Wulf, Stottler respond to Briarmoon on elections
K. Andreah Briarmoon, a candidate for Janesville City Council in the April 5 election, made the following statements during a March 10 candidates forum sponsored by the Janesville League of Women Voters:
“Our voting machines need to be properly monitored. We found out last year that the black boxes sit on desks, nobody watches and takes them back to the courthouse and back to City Hall before they get put into their little containers. Black boxes are picked up when the polls close but the ballots are not. Ballot bags were left underneath a teacher’s desk the last time there was a recount, so unfortunately we don’t know that we have a fair election in Janesville right now, and the allegation can be made that it isn’t fair, unfortunately. So we need to create a system of proper monitoring.”
The Gazette sent that statement to both Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler and Janesville Clerk-Treasurer Jean Wulf and asked them to respond. Their emailed replies are below:
‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond. The black boxes are called prom packs that hold the programming to read the ballots. They are programmed by the Rock County Clerk and secured, with a pre-numbered seal, in a bag or box. We transport the sealed container from the Courthouse to the Municipal Building where it is kept in a locked room.
“As required by law, we test the equipment to ensure an accurate count of the ballots. We publish a notice advising the public of the date, time and place that the machines are tested. The public is welcome to watch the process. When we test the equipment, we break the pre-numbered seal to access the prom pack. We place the prom pack in the voting machine and secure it with a pre-numbered seal. We test the prom pack to ensure that it is programmed correctly and the voting machine results match our predetermined results. Once we are satisfied the prom pack is functioning as programmed, we zero out all votes on the machine so that it starts at zero ballots on election day. The prom pack, which has been secured with a pre-numbered seal, remains in the machine. The machine is kept in a locked room until it is transported to the polling place for the election. At the polling place, it is placed in a secure location.
“On election day, the machine is used to process all ballots cast during the election. After the election is concluded, the poll workers break the pre-numbered seal on the machine to access the prom pack. The prom pack is placed in a blue security bag and secured with a pre-numbered seal. At the Municipal Building, we break the pre-numbered seal to access the prom pack. The prom pack is used to modem the results to the county. The prom pack is then placed back in the blue security bag and secured with a pre-numbered seal.
“The day after the election, the sealed blue bag is transported to the courthouse, where it remains sealed until the next election or recount.
“The next topic I would like to cover is the ballot bags. The ballot bags are used to secure ballots at the end of an election. The ballot bags are secured with pre-numbered seals. To access any ballots, one would have to break the seal. The ballot bags are locked in the ballot boxes at the polling places on election night. The next day, our election workers pick up all the voting equipment and sealed ballot bags. The voting equipment is delivered to the Municipal Building and the sealed ballot bags are taken to the courthouse. To the best of my knowledge, ballot bags were never found under a teacher’s desk. If that allegation is true, I would suggest that the police be contacted to investigate.
“In conclusion, all seal numbers are logged and verified on the Chain of Custody form and/or the Inspector’s Statement. It would be nearly impossible to manipulate an election with all the controls in place, the number of people involved in each process and all activities are in plain view of the public.
“If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.”
“In light of the activities occurring in Waukesha County over the election results certification, I’m concerned that comments made like the ones of Ms. Briarmoon will just further erode the trust of the voting process in this community, and I can only ask that citizens making such accusation provide evidence that back up such statements or they are difficult to take seriously.
“Jean Wulf, the city clerk/treasurer for the city of Janesville, is one of the most competent clerks in our state and puts great efforts into being thorough and professional. Her explanation of the election process is complete and accurate, so I won’t attempt to duplicate her, but will offer some intellectual feedback on elections.
“I have put a great deal of effort in making my office transparent and open to the citizens. I rely heavily on the county’s I.T. (information technology) professionals to make sure that my data is backed up and stored properly as we have retention rules and software agreements that cannot be overlooked.
“I train poll workers and clerks on a regular basis and personally attend training at every opportunity with the Government Accountability Board and national Election Center out of Houston, Texas. As a result of this training, I have achieved the title of “Clerk-Trainer” for the GAB and will graduate in August from the Election Center with a certificate as a “Certified Elections and Registration Administrator” (CERA), of which only 12-15 people in Wisconsin have, most of them GAB staffers.
“Regardless of the content or reputation of a citizen’s character, I take EVERY single election concern seriously and do my best to explain our process as well as changing procedures where necessary to further improve the voting process. The work I do and that of municipal clerks is nearly 100 percent PRESCRIBED by state statute and GAB administrative regulations, followed by county and municipal policy and ordinances. If these rules are followed, there is little room for such allegations and errors to occur.
“It is unfortunate that the actions (or inactions) of others can cast shadows of doubt and distrust onto my office in Rock County, but I can only offer a solid track record of honesty and transparency, as well as accuracy and professionalism in recounts and other election outcomes. I know that Rock County has well-educated and trustworthy election officials and will continue to work towards excellence in elections in this county through best practices and ongoing training and education.
“I cannot oversee municipal clerks on election day, and they are charged to administer the election on that day. They rely on volunteers within their community to assist and certify to the process. I try to make every effort and opportunity to assure that poll workers are informed, confident and have access to election law and procedure before, during and after each election.
“We are human, and we can and do make errors on occasion, but when errors occur we do our best to correct and not repeat it in the future.
“I can provide you a long list of people (from both sides of the aisle) who have witnessed or assisted in the election process in Rock County since I took office (and prior to me), and I would encourage them to speak very freely about the process, including Gazette staffers and WCLO reporters. My office has ALWAYS been open to the public to show the extent I go to in order to administer fair, secure and accurate elections!
“Thanks for the opportunity to respond.”