Open Letter to Racine County Clerk: Transparency, please!

It's been two months since we submitted the first open-records request to obtain access to the ballots so that we could get to the truth about how many Racine County voters were disenfranchised by the miscounting machines there last November.

Right now, we know only what we can see from the certified vote totals: That if they are true, Racine County voters left their ballots blank in the presidential race at a rate twice that of voters elsewhere in the state. We don't think Racine voters didn't care who was president. We think the machines failed to count their votes and the election officials failed to check accuracy before they certified.

The ultimate goal is not to overturn the results, of course, but to bring facts to light that will pressure Wisconsin's county clerks to--duh--check that election results actually are accurate before they sign a legal statement saying that they are.

SlideShow-Forbidden.jpgUnfortunately, we have still not obtained the cooperation from Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen that would enable us to conduct an audit that will serve as a good demonstration of how very efficiently and transparently election audits can be performed.

She is insisting that we use a small conference room that will limit the number of observers. In addition, she is forbidding us to provide her staff with a document projector, so that they could display each ballot to all the counters and observers simultaneously. Instead, she is insisting on displaying the ballots by hand at a conference table--a very inefficient method that increases costs and prevents any meaningful observation of the count.

Her letter did not say why she would want to make the audit inefficient and non-transparent, only that she has the authority to do that if she wants.  So, we've written her the following open letter, asking for a meeting to discuss the matter. 

We don't know how she will respond. We can imagine how we'd respond if we were a responsible county clerk, intent on serving the public well and building voter confidence in elections. We would:

  • Eagerly participate--even lead--efforts to develop and demonstrate methods that Wisconsin clerks could use routinely to verify the accuracy of election results. That would include allowing a projector for efficient, transparent audits, and maybe even coming up with ideas of our own to make valid audits more practical; and
  • Call upon national experts and maybe a local citizen's advisory group to help develop and adopt new county canvass procedures--and put them in writing to enable public observation--that would make sure the county canvass never again certified inaccurate election results. 

But how will Clerk Christensen respond? We'll keep you posted.

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