Friday, June 30, 2006

Great Letter from the Northwestern

Trip to Oshkosh was a wonderful experience
My husband and I decided to do a different vacation this year. I literally was standing in the hall of my school where I teach and looked at a U.S. map. Oshkosh looked to be about a day's drive away from our southern Indiana home and I really liked the name. So that was the choice.

I did some online research and found a number of events like the Mexican Rodeo, Country USA, the EAA AirVenture Museum, and the Miss Wisconsin Pageant, and the Omro Fireman's Street dance to name a few. Riverside Cemetery, the Public Museum, the Walleye Tournament, St. Raphael's Church and Kodiak Jack's to name a few more!

I am so glad we chose Oshkosh. Your city impressed me as very clean and well kept. The lake is beautiful and Menominee Park with the statue of Chief Oshkosh (though he doesn't resemble the pictures in the museum, much) was great.

Mostly we found a very friendly city, with lots of help from Tourist Information, the desk clerks at La Quinta, and whomever we were standing in line with or sitting next to at an event.

The first question for us usually was "Why Oshkosh?" and then "What Mexican Rodeo?"

I wanted to write to thank all the people we talked with for their help and good humor, the waitress at Charcoal Grill II for serving those great brats and the lady in Berlin that helped us find the other Union Star Cheese Factory in Fremont.

I certainly would recommend Oshkosh for a wonderful, relaxing vacation and some real friendly people.

Greg and Rosemary Stanley Bedford, Ind.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Feather in Winnebago's Cap

Chuck Orenstein, our Director of Finance has been appointed by Gov. Doyle to a task force to examine Milwaukee County's budget problems.

Obviously, the good job Winnebago County does is being recognized.

Here is the press release.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Northwestern Coverage of the Diebold Vote is Right On:

Here is the story - My favorite parts are highlighted:

Grant, Diebold get nods in county

County Board votes 28-10 to approve reimbursable purchase for touch-screen ballot machines

By Alex Hummel of The Northwestern

You will officially have the choice of darkening ovals or tapping touch-screens in Winnebago County come September.

The Winnebago County Board voted 28-10 Tuesday to spend $288,000 on 50 touch-screen voting machines, one for each county polling place. The technology is recommended by the county's municipal clerks to comply with federal election law. But it continues to rile skeptics warning of 21st century election meddling.

A first attempt to approve the purchase failed in a May board vote, lacking a needed supermajority.

Tuesday's vote was preceded by one more call for delay, additional emphasis on reports of Diebold Election Systems security flaws and new demands to listen to the disabled community, the largely-ignored and long-disenfranchised voting population the new technology is intended to empower.

"Now is not the time to act," said Supervisor Shiloh Ramos of Neenah, urging an August vote so officials could investigate the Help America Vote Act options to satisfy disabled and blind voters. "Now is the time to listen. Now is the time to investigate."

The Help America Vote Act requires improved access to elections for physically disabled, visually-impaired and blind Americans. In Wisconsin, municipal clerks were given the power to recommend which Help America Vote Act-compliant remedies polling places should use.

Winnebago County's clerks favor Diebold's touch-screens, compatible with the county's existing electronic scan ballot counters. The county was tapped as a central purchaser of the technology and will be reimbursed by the federal government.

One touch-screen machine is planned for each of the county's 48 polling places. The city of Oshkosh and Winnebago County each get one extra to help program digital ballots. Clerks ensure the Diebold equipment is safe and secure. But even Tuesday, concerns about security and paper trails dominated debate.

"When I go to a bank and a TYME machine, I get a receipt," said Supervisor Bill Wingren of Oshkosh.
County Clerk Sue Ertmer stressed without the vote Tuesday, it would have been up to the county's individual towns, cities and villages to hustle up and comply with the Vote Act on their own. The technology needs to be in place by this approaching election cycle.

"We can't just wait until July," Ertmer told the board.

If you put Supervisor Ramos' comment together with County Clerk Ertmer's, don't you end up with:

"There is a time to think and there is a time to act. And this, gentlemen, is no time to think." (Bud Boomer, Canadian Bacon)

P.S. - I agreed with Supervisor Ramos 100%

I will have my debate and vote recap of this issue up tonight, hopefully.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Is Someone Trying to Pull a Fast One?

The agenda for tomorrow's meeting has been amended to include both the original resolution from Judiciary as well as the amended resolution from Supervisor Schaidler.

This seems pretty fishy to me.

The agenda notes that the original resolution was "laid over from June 14, Board Meeting."

However, if you look at the Agenda from June 14th, we voted on:

Authorize Acceptance of a Grant of $294,000 for the Purchase of 49 NewVoting Machines for County and Municipal Use and Appropriate Funds to Capital Outlay Account in the County Clerk’s 2006 Budget for that Purpose

Which is the amended resolution, not the original one. In fact, when calling for the vote, Chair Albrecht mentioned several times that it was the amended resolution we were voting on.

I suspect someone does not have their ducks in a row and are trying to cover their butt....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What They Won't Admit When You Are Trying to Buy....

Diebold takes rap for voting issues

By Staff Reporter
Published: Friday,
June 16, 2006 7:16 PM CDTE
The Kern County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. to receive a full report on the problems voters experienced in the June 6 primary election from Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. officials and county elections officials.

The company that sold Kern County its $5-million touch-screen voting machines took full responsibility at last week's board meeting.
Diebold representatives told the supervisors that bad voting cards and bad communication caused voters to be turned away from many Kern polls June 6.

“I am happy Diebold stepped up to the plate and admitted their errors, and I look forward to receiving the full report at the next meeting,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Jon McQuiston.

The meeting will take place in the board's chambers at 1115 Truxtun Ave. in Bakersfield and will be broadcast on Mediacom Channel 16. Local residents may also participate via the two-way video teleconferencing link at the County Administrative Building at 400 N. China Lake Blvd. Anyone wishing to comment should call McQuiston's Administrative Assistant Craig Peterson at 384-5829.

According to last weeks sales presentation, they don't malfunction.....


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Let's Push It Until We Have A Real Hearing

Touch-screen decision pushed to next week
by Alex Hummel of The Northwestern
Touch-screen voting machines or not, the Winnebago County Board’s indecision is certainly touching a nerve.

On Wednesday, coming off a mid-May county board defeat of a resolution to buy 49 high-tech digital touch-screen voting machines, the Winnebago County Board voted 28-6 to reconsider measure on June 20. They stopped short of actually casting a second vote on a controversial topic.

At its regular meeting on June 20, the 38-member board will reconsider the defeated resolution to spend a federally-reimbursable $288,000 and buy 50 Diebold Elections Systems touch-screen voting machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act.

HAVA contains a provision calling for touch-screen technology, or something like it, to improve access to the U.S. election system for physically disabled, visually-impaired and blind Americans. But what technology is the right technology to incorporate into local polling places is stirring debate in Winnebago County and, apparently, on a scale like none other in Wisconsin, State Elections Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy said Wednesday.

Kennedy was among the speakers in a supercharged public forum on the issue at the Winnebago County Courthouse. Elected officials, disabled advocates and skeptical citizens aired vastly different views and reviews of Diebold’s technology.

Municipal clerks in Winnebago County favor its machines because they would be the least-costly, most-compatible add-on to the county’s existing electronic-ballot scanning machines. Critics question the equipment’s integrity, its ability to produce paper verification of digital ballots and mounting reports of lawsuits flaring up around the United States as paper jams and security issues dog the machines.

A small anti-Diebold protest greeted supervisors entering the courthouse on Wednesday. The pressure was on Sandy Smick in a different way.

The Oshkosh woman, 61, has a developmental disability. Bad knees and, sometimes, the lack of a ride to the polling place have prevented her from voting, she said. But Wednesday evening, she found herself giving the Diebold touch-screen voting machine causing such a ruckus a try in front of 38 county supervisors. She dished out fairly high marks.

“Pretty cool,” Smick said smiling, having tapped her decision on a digital Diebold ballot with the aid of a company rep.

Shirley Schmidt, 66, of Oshkosh, was, likewise, empowered.

Schmidt, who has been blind since birth, said she had to be “patient” with the Diebold machine’s audio delivery of ballot information via headphones. But she also said she liked the taste of independence. She cast her own ballot – however fake it was – for a first time, no human assistant required.

“I just hope people will use it,” Schmidt said. “Sometimes, they put stuff out for the disabled and the disabled won’t use it.”

Michael Huckaby wasn’t as sold.

The blind Madisonian and representative of the National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin made a special trip to Oshkosh Wednesday to weigh in on the local HAVA touch-screen debate. He told the county board the audio-features of the Diebold product can produce a “Chipmunky” sound if a voter accidentally speeds up a handheld control of the human voice delivering ballot information to the voter.

“I don’t like the way it Chipmunks on you,” Huckaby said.

Diebold representative Steve Corey stressed that fears of computer hacking and paper-record malfunctions are, largely, just that.

Diebold’s machine does produce a paper roll authenticating a voter’s intent after a digital ballot is tapped out. Only after the paper record is printed and stored in a sealed canister is a voter allowed to “cast” his or her ballot digitally, Corey said.

Kennedy, too, assured the county board and audience that the State Elections Board did all it could to screen the HAVA equipment for bugs.

County board Supervisor Jef Hall, of Oshkosh, questioned why the county board was given no menu of HAVA-compliance options cleared by state elections officials. Hall also challenged both Corey and Kennedy on the security and effectiveness of the Diebold systems.

“Can I stand here and tell you this device will never jam – no,” Corey told Hall at one point.

A UWO computer science professor and the Oshkosh Area League of Women Voters were among other skeptical locals to testify against Diebold’s system."

The county and municipal clerks acted in good faith to recommend this purchase; however, LWV believes that purchase of Diebold touch screen voting machines would be a mistake,” League representative Kathy Propp said in a statement given to the county board.

Alex Hummel: (920) 426-6669 or


Friday, June 16, 2006

June 20th Agenda is available

It will be a full meeting. The agenda is here.

Some highlights:

RESOLUTION NO. 29-52006: Authorize Acceptance of a Grant of up to $288,000 for the Purchase of 50New Voting Machines for County and Municipal Use and Appropriate Funds to Capital Outlay Account in the County Clerk’s 2006 Budget for that Purpose.
Submitted by:
Comment: As most know, I am against using the Diebold machine, and believe we should not approve this until we have a real hearing in which we see all the options available.

RESOLUTION NO. 38-62006: Authorize Creation of Park View Health Center Construction Project Fund with Oshkosh Area Community FoundationSubmitted
Comment: I believe that we need an easy way to allow people to donate to Park View. This seems like a good idea to me.

RESOLUTION NO. 39-62006: Authorize Creation of Park View Health Center Endowment Fund
Comment: Same as above - we need an easy way for people to donate to Park View

ORDINANCE NO. 40-62006: Amend Section 5.07(5)(d)(a) of the General Code of Winnebago County (Daily Jail Fee)
Comment: I will have some real questions about this. My gut reaction is that we should not put people back on the street from jail with a debt burden. If we want to rehabilitate and not encourage re-offending, this is a bad idea. Also, if we truly want truth insentencingg, then make this part of the fine and resitution, not a back-door way of collecting more from the inmates. I am not 100% decided, but that is where I lean. I look forward to the discussion

RESOLUTION NO. 43-62006: Authorize Payment for Excess Committee Days (April 1, 2005 thru April 17, 2006)
Comment: I am not quite sure what this is about. I will be asking around.

RESOLUTION NO. 49-62006: Authorize Appropriation of $164,000 to Resurface the Parking Lot for the Courthouse and Orrin King Building
Comment:preventivee maintenance is important to save money, plus the lot is in District 17, which I am very interested in keeping beautiful.

RESOLUTION NO. 50-62006: Authorize Appropriation of $262,000 to Replace the Roof at the Orrin King Building
Comment: Same as above -preventivee maintenance is important to save money, plus the building is in District 17, which I am very interested in keeping beautiful.

RESOLUTION NO. 51-62006: Authorize a Transfer of $72,000 from the Highway Department Fund and $8,000 from the Planning Department Professional Services Fund to the County Road Maintenance Cost Center for an Interchange Study
Comment: We need a way to reduce traffic at the Breezewood interchange. I have heard from many people in the county who support this - as do I.

RESOLUTION NO. 52-62006: Authorize Acceptance of a Donation of $100,000 and Appropriation of Said Money for the Courtyard Garden and Paved Wheelchair Path at the New Park View Health Center Facility
Comment: I am very proud of the involvement J. J. Keller has in the county. That said, because I work there, I will be abstaining from this vote.

RESOLUTION NO. 53-62006: Approve Industrial Development Board Loan – Village of Winneconne
Comment: It is good to see the county helping develop small business. The fact that this is a loan and not a grant makes it even that much easier to support.

RESOLUTION NO. 54-62006: Authorize Appropriation of $400,000 for the First Phase of the Radio System Upgrade in the Sheriff’s Department
Comment: Public Safety is the most important job of the county government. This is the definition of a need versus a want.


I Fully Support This...

Board to consider radio upgrades
By Jim Collar of The Northwestern
The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider whether to spend $400,000 for the first phase toward modernizing the county's emergency radio infrastructure.

While officials acknowledged the high price tag comes in a difficult budget environment, they argue the upgrades are becoming increasingly necessary for effective service.

According to the resolution, money sought Tuesday would primarily cover design and engineering costs of a project that would eventually allow emergency workers to hear radio transmissions on a countywide scale.

Sheriff Michael Brooks said that the federal government will require all jurisdictions to change to narrow band frequencies by 2011. The change will mean decreased distances for radio transmissions. In the current system, emergency responders already have some difficulty receiving communications through their radios depending on their location.

Right now, dispatchers can only send messages to a single tower. If a volunteer firefighter were out of range of the tower, he or she wouldn't get the message.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Not a Hearing, A Sales Presentation

I am outraged by how last night's meeting went.

Originally, it was to be a joint IS & Judiciary meeting. The IS Committee (which I am a member) had directed County Clerk Sue Ertmer to invite as many vendors as would show up.

Then, when Chair Albrect decided that the meeting should be for the entire county board, he unilaterally decided to invite only the Diebold salesman.

Therefore, an opportunity for open government and honest debate was shut down. It was shut down by one person acting on his own.

We did not give fair service and representations to voters with disabilities in Winnebago County last night. We did not advance the debate on the issue. We did nothing to increase public confidence in our decisions. We failed, blew hot air and wasted time.

Unless we have a true hearing, in which we see all machines and have an open debate instead of a sales job, we will have failed the voters of Winnebago County.


League of Women Voters urges County Board to delay or reject touch-screen voting

League of Women Voters urges County Board to delay or reject touch-screen voting

The Oshkosh Area League of Women Voters is asking the Winnebago County Board to delay a vote on or completely reject controversial touch-screen voting machines intended to comply with a federal law.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, League representative Kathy Propp echoed the national organization's stance -- that touch screen voting may have fundamental flaws. "We are not advocating in favor of any particular vendor," Propp's statement reads. "However, the League of Women Voters has serious questions about whether the Diebold touch screen voting machines meet our criteria of 'secure, accurate, recountable, accessible, with voter verifiable paper record.' The county and municipal clerks acted in good faith to recommend this purchase; however, LWV believes that purchase of Diebold touch screen voting machines would be a mistake."

The Oshkosh chapter urges the county board to put off or kill a resolution calling for a $288,000 purchase of 50 Diebold Election Systems touch-screen units, intended to provider greater ease and independence in voting for disabled, visually impaired and blind people.


UPDATED - VOTE-PAD - Board Meeting on Voting Machines June 14th 5:00PM - County Courthouse

UPDATE - 6/12/06 - VOTE-PAD will be in attendance at the meeting.

I received the following confirmation today:

Dear Mr. Hall,

Yes, Dianna will be there, regardless of whether or not we are on the agenda. She will be delighted to answer your questions, even if we are only allowed the time during the public portion of the agenda. I hope some people there are actual people with disabilities who can take an experiential look at the Vote-PAD.


Ellen TheisenPresident, Vote-PAD, Inc.

Why was she concerned about being on the agenda? Because of the following email I received from Chair Albrecht:

Hi Jef,
I couldn't reach you by phone, so I thought I'd e-mail you about your request to have Vote Pad demonstrate their equipment at Wednesday's meeting.

I'm not going to put them on the agenda to demonstrate, but they are welcometo speak during the public portion of the meeting.

See you Wednesday.


Once again, please contact Chairman Albrecht and urge him to allow ALL vendors to have equal opportunity and access to our meeting.

His contact is, once again:
(920) 235-4959


The meeting to discuss the purchase of voting machines has been moved to the County Board chamber in the courthouse.

It will be a special orders meeting for the entire board.

As I get more info, I will update this post - I am forward dating it to the 15th to keep it on top - posts added until then will appear under this one.

UPDATE 6/1/06 - Here is the notice of the County Board Meeting.

It looks like the Northwestern is correct, and according to Chairman Albrecht's memo, we will be voting on this the 14th. As I pointed out below, this is against the wishes of the committees and the board.

UPDATE 5/31/06 - The Northwestern has more details of the meeting here.

If the article is proven correct, I 100% disagree with Chairman Albrecht's individual decision to invite Deibold only. The state has approved 4 different methods, to make an informed choice and best serve Winnebago County, we should see as many as possible.

If Chairman Albrecht does this, he will be going against the wishes of the IS Committee, one of the original sponsors of the program. We instructed the committee meeting to have multiple vendors here. It was also discussed to have multiple vendors in the Judiciary Committee meeting.

Also, the Judiciary and IS Committees set this meeting to be informational only. Mr. Albrecht seems to be going against the committee wishes as well for this. He is also going against the spirit of the board's discussion at the last meeting when we discussed sending this back to committees for fact-fining before the next regular board meeting.

I would urge anyone reading this to contact Chairman Albrecht and urge him to make this meeting what both committees and the board originally intended it to be, an informational session for both the board and the public.

Sunlight on these proceedings is needed.

Chairman Albrecht's email address is - his phone number is (920) 235-4959

Monday, June 12, 2006

California Elections: Diebold Machines Breakdown

Machine problems caused other voters to be sent away without being able to vote in Stockton, Lodi, Tracy and Morada. Officials said the machines were touch-screen devices manufactured by Diebold Election Systems. Diebold has been under scrutiny by federal and state officials.


Oakland Ditches Diebold After Lawsuit

Alameda County approves new voting system
By Chris Metinko

OAKLAND - Alameda County supervisors on Thursday approved plans for a new voting system, consisting mainly of paper ballots that will be scanned electronically and touch screens for use by disabled voters.

The board voted 3-2 to purchased the new system from Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems and hopes to have it in place for November's election. The new system would give the county 1,000 optical scanners and 1,000 touch-screens, enough to put one of each at every polling location.

The decision on the new system did not come easy. Dozens of county voters questioned the reliability of touch-screen voting machines.

"I don't understand why we have to get these expensive machines that are full of problems," said John Morton of Oakland who favored going back to a hand count. "I don't think waiting a day or two for results (of an election) is going to matter to most people."

The county has a spotty record with purchasing new voting systems.

In 2001, the county purchased 4,000 Diebold touch-screen machines for $12 million, but the move soon proved troublesome. The equipment had glitches, including once assigning votes to the wrong candidate.

Diebold eventually agreed in 2004 to pay the state and Alameda County $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it made false claims when it sold its equipment to the county. The settlement came after local and state officials found Diebold had installed uncertified software in the county's touch-screens and that its system was vulnerable to hackers.

Many who spoke Thursday favored a blended system made by Election Systems & Software -- the same company Contra Costa and Solano counties use for their elections.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Judiciary Committee Has Voting Machines on the Agenda Again

On the 12th - 2 days before the board meeting, the Judiciary committee will discuss the Memorandum of Understanding for the voting machines.

Yet another good reason that the 14th meeting should have been a dual committee meeting as we requested....

Here is the agenda.

We will need to amend any resolution that comes before the board, most likely.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

From a Salt Lake Tribune Article:

"Most of the vendors use a process that is secure. You need authorized media, passwords and other security," Shamos says. "With Diebold's machines, you don't need any of that."


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Northwestern: Don't Rush Into Diebold, Chairman Albrecht!

Thank you, Northwestern, for this editorial

Editorial: County shouldn't rush to purchase voting machines

Winnebago County's rush to judgment to purchase touch screen voting machines is a disservice to citizens with grave concerns about the technology.

Winnebago County Board Chairman David Albrecht hasn't spelled out any compelling reason to push for quicker action in the face of controversy surrounding the touch-screen voting machines. Albrecht canceled a scheduled committee meeting on the subject in preference for moving the issue to the full county board, with a possible vote being taken on June 14. That effectively limits public debate on the topic.

There's no compelling reason for the county to rush the issue at the expense of a full public discussion.

Admittedly, the touch-screen voting machines have an appeal. They'll help the county comply with the Help America Vote Act that demands greater accessibility for people with disabilities. The Diebold touch-screen machines under review also connect technologically with paper-ballot scanning machines now in use. And we may end up buying Diebold touch-screen machines. But the county's credibility depends on avoiding the appearance of stiffling public debate to railroad a purchase.

Logic demands a public hearing to air concerns about how accurately a touch-screen machine truly transfers the decision made on the screen into a real vote.

Logic demands answers to questions about how touch-screen machines will perform in the event of a recount where voter intent must be verified.

Logic also demands that if supervisors are going to hear a sales pitch from one of the four state-approved vendors of HAVA-compliant machines that the county should hear the sales pitch from the three other vendors. Our county will commit a serious breach of business ethics that may land it in court with so much preference shown to Diebold.

Again, what should happen is to have a June 14 committee hearing to examine the available machines. Answer the concerns about touch-screen machines. Let people air other issues. Government isn't in the business to squlech public discussion. Remember, the decision made – even with state grant money paying for the purchase – will affect our county for many years.

Government integrity demands openness on all counts. Fast-tracking a purchase with long-term effects isn't right. Chairman Albrecht should see that his credibility and government's credibility depends on moving carefully when more questions are raised, instead of moving more quickly.

The Final Thought: County government should hold a hearing June 14 to investigate concerns about voting machines.

Once again, let Chairman Albrecht know you want him to slow down and make sure your questions are answered:

Chairman Albrecht's email address is - his phone number is (920) 235-4959