Thursday, April 14, 2011

You Can Help Fix Waukesha County, Here Are Some Ways

Update: (9:55am) The Wisconsin Democrats just announced they have asked the Government Accountability Board to investigate the Waukesha County vote totals from the 2006 election as well. So, we're making progress, but we need to keep it up. The original post is below.

Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites have signed a petition requesting a bipartisan investigation into the Waukesha County vote count. You can sign it too, and I urge you to do so. However, there are many other effective ways you can help fix Waukesha County, and I implore you to do so now.

We need a clear explanation of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus's "common human error" without spending any more tax payer money. Nickolaus must answer our questions now before we can reasonably consider all of the vote counts official and before anyone can begin to consider a recount. It's Nickolaus's duty to her office, because whether a recount is needed and how much it'll cost Wisconsin depend upon the issues in Waukesha County. If she doesn't fulfill her duty before a recount must be considered, Nickolaus must resign because we'll never be able to trust her or her competence for that office.

If you are unfamiliar with the relevant issues involving the vote counts in Waukesha County, a Google search will turn up loads of results, Ramona Kitzinger, the only non-Republican member of the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers described some issues here, and I described some issues here as well. I also felt compelled to post quite extensively on the topic.

We the people of Wisconsin know so very little information about the vote counting process and election system in Waukesha County. We don't know for sure that other votes haven't been lost, or that votes were never lost to begin with. We must demand answers whether we live in Waukesha County or any other county in Wisconsin and whether we're Republicans, Democrats or independents, because counting votes right the first time is critical. The results from our computer election systems affect everything that happens after an election, and we need to make sure they're accurate, secure, and used properly.

But it's Nickolaus's duty to provide us with the needed information without us asking for an investigation or a recount.

The latest vote counts can be found here. Milwaukee County is the only county that hasn't completed their canvass. Many of the important issues in Waukesha County may be swept under the table once Milwaukee County finishes their canvass. We thought Milwaukee County would finish earlier this week, but according to WisPolitics they're expected to finish Thursday. So, it's vitally important that we demand answers now and express our doubts with the vote counts from Waukesha County. It's our duty as citizens of Wisconsin.

Here are some other effective things you can do besides signing the petition:

Even if you don't live in Wisconsin, you can help us demand U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the vote counts in Waukesha County. U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin already sent a letter to Holder on April 8 requesting an investigation. National focus on the issues in Waukesha County could help get some answers. So giving Wisconsin some more attention is much appreciated.

We must demand real solutions to problems with our election systems, unlike requiring an ID to vote which is provably not a solution to a very minor issue, it only seeks to stifle valid voters. A world-renowned security expert, Bruce Schneier, described some of the very real issues with election systems after questions over election security during the 2004 elections. A more recent essay by Schneier describes a situation much like the current one in Waukesha County, a 386-vote margin with 18,000 lost votes due to computer error. The only way we can avoid situations like the one in Waukesha County is to demand more transparency in our elections through open election systems. A non-profit organization that has been successful in these efforts is the Open Voting Consortium (I don't know them or have any affiliation).

Wisconsinites can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board regarding issues with the processes and security of the Waukesha County election system, the delayed explanation we were given for the missing votes, and Nickolaus's refusal to give a clear explanation for over a week. The GAB has a complaint form here: The election official in this case is Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.

You can join the wave of rallies across Wisconsin happening every day. Wisconsin Wave is a non-partisan effort to unite Wisconsinites together in support of democracy and other fundamental Wisconsin values. They have a list of their events here. Many other events are listed at Defend Wisconsin. There are probably many other events not included in those two lists, but they're good places to start.

The most important thing you can do right now is help us push Kathy Nickolaus to answer our relevant questions before all of the vote counts are considered official. Spread the word. Tell your friends and family about the questions you have, why you think Nickolaus should answer those questions before all of the vote counts are considered official, and how they can help. Contact the press and your state representatives, and demand a clear explanation before the counts are considered official.

Contacting the press may prove to be most effective, and Facebook and Twitter are effective as well, so don't forget them. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Time is of the essence.

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