Group finishes audit of county election records
JANESVILLE When a group of citizens who spent two days hand-counting county results of the June gubernatorial recall election, it was kind of like in-laws leaving after a long weekend, Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said Wednesday.
It's not that Stottler was upset to serve as host, she said. It's just that her office now can focus on other work.
Stottler said the group, Election Fairness, on Wednesday wrapped up a hand-counted audit of about 5,000 of Rock County's 60,000 paper ballots cast June 5. The group took on the process to see whether the electronic tally the county uses to report election results to the state match up with paper votes.
The group, which claims to be nonpartisan, filed an open records request for a hand-recount in all 72 Wisconsin counties. It says it seeks to run the same audits statewide to see if counties' electronic vote tabulations truly are accurate.
Stottler said the group found just one anomaly in its audit, which spanned 10 hours Tuesday and Wednesday. That instance involved two ballots marked for use in one Janesville voting ward being given to voters from another ward that were voting at the same precinct.
Stottler said that mistakes stemmed from human error and had nothing to do with the way the county's electronic voting machines tally results.
The group left satisfied with the county's response to what was "probably the most extensive citizen's request" the county's had for review of voting records, Stottler said.
Stottler said she's still not clear of the ultimate goal of the group's audit, but she said her office was glad to comply.
"They're off to the next county," Stottler said. "Instead of getting frustrated, we took this as an opportunity to show the public all that we try to do here to protect the integrity of elections."
Tuesday, the group said Rock County was the first county to be audited. That's because the county was the first to accommodate the open records request filed July 2.
Stottler said she was confused when she learned the group had fears that voting machines could be tampered with by local officials or even vendors.
Before elections, Rock County's voting machines are programmed and tested once by Stottler and another worker in her office. Then municipal officials test them again publicly so voters can see for themselves that the machines operate properly.
Stottler said she had explained that process to the group Tuesday.
The group made it clear it was finished auditing votes in Rock County, but members did not say where they planned to go next, Stottler said.
Stottler's not sure the group will have as much access to election documents in other counties. She said other county clerks have told her they might not allow citizens to physically touch paper ballots because of the risk of ballots being altered or spoiled.