukesha County's election issues by the GAB. They can't properly investigate their own software.

    Not only was the GAB program written poorly, but the GAB has refused to provide details on the computer program. The GAB cannot be expected to impartially investigate Waukesha County and its election systems. The GAB should publicly post the source code for the software, since Wisconsin owns it, but they won't even tell us more than Nickolaus has. It's clear that the GAB should not be in charge of investigating elections, and their refusal to provide further details is particularly concerning.

    I'm out of new ideas as to how we can get an impartial investigation. One Wisconsin Now is still collecting names for their petition for a separate bipartisan investigation. However, contacting your government representatives and the press will probably be most effective.

    People better start talking because Wisconsin is sick of the secrets in what are supposedly open and transparent elections!

    Save the UW and the Wisconsin Idea

    Walker and special interests are pushing hard to split UW-Madison off from the rest of the UW System in a plan called the New Badger Partnership. The argument, UW-Madison needs the flexibility to deal with Walker's budget cuts and rising costs. However, the New Badger Partnership creates a false dichotomy. UW-Madison does not need public authority status to gain the flexibilities it needs. Welcome the Wisconsin Idea Partnership, which keeps the UW System and the Wisconsin Idea in tact while giving the needed flexibilities to all of Wisconsin's universities.

    UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has responded to the Wisconsin Idea Partnership by saying it doesn't give UW-Madison enough flexibility. My response to Martin, which I emailed to her, is work with the rest of the UW System to strengthen the Wisconsin Idea Partnership so that it provides the needed flexibilities. The Wisconsin Idea Partnership may not be perfect right now, but it points us in the right direction. There's no reason the needed flexibilities can't be added to the Wisconsin Idea Partnership without creating a public authority and splitting off UW-Madison.

    The Wisconsin Wave is organizing a rally Tuesday at Bascom Hall from 1pm-2:30pm to protest the New Badger Partnership. As an alumnus of UW-Madison and UW-Fox Valley, this debate is very important to me. However, the New Badger Partnership will affect everyone in Wisconsin by weakening the UW System and duplicating efforts which means we get less for our tax dollar. So I'll be at the rally, and I hope you come too.

    You can find lots of useful information on the New Badger Partnership and the Wisconsin Idea Partnership here, far more information than can be found on the New Badger Partnership site.

    Congressman Sean Duffy Loses Cool and Disrespects His Constituents

    U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy, the former MTV Real World star from Wisconsin, held a town hall last week Tuesday, April 19 in Shell Lake to promote Paul Ryan's radical budget proposal. Democurmudgeon and others have posted videos from the town hall, but I wanted to highlight one unbelievable event. At the end of this video Duffy scolds a constituent, "Let me tell you. When you have your town hall, you can stand up and give your presentation."

    The constituent was polite and asked a very relevant question about what Duffy is doing to prevent fraud and abuse in Medicare. Duffy has no excuse for such a response.

    Republican politicians don't care about you. Recall the Republican 8.

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Recall the Republican 8! - Final Week

    I visited my family for Easter this weekend in Senator Cowles's district, and I was fortunate enough to catch an ad called "Recall the Republicans." I absolutely love this ad!

    We've already submitted more than enough signatures to recall five of the Republican 8 senators, which is incredible, but the Koch brothers and the Republicans have submitted enough signatures to recall three Democrats. We've sent a strong message to Walker and the Republicans, but we need to recall all of the Republican 8 to have a shot at retaking the Wisconsin Senate for the people. Because we've already seen the Republicans don't care about us.

    We figure that Walker and the Republicans are planning to introduce financial martial law legislation similar to Michigan's. We could easily stop such a law if the Republicans don't have a majority in the Senate. Not only that, we could start introducing and debating real solutions instead of false solutions such as the collective bargaining bill and the voter distraction (suppression) bill. We'd also have a much better chance of preventing many calamities in Walker's budget proposal.

    The quickest most effective way Wisconsin can move Forward is to recall all of the Republican 8, but we only have until May 2nd (Sunday, May 1st really). So the remaining three efforts can use any and all help they can get
    We don't have much time, but I know that many people are working hard to recall Senator Robert Cowles, who still tells the lie that the collective bargaining bill saves money. In fact, my parents, who have already signed the recall petition for Cowles, were visited today by a volunteer. Please start thinking about making plans to spend just a few hours this weekend in one of these districts if you're not available to help during the week.

    Wisconsin needs you.

    Republican Politicians Want You To Pay More

    If you're net worth is over a million dollars, this post is not for you.

    We have a clear and strong argument against our Republican politicians, which is supported by their actions. Republican politicians care more about wealthy individuals and corporations than most Wisconsinites. We are the overwhelming majority, and it's time our legislators focus on our problems.

    • Collective bargaining bill
      • Strip away workers' rights and forcibly reduce benefits. If corporations ask for the same "flexibility," will the Republicans decline?
    • Walker budget proposal
      • Significant cuts to most if not all vital public services. Tax breaks for corporations.
    • Extension of Bush tax cuts for the very rich
      • Obama agreed to this only to preserve the tax cuts for everyone else. Otherwise, the Republicans would have been happy to increase all of our taxes.
    • Republican (Paul Ryan) budget
      • Significant cuts to many vital public services including eliminating Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. Significant tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations.
      • All but 4 Republican House Representatives voted for this proposal
    The result is that all of us end up retaining less money, while the wealthy get wealthier.

    This argument is simple, effective and more than barely true. This should be the argument that we reach for first. Republican politicians care more about wealthy individuals and corporations than you.

    Corporations have already been bailed out and given huge tax cuts, and the stock market is up over 50% since April 2009. So we know most of them are doing quite well. Yet they're still not creating any significant amount of jobs. More tax cuts aren't going to convince them much more. In fact, I'd argue that we need to stop babying the corporations so they start creating jobs. Corporations used to pay a much larger share of taxes, and they flourished. Since they won't hire from increased profits by tax cuts, remove the tax cuts and force them to increase profits through hiring, or simply get them to hire out of fear that we'll remove the tax cuts. The CEOs could easily afford a pay-cut if it came to that (maybe a temporary CEO salary cap).

    I dare anyone to prove me wrong.

    We need to fight for our respect, and the most effective way to do that now is to help recall the Republican 8 before the May 2nd deadline (one week from today)!

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    PolitiFact Wisconsin: One Big Pile of Dog...

    These guys couldn't be unbiased if their lives depended upon it. Just look at this article as evidence. A lengthy article was written to simply throw unrelated and unsupported criticism at the Wisconsin Democrats as well as create more confusion. Their argument, that a press release was false when it described Senator Hopper as "recalled" because he hasn't yet officially been recalled.

    Ok, so the press release could have been more clear. Enough signatures have been submitted to the GAB to request a recall election, but the GAB is still in the process of reviewing the signatures. However, the term "recalled" was used shorthand in the press release to describe Senator Hopper's current situation. The intent of the press release was not to state that Senator Hopper had been recalled. The Democrats were only using the term to describe Hopper's current situation while stating other new information.

    PolitiFact Wisconsin points out the term recalled "suggests an official who is being brought back to stand before the people." By my interpretation, the press release is correct. More than enough signatures have been submitted to bring Hopper back to stand before the people. The GAB just hasn't made it official yet, but I highly doubt Hopper's recall will not be certified by the GAB. Maybe if there was a challenge to the recall there would be reason to doubt it, but there isn't.

    I again admit that the press release could have been more clear, but I don't think the intent of the press release was to mislead or to create more confusion.

    The PolitiFact article also includes a quote from Hopper's campaign manager, saying that if Hopper wins the recall election "that means he was never recalled." Using the above definition, that statement is patently false. Only if the GAB doesn't certify enough signatures for Hopper's recall election will Hopper never be recalled. Yet, PolitiFact makes no attempt to question the statement.

    Calling the statement "Recalled Randy Hopper" "False" is misleading if not flat wrong, and it truly was a waste of their time to write the article and for me to read it.

    How does one biased newspaper become the only "true" source of facts in our debates?

    Update: (9:02am) It's ridiculous that they offer no way to comment on a PolitiFact article when you can comment on any other Journal Sentinel article. No one can directly refute their claims.

    This is another example of a PolitiFact Wisconsin article that shouldn't be posted on a "fact" website. You can't claim a statement is "Barely True" simply because someone doesn't cite enough convincing evidence. If you're going to write an article and state whether something is true or not, you're expected to do the research.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote - Very Informative Documentary on Real Election System Issues

    This week I learned of a very relevant, informative and entertaining documentary from 2008 that highlights many of the prominent issues with our modern election systems. I wanted to watch it before recommending it, but now that I have, I highly recommend this film, especially during this time when our knowledge can make a real difference. It's free to watch online. So why not make plans to watch the movie during the ugly weather this weekend, or watch it now. From the film, "It's time to wake up. What you stand to lose is everything."

    The film has extraordinary reviews from many.

    Some of the issues the documentary discusses are:
    • Long lines
    • Reporting irregularities
    • Laws that are used to "rig elections"
    • Silence of mainstream media on issues, leaving bloggers digging for information
    • Voter disenfranchisement
    But the documentary mainly focuses on issues with computer election systems. Most counties in Wisconsin have computers that, at a minimum, count our votes.

    Some of the unresolved issues with computer election systems discussed:
    • Errors inherit in computers and software, vote totals will nearly never match the true count exactly 
    • Vote switching
    • Secrecy by system producers
    • Ease of changing vote counts without detection
    • How computers make changing large amounts of votes much easier than changing large amounts of paper ballots
    One of the key points I liked in the film came from a computer professional who works with banks and noted that we have much higher standards for software in banks than we do for the software that counts our votes.

    The film then discusses many of the various anomalies with elections in the last decade and the need for hand recounts and paper trails. I believe that by law in Wisconsin all of our machines require a paper trail, but I'm not sure that the Optech Eagle (the machines that we lack memory for) does.

    Election officials and computer security professionals are some of the experts whose testimony (some under oath) is included in the film.

    There's clips from The Daily Show, and even a clip from Keith Olbermann. So progressives should find Stealing America even more entertaining.

    The film contains some speculation, particularly with regard to the 2004 election, but the issues are real. The reason the speculation continues is because we don't get our relevant questions answered and the issues persist.

    Here's the trailer:

    Don't stop there. You can watch the film in its entirety for free at

    The more we know now, the better chance we have of actually fixing these issues for future elections. Some of these issues won't apply to us or everyone in Wisconsin, but most of them do.

    I want to thank the film's producer Dorothy Fadiman for putting together such an informative documentary, making it available for free, and bringing it to my attention.

    A world-renowned security expert, Bruce Schneier, has also written quite extensively on the issues with computer election systems. If you want more information, you will find his essays and op-eds on the subject very informative.

    Will Scott Walker Request An Investigation Into "Shots for Signatures" Scandal?

    One Wisconsin Now issued a press release Friday asking Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to call for an investigation into the "Shots for Signatures" scandal. I think they have a very valid point, and so here is the press release verbatim.
    Will Scott Walker File Complaint With District Attorney over Recall 'Shots for Signatures' Like He Did in 2000?

    After Leading Republican Prosecution Efforts Then, Walker Silent on 'Shots for Signatures'

    Gov. Scott Walker, who filed the complaint with the Milwaukee County District Attorney in 2000 over charges cigarettes were provided to a handful of potential voters, has remained uncharacteristically silent on evidence released this week that people were being promised liquor to sign recall signatures against a Democratic State Senator.

    "In 2000, Scott Walker personally filed the complaint with the Milwaukee County district attorney calling for an investigation into what he called bribery, but 'shots for signatures' appears to be fine with him now," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "When will Gov. Walker file a complaint with the District Attorney?"

    Walker's unwillingness to comment on the recall signature allegations contradicts his unequivocal statements in 2000, including:
    • "Let me qualify that since we brought the original episode of the cigarettes-for-votes issues to the attention of the district attorney's office on Monday, they have been aggressive in seeking to follow up on that..." [Walker Press Conference, 11/10/00]
    • "Even aside from the law itself, I just think most people on a gut check level would say that's wrong. One has to question if they were going to be voting anyway, one has to question why would the campaign, the Gore campaign, be giving anything out, other than a ride to vote." [Then-State Rep. Scott Walker, WISN-TV, 11/6/00]
    • "Anything that gets something of value, be it a $20 bill on the street out here, or a pack of cigarettes, we think is wrong....The trading off of anything, something of worth, in exchange for someone's vote -- not only is it ethically questionable, we believe it's a violation of the law." [Walker, WISN-TV 11/5/00]
    Allegations of numerous improprieties surrounding recall efforts against Sens. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Jim Holperin (D-Conover) and Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) were leveled yesterday, including an out-of-state felon collecting recall signatures, citizens being deceived about the intent of the documents they were signing and charges that signatures were being traded for shots of alcohol.

    "We know Gov. Walker was hoping David Koch would dump his money into saving the state Senate for his Republican allies," said Ross. "But that should not stop Gov. Walker from calling for investigation and prosecution as his did in 2000."

    Update: (2:33pm) Just in case you're looking, here's Scott Walker's email address:

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Five Republican 8 Senators To Face Recall Election - Many Recall Efforts Questioned

    Organizers for the recall of Wisconsin State Senator Alberta Darling filed their overwhelming collection of signatures today according to the AP. The announcement was hinted at on Tuesday by Ed Schultz on his MSNBC show, The Ed Show, and Uppity Wisconsin spotted the organizers' announcement last evening.

    Before this week, petitions were already filed to hold a recall election for two of the eight Republican senators. Senator Dan Kapanke was the first senator whose district gathered enough signatures to trigger a recall, and Senator Randy Hopper was the second. With the announcements from Monday and the filings Tuesday from the recall campaigns for Senators Luther Olsen and Sheila Harsdorf, half of the Republican 8 senators will face a recall election. Now, five of the Republican 8 senators will face a recall election, and that means there's a good chance the Democrats can retake the majority of the Senate. However, that does depend upon the success of any recall attempts by the Republicans.

    The Republican 8 are being recalled for outright lying to Wisconsin and voting to strip collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin workers. Two senators facing a recall election with just over half the allotted time to get signatures was quite amazing. Now, just two weeks since filing a petition for Randy Hopper's recall, it's unbelievable that three more senators have been added to the list. It shows just how strongly Wisconsin feels about workers' rights.

    The effort to collect enough signatures for Senator Robert Cowles is thought to be not far behind, though it's difficult to tell as I've been saying this for a while now.

    In the same time, the Koch brothers and Republicans have been trying to recall eight Democrats. According to the AP article, three of the efforts have resulted in enough signatures to file petitions with the Government Accountability Board. However, as I spotted earlier, the Wisconsin Democrats are calling into question the means for which the signatures were collected. Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Mike Tate said that he guarantees "there will be fraudulent signatures turned in." There's also this article from Slate. From a TPM article,
    "On a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning, state Dem chair Mike Tate and attorney Jeremy Levinson predicted that they would able to successfully challenge the validity of much of the signature-gathering effort by Republicans -- which Tate repeatedly called a "racket."

    [Tate said,] "In the coming days, you will see affidavits from citizens in these targeted districts who were deceived into signing petitions by the Republican roadies who often refused to identify themselves by their real names."

    "In addition, Tate said that the Dems had stories on hand of people being misled into signing: "We've had people lying saying this is in support of [Democratic state Sen.] Dave Hansen, not to recall Dave Hansen. There are going to be examples of these mercenaries who are paid to collect as many signatures as possible, not valid signatures."

    "Also, Levinson said that Democrats would not even necessarily have to scrutinize all the individual signatures, looking for ones to disqualify. "We know as fact that they have had people circulating signatures who are legally prohibited from doing so. Those signatures should all be tossed," said Levinson, also adding: "To circulate a petition, you either need to be a qualified elector [voter] in wisconsin or eligible to be a qualified elector in Wisconsin."

    "In particular, Tate said that the Republicans brought in paid signature gatherers from out of state, who were paid on a per-signature basis, and that some of these gatherers had criminal records."
    On the other hand, as Tate stated, signatures to recall the Republican 8 were almost entirely collected by volunteers with paid organizers there to oversee. The magnitude of Wisconsinites who support democracy and workers' rights is becoming very clear. Keep up the good fight!

    The remaining efforts to get signatures for the Republican 8 are for:
    Even though the recall campaigns have been going extraordinarily well, these remaining efforts need all the help they can get because the deadline to collect signatures is quickly approaching - May 2nd.

    I should mention that Republican Senator Dan Kapanke also believes he has a case against his recall, because he feels sufficient paper work wasn't filed. I'm not sure how much legal weight there is behind his argument. He filed a challenge on April, 15th and the organizers filed a rebuttal Tuesday saying the claims were "insubstantial potshots." The deadline for Kapanke to respond is today, but I can't find any news regarding his response. So it's likely he's given up.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates Agree To Hand Recount in 31 Counties

    As I reported earlier, 31 Wisconsin counties don't have enough memory to run an electronic recount while preserving the data from the original count. The Government Accountability Board did in fact request permission to delete the data, which bewilders me. However, the candidates agreed in court to a hand recount in those 31 counties in order to preserve the vital original data. Only the parts of those counties that lack enough memory will undergo a hand recount.

    The voting equipment in question is the Optech Eagle, and the needed memory cartridges are no longer manufactured. In the private sector, we get contracts that specify how long hardware will be manufactured, and we don't select hardware that can't be maintained for the desired length of time. The military also requires strict hardware contracts, stricter in most cases. So, it's not unusual to demand memory for the expected life of a machine, it's required in many situations. We definitely have some serious issues with our computer election systems in Wisconsin.

    The Government Accountability Board lists very little information about our computer election systems on their website, but there doesn't appear to be any information on the Optech Eagle beyond which municipalities use it.

    The candidates were right in agreeing to a hand recount, just as Kloppenburg was right for requesting a recount.

    Kloppenburg Was Right To Request A Recount

    Kloppenburg was right to request a recount. I don't know who wouldn't request a recount in such a close election. Wisconsin State law provides for a "free" recount when the result is this close. There's even a level in between "free" and having to fully finance a recount. Also, past elections do not necessarily predict future results. Just because most recounts in previous elections haven't changed the winner, it doesn't mean that there's any less of a chance of a recount unveiling a different winner. Mathematically, there's a much higher likelihood of the recount showing that Kloppenburg truly won than you winning the jackpot from that lottery ticket you bought earlier today.

    However, as I've stated before, closeness shouldn't be the only reason to request a recount. There are many reasons that a reasonable person might think the official vote counts using tallies from the election computers are incorrect, because there are many ways for that to happen and the election computers in Waukesha County are extremely suspect. To my knowledge, the GAB didn't fully inspect their integrity - an example of the very little clarity in this situation. I'm not going to enumerate here all of the various questions and ways vote counts could be changed, because I've already posted more than enough times, and so have many other people. Kloppenburg shouldn't have been expected to make a decision to recount without more clarification about what happened in that county, and there are many reasons to think that a recount will uncover serious discrepancies in at least Waukesha County.

    Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus could have prevented a lot of criticism by simply telling the public about the error when she verified it occurred. It only hurt her by waiting, and I still can't understand why she did. Even still, Nickolaus had nearly two weeks to address the questions regarding her explanation, but she didn't once. Not only could Nickolaus have prevented criticism by offering further explanation, she may very well have prevented a recount by doing so. However, that isn't to say there aren't or may not be significant issues in other counties, but the lack of clarity in Waukesha and her refusal to offer any further details magnified the concerns that something could have happened there as well as other counties.

    Republicans bring up issues with elections all of the time. Although they tend to focus on voter fraud. Voter fraud is easier to detect than computer errors and manipulations, but voter fraud hasn't been shown to be a factor. Republicans should be just as suspicious of what may have happened in Waukesha County and around the state, because any deliberate actions or incidental errors that change the count could easily be repeated in a Democratic controlled county unless we determine exactly what happened and put prevention measures in place. And who's to say something didn't happen in a Democratic controlled county? I argue that it's out of ignorance or selfishness that a Republican would deny there are real issues that require impartial investigation and a recount, because they yell so loudly about much smaller election issues.

    Waukesha County was just one example of how computer errors can skew elections, and we don't even know exactly what happened there. People who say this recount is unwarranted and point to Waukesha County saying it's resolved are wrong, and you can tell by their weak statements. We don't know for sure the vote counts from any count match the actual vote counts. Nothing has been resolved in Waukesha County, and the Government Accountability Board (who may be suspect in this as well) is still not finished with their investigation.

    In Kloppenburg's announcement of her request for a recount, she listed several other reasons to suspect that the official vote counts from other counties don't match the actual counts. From long lines to photo-copied ballots, we'll be given more details about these issues in the coming days. We must carefully examine the issues in all counties, because we want to ensure the integrity of our elections.

    With the closeness of this election, the relevance of these anomalies increases. Every vote counts, but in wide elections, a few thousand votes don't change the outcome. They do in this election. We'd like to think anomalies always matter, and I argue they do, but people are reluctant to spend money to look into them unless they could potentially change the outcome. Since Kloppenburg requested a recount, we have a chance to determine what the issues are and hopefully fix them in future elections. This is how the recount can benefit the entire state of Wisconsin.

    We need to know our elections are fair, accurate and secure, and the only way to determine that in this election is to do a statewide recount and investigate at the very least Waukesha County's system and processes. We need some clarity, we must ensure our elections are in fact fair, accurate and secure. Don't you want to be sure of that?

    If Prosser is shown to be the true winner, I will be one of the first to congratulate him and his supporters. However, right now there's absolutely no proof that Prosser is the winner.

    Update: (12:26pm) I just saw this at WisPolitics, and I didn't think to consider the recount wouldn't be a hand recount. At the very least, we need to inspect the way election computers are inspected and verified, but the only way we can know the true vote count is to do a hand count. There's no way around that fact.

    Update: (3:32pm) Other people have noted that this recount will likely cost Kloppenburg a lot of money. However, she can accept donations for the recount to ensure the integrity of Wisconsin's elections on her website

    Update: (4:10pm) The candidates have agreed to a hand recount in the 31 counties that didn't have the memory to run an electronic recount. This will go a long way in helping to ensure the vote-counting machines are accurate. Proving an electronic vote-counting machine can be inaccurate or potentially compromised is not difficult. If there are other suspicions, we must make them heard now.

    Walker May Really Be Planning Wisconsin Financial Stress Test Legislation

    Rick Ungar from Forbes, who has previously reported on the possibility of Walker and the Republicans introducing financial stress test legislation similar to the law in Michigan, has written a new article on the topic called "What Is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Not Telling Us About Financial Stress Test Legislation?" I'm really not on a hunt for "dirt." I refrained from posting anything on this until now. Because I wasn't sure how much there was behind the discussions on the topic, I didn't want to add nothing to what others had already done well covering.

    One of the new revelations is that Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald allegedly discussed speculation on who leaked the information. If that allegation is true, it means the Republicans have been planning to introduce a financial stress test similar to the law in Michigan. There are other revelations as well, and I suggest reading the article for yourself.

    Ed Garvey has also written on the topic on his blog Fighting Bob.

    Walker needs to be asked directly what he thinks of such a law and whether he would veto such a law. That should hopefully stop this in its tracks.

    "Really Important" Conference Call Regarding "Outright Fraud" In Wisconsin Recall Efforts At 9:30am

    As I first mentioned here, Wednesday evening on MSNBC's The Ed Show, Ed Schultz interviewed Adam Green from the Progressive Change Committee. Green said there will be a "really important conference call" Thursday morning at 9:30am from Mike Tate, head of the Wisconsin Democrats, regarding the Republicans' efforts to collect recall signatures for Democrats. He said that Tate will be alleging "outright fraud."

    Green said they will be talking about some "very serious charges," and "in some cases illegal practices that the Republicans are using as they try to whip across the finish line with a lack of grassroot support that they're making up for by cutting corners."

    Green hinted that the allegations span from convicted felons trying to collect signatures to outright fraud. In one case, Green said collectors tried to trick voters into signing by first saying things such as "Do you support Senator Dave Hansen?" and then saying "Sign here to see him on the ballot." Green added, "Lots of reports across the state have been coming in."

    I haven't been able to find an announcement anywhere else yet, but based on Green's statements, I would expect to hear something soon.

    Also, if you missed this, the Government Accountability Board is planning to request permission for counties to violate Wisconsin law by deleting the information contained on voting machines during a recount. That information would be very useful in determining what happened, and if serious discrepancies are found we must have the information. If the companies supplying our election systems cannot provide us with sufficient memory, we must seriously reconsider who we do business with.

    Update: (10:08am) This was actually posted last night on Democurmudgeon. The only additional information I've seen is this earlier article at the Huffington Post and a single tweet by the State Journal saying, "Wis Dems accuse those gathering recall signatures against Dem senators of sloppy, shady practices & say they will submit complaints to GAB." There may not be "illegal practices" as Adam Green hinted at, but we shall see.

    Update: (1:48pm) Finally, someone with knowledge of the conference call has written something about it! Here's a TPM article. I'm reading it over now and will post more shortly. Tate said, "I guarantee to the reporters on this call, there will be fraudulent signatures turned in."

    Update: (1:55pm) There's a lot of issues that Mike Tate mentioned in the conference call, and a lot more information will be coming. From the TPM article,
    "On a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning, state Dem chair Mike Tate and attorney Jeremy Levinson predicted that they would able to successfully challenge the validity of much of the signature-gathering effort by Republicans -- which Tate repeatedly called a "racket."

    In particular, Tate said that the Republicans brought in paid signature gatherers from out of state, who were paid on a per-signature basis, and that some of these gatherers had criminal records."

    Also, Levinson said that Democrats would not even necessarily have to scrutinize all the individual signatures, looking for ones to disqualify. "We know as fact that they have had people circulating signatures who are legally prohibited from doing so. Those signatures should all be tossed," said Levinson, also adding: "To circulate a petition, you either need to be a qualified elector [voter] in wisconsin or eligible to be a qualified elector in Wisconsin."
     Update: (April 22, 2:10am) I haven't been able to find much more information at this point. Here's a Slate article by David Weigel with a little bit more detail.

    "Wisconsin Is Just The Beginning"

    Wisconsin's been all over the national news, whether it's the recalls of the Republican 8, the controversial Supreme Court election, or Paul Ryan's budget plan. I think all of this focus on Wisconsin is helping us move Forward past the ridiculous plans of Scott Walker and the Republicans, and it's also helping to spread Wisconsin values across the nation. Some of these national news shows have been doing great reporting on Wisconsin, and I'd like to share with you some very interesting and informative reports from Wednesday evening.

    The Rachel Maddow Show ran two segments on Wisconsin. In the first, Rachel discussed the latest news on the Supreme Court election and summarized its ramifications. She ended the segment saying, "the Democrats in that state are turning political outrage in their state into political outcomes in their state."

    In the second segment, Rachel discussed how the momentum in Wisconsin is gaining and spreading beyond our borders. Rachel showed a very informative map of Wisconsin indicating all of the counties that voted more for Kloppenburg than they did for Walker just a few months ago. There was very little momentum gained by the Republican-backed Prosser, and almost every county in Wisconsin voted more for Kloppenburg than they had for Walker. In fact, the districts that swung against Walker include all of the districts of the four Republican 8 expecting a recall election. This is significant, but elections and particularly a small election like this one are not good indicators of overall state mood.

    Rachel's interviewee, Dante Chinni from Patchwork Nation, said Wisconsin contains many "service worker centers." Chinni defines these places as having lots of good jobs in the public sector with fewer in the private. He said he thinks the momentum is coming from the attacks on those jobs by politicians, particularly collective bargaining. Chinni said, "Wisconsin is just the beginning." They called it the "Wisconsin Effect" and said that Republicans are very afraid. In Wisconsin, we've been calling the "Wisconsin Effect" the Wisconsin Wave.

    Later, Ed Schultz showed the most footage from Paul Ryan's town hall on his The Ed Show on MSNBC. Ed shows a very great question from a resident, Ryan's response and the reaction from the crowd. Ryan got "smacked down" by the residents for giving tax cuts to the rich while asking others to pay more.

    Ed interviewed the person from ThinkProgress who shot the video, Scott Keyes. Keyes gave a very informative account of Ryan's town halls. Laura Flanders said, "It's the super rich against everyone else," and Ed noted that it appeared Ryan supporters were at the meeting trying to tell him he's wrong. Keyes agreed and said he saw "a lot of anxiety there in the crowds." Later, Flanders said, "The seniors are not buying what Ryan is selling."

    Then, in another segment, Ed continued his coverage of politics in Wisconsin. Ed said, "I'm not gonna get off of this story because I think fundamentally this is one of the biggest stories in America. This is change. This is change you can believe in."

    Ed attacked Walker's statements that the recalls are being driven by Madison, and then interviewed Adam Green of the Progressive Change Committee. They discussed the recalls, the process, and possible ramifications. Then Green said there will be a really important conference call Thursday at 9:30am from Mike Tate, head of the Wisconsin Democrats, regarding the Republicans' efforts to collect recall signatures for Democrats. He said that Tate will be alleging "outright fraud."

    It sounds like this conference at 9:30am will be interesting. I was wondering why the Republicans were holding off on their announcement, waiting until enough signatures were collected for three Democrats. Just didn't seem politically intelligent. Now it sounds like they may have been holding back because of nefarious actions.

    GAB To Request Permission To Delete Voting Machine Memory Before Recount

    According to the Journal Sentinel, the Government Accountability Board "will file paperwork Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court to seek permission to clear the memory devices on some voting machines," destroying evidence from the original Wisconsin Supreme Court election results. They state 31 counties need to clear their devices "so ballots can be run through them again for the recount." The GAB must ask the court for permission, because Wisconsin law says that the devices cannot be cleared during a recount.

    This appears to be true given this memo from the GAB on April 14th,
    "We are receiving information from some county clerks who use [PROM] packs with tabulating equipment for their voting systems, and they report that they are unable to get sufficient additional [PROM] packs from their respective vendors to conduct the recount, while at the same time preserving and retaining intact the Election Day prom packs.

    ...This may mean getting judicial permission to clear memory devices for reuse during the recount"
    This is absolutely unacceptable, and it's just another example of a real issue with our election systems in Wisconsin.

    Update: (4:07pm) The candidates have agreed to a hand recount in these 31 counties. No erasing will be done. Thank God!

    Update: (5:28pm) I posted more information here.