County Clerk Mary Robbins has received three open records requests to conduct recounts of the June 5 recall election.
On Tuesday, July 3, James Mueller, an attorney in Cross Plains and a founding member of Wisconsin Citizens for Election Protection, emailed the county clerk requesting that she “preserve the voted ballots, unvoted ballots, the print out tapes and the electronically stored memory from the voting machines, tally sheets, inspectors’ statements, used absentee ballot envelopes, poll lists, Board of Canvassers’ reports and spreadsheets or other summaries of the vote totals from the June 5, 2012 Recall Elections.”
The email indicated that the groups that Mueller represents want to inspect all county records related to the recall election.
The groups are recruiting volunteers to conduct recounts and ballot inspections in all 72 counties.
On Friday, July 6, the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism in Ohio sent a similar email to Waupaca County asking that all ballots, print-out tapes from optical ballot scanners and all electronic voting records be made available for inspection.
The request also seeks all records pertaining to the programming of the voting equipment, maintenance records and the names of any people who were involved in the programming.
At issue is whether electronic voting machines are accurately counting the votes.
Mueller, who was town clerk in Middleton from 1999 to 2005, said his confidence in the system for counting votes has been “deeply shaken,” in a 2011 letter to municipal clerks.
“I participated as an observer in the Supreme Court Election Recount and witnessed a diverse array of ‘anomalies’ and flawed election procedures,” Mueller wrote.
In a June 25 letter to The Cap Times, Mueller said, “The short-term protection against election fraud of manipulated vote totals is citizen participation, citizens counting the votes as election officials handle the ballots on election night, at a recount or when citizens inspect the ballots under a public records request.”
The County Post was unable to interview Mueller in time for this article.
Among the concerns raised about the recall election were reports that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus changed the programming in her county’s voting program after they had been officially tested.
An independent review conducted at the county executive’s request found that changes had been made to the voting program.
“The county clerk acknowledged that a change took place, but did not specify what was changed,” the review reported.
Robbins told the County Post that she wanted to uphold the integrity of the elections at the lowest cost possible. She said she will need to have staff available when the groups inspect the election materials and she hopes she can schedule both requests at the same time.
Robbins said she is unable to comply with some aspects of the open records request.
According to guidelines provided by the state Government Accountability Board, ballots must be preserved at least 30 days after a state and local election, tally sheets, inspectors’ statements and used absentee ballot envelopes for 90 days.
However, the detachable recording units in voting machines must be preserved only for 14 days in a state election.
Robbins has already returned the memory cartridges for the June 5 recall election to Command Central, the private vendor in St. Cloud, Minn. responsible for programming the machines.
Although the ballots were scheduled for destruction on July 5, Robbins informed Mueller that they will be maintained until Aug. 2.
She asked that he contact her to set up a time for his group to review the recall election materials.
“All election material being reviewed must be in the presence of County Clerk staff or deputized individuals (deputized by the County Clerk to act on their behalf). No pens or pencils will be allowed in the area of viewing. You will not be allowed to touch the materials. Staff will show materials to you with reasonableness as to the length of viewing the materials,” Robbins said in her email to Mueller.
As of Monday, Robbins was still waiting for a response from either group as to when they may actually review the election records that are available.