Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Elections Board To Locals: Break The Law

A state law protecting voter privacy is the latest car to join the crumpled heap that is the train wreck known as SVRS, bureaucratic shorthand for Statewide Voter Registration System. SVRS is being developed under the state's contract with the global outsourcing firm Accenture LLP to develop a computerized voter registration list.

Elections Board and Accenture officials have taken great pains to justify the eye-popping $14 million price tag on the contract by saying the company is developing computer software tailor-made for registering voters in Wisconsin. The Democracy Campaign reported last October that the Accenture software didn't appear to be as customized as advertised. Accenture's off-the-shelf program contained data fields for things like party affiliation and whether a voter owns property, even though such voter information is not collected under Wisconsin law and is incompatible with voter registration practices in the state. Those data fields have been deactivated.

But now the Democracy Campaign has discovered that the Elections Board is instructing local election officers to ignore the state law spelling out what voter information is confidential. In a July 21 memo, the board says the registration identification number assigned to each voter "is not treated as confidential" and "is a public record and must be provided upon request" by individuals and organizations with an interest in having access to elector information stored in the database.

The problem with the Elections Board's position is that it is against state law. Section 6.36(1)(b) of Wisconsin's statutes says no person "other than an employee of the board, a municipal clerk, a deputy clerk, an executive director of a city board of election commissioners, or a deputy designated by the executive director" may view voter registration identification numbers.

It appears that Accenture did not take into account the specifics of Wisconsin's election laws and failed to tailor the software programming to the state's laws and needs, and it appears the Elections Board failed to supervise Accenture's development of the software in order to make certain the purchased voter registration software complied with all applicable Wisconsin laws.


Anonymous said...

I am outraged. Perhaps the AG can be persuaded to stay any illigal disclosures AND seek punitive damages from culpable parties, i.e., both private and public players in this mess.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it about time that Kevin Kennedy, Executive Director and Barbara Hansen, Project Manager received their walking papers!

Eisman for Governor said...

I have been a state employee for over 30 years and I have yet to see a single contracting out effort work for the people of Wisconsin. The state managers who bring in the vendors do not know how to establish the scope of the projects nor specify the requirements in enough detail to hold the contractors accountable. I have personally seen tens of millions of hard-earned taxpayer money just wasted. And when big money is being spent there is always the temptation to mix in corruption for good measure.

For more information on how we can change the mess our state government has become, go to

Anonymous said...

I cannot say that there was any corruption in awarding the Aventure contract but it has been clear from the beginning that: 1.awarding the contract in the manner it was is illegal, despite post facto approval; 2. The state is not being well served and the contract should have been cancelled immediately or at any time since; 3. That S. 1 or comparable legislation should be enacted immediately. I also believe that an investigation into all the circumstances of the awarding of the contract should be undertaken. Daryl K. Sherman