MADISON — New emails show “damning” evidence of coordination to break Wisconsin election law by Mark Zuckerberg-funded liberal activist groups and the “WI-5” cities swept up in a presidential election scandal, according to an attorney representing Wisconsin voters in election integrity complaints.
Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, long-time Democratic Party operative who was embedded in the election administration of Wisconsin’s largest and Democrat-heavy cities, worked with Racine’s city clerk on a “ballot tracking system,” according to the emails obtained by Wisconsin Spotlight.
Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, Wisconsin lead for the liberal activist Vote at Home Institute, also sought “unauthorized” voter data from WisVote, the statewide election management and voter registration system.
That’s a clear violation of Wisconsin election law, said Erick Kaardal, attorney for the Wisconsin Voter Alliance, which is representing several plaintiffs in election complaints against Racine, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Kenosha — the “WI-5” cities.
“The statewide voters registration system, administered by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, is backed by many different security measures. There are four levels of certification for authorized users,” he said. “This is evidence of access of an unauthorized use by an unauthorized user.”
WEC’s manual includes strict security policies on access. The information ultimately is public, but only when WEC releases it, Kaardal said.
“Trying to get this data in real time gives an advantage” to liberal activists working to help bring out the vote for Joe Biden and other liberal candidates, the attorney said.
On Oct. 20, 2020, just two weeks before the hotly contested election between Republican incumbent President Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Joe Biden, Spitzer-Rubenstein sent an email to Racine City Clerk Tara Coolidge and Assistant Clerk Amber Pfeiffer. The email, with the subject line “Tracking App + Map Follow-ups,” asked Racine’s top election officials for help with the “ballot tracking system.”
“Hi Tara and Amber, it was great to meet you in person yesterday and we should soon be good to go with the full ballot tracking system. Do you want to plan to speak Friday or Monday to go over how to use it and make sure you’re all set?” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote.
The email takes the former New York Democratic Party operative’s questionable involvement in Wisconsin’s elections to a new level, beyond his work “curing” or correcting absentee ballots or his concerning access to ballots and election networks on Election Day.
In the email, Spitzer-Rubenstein then notes that he was able to “download the ward shapefile,” a voter data format for geographic information system (GIS) software. The systems are used to target specific voters in get-out-the-vote campaigns. In this case, Democratic voters.
“And then, for the map, I was able to download the ward shapefile, so all I’ll need from you is the data from WisVote,” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote. “There are two ways to do this: “1. You can run counts by ward for active voters, absentee ballot application and ballots returned. 2. You can download the full list of active voters and absentee voters with ward/district combo and ballot status reason for the absentee applications… and I can process everything so you won’t need to.”
The emails do not include a response from the Racine elections officials.
The Wisconsin Voter Alliance and other election integrity groups allege WEC and the five cities violated state and federal election laws by allowing the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to infiltrate and usurp election administration. CTCL received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, money it generously poured on Democrat-controlled cities in battleground states to administer “safe and secure” elections.
Emails and other documents show more than a dozen liberal activist nonprofits involved in everything from printing election manuals to mining data to target traditionally Democratic voters. Such voter attraction efforts are not the legal domain of local election officers.
Another newly obtained email also points to another Facebook connection in the liberal voter activists’ tech efforts.
“We’re going to bring in Ari Steinberg at U.S. Digital Response from U.S. Digital Response (another CTCL technical assistance partner) to help with some of the technology needs we might run into, so he’ll be on the call,” states a Sept. 19, 2020 email to Racine’s Coolidge. Steinberg appears to have been tapped to develop the vote tracking app for Racine’s municipal clerks.
Steinberg is a former Facebook engineer. He told The Information he designed the app during his spare time after taking a leave of absence as engineering director at Airbnb. He was hoping to have a “positive impact on the election” with his app that would allow people to check whether they or other people they know in Pennsylvania had their votes counted.
“After almost two weeks of holding up the release of the app, called Drive Turnout, Apple on Thursday told the developer behind it, Ari Steinberg, that the app violates the company’s privacy rules and that Apple won’t release it,” the publication reported last year.
“Google—which operates the other major mobile platform, Android—approved Steinberg’s app within a day of its submission.”
The story included Apple’s rejection notice to Steinberg.
“Apps that compile personal information from any source that is not directly from the user or without the user’s explicit consent, even public databases, are not permitted on the App Store,” the guideline read,” the tech giant stated.
According to the mobile app website, Drive Turnout clearly was designed to make an impact in battleground states.
“Drive Turnout empowers you to make a difference this election. Even if you don’t live in a swing state, chances are, you probably know some people who do. We’ll help you find those people and make sure that their votes count.”