Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lisa Wise El Paso Elections Administrator: Rolling Out the Argument to Replace El Paso’s Election Voter Machines

Joe Gudenrath and Lisa Wise
I had the opportunity to participate in the historic 2018 Democratic Primary running as one of 6 Democrats seeking the Democratic Nomination for Congressional District 16. It was an open seat. Veronica Escobar won the election without a run-off and is the Democratic Nominee for the seat to replace Beto O’Rourke, candidate for the U.S. Senate.

It was an interesting race I enjoyed almost as much as my very first race for state representative in 1996. Many things came to light during this race. I discovered that domestic hacking into vulnerable election machines throughout the US is a reality.  It’s not just a Russians thing. The capacity to hack into election machines, infect them with a virus that can change votes, and alter the outcome of “we the peoples” vote is a real and dangerous threat to our democracy.

Enrique Garcia, an accomplished, successful immigration attorney and candidate for Congress, sent an official request to Lisa Wise, Elections Administrator (received on December 7, 2018) for “an external independent audit of voting process/equipment for the upcoming Primary Election 2018”. On December 11, 2017 Wise responded that the “Texas Election Code does not have a mechanism for an external audit, but that Texas Election Code does require the Elections Department to conduct a Public Logic and Accuracy Test prior to sending out any ballots”. Wise also informed Garcia that the process was open to the public and a public notice is posted in El Paso Inc. (It should be released to all the media for any citizen to participate and or witness this process because how many Lower Valley residents subscribe to the El Paso Inc. or how many registered voters do?).  That is is one reason why our election lawsuit was relevant. (More on the lawsuit in a future blog.)

Wise further stated in her response, that “all of our election equipment is air gapped and never connected to the internet”.  The fact that our election machines are “air gapped and never connected to the internet” does not prove that our machines are not vulnerable to hacking.

I will be posting a series of blogs on this very subject on whether we can trust the El Paso Election machines, Premier/Diebold (Dominion) AccuVote TSX DRE-Touchscreen with no VVPAT (, to protect voter will. Interestingly 3 other counties in Texas use our exact machines. Hang on to your hat. It’s a lot of information coming.....

So, who is Lisa Wise
Lisa is an accomplished Democratic Party operative.  She is a Nebraska native who grew up in Omaha. She has a bachelor’s degree from Park University and an MPA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. At Park University she studied Political Science and Public Administration and spent a semester in Washington D.C. interning for Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey.  Lisa was also hired as a Nebraska Democratic Party field coordinator and she served as a field coordinator in Democratic Mayor Mike Fahey’s first campaign. As a field coordinator, Lisa was involved in volunteer recruitment, phone banking, visibility, and staffing numerous campaign events. She also served as a campaign fundraiser for Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Nelson and Mayor Fahey’s re-election campaigns. (

Lisa moved from paid political operative to public servant and was appointed to serve as a Douglas County Deputy Election Commissioner from 2006-2014. It is a position equivalent to our El Paso Election Administrator position but has more checks and balances with a three-member Commission.

Lisa has in depth knowledge on the political side of what a political campaign needs to win an election and has deep Democratic roots. On the public side she has knowledge of the election process, election machines and their vulnerability, and should know election law and federal federal and state statutes for election tampering.

Why did Lisa come to El Paso? 
In 2014, Lisa’s husband Joe Gudenrath was hired as the executive director of the Downtown Management District (DMD) replacing interim director Debbie Hamlyn, (a former deputy El Paso City Manager under Joyce Wilson}.

The El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD), is the public/private entity dedicated to implementing the specific plans of the powers controlling the Downtown Redevelopment Plan. He oversees administration, the board of directors, budget management, program implementation, and strategic planning.

The DMD is a municipal government district and taxing authority. The DMD is primarily funded by the tax assessment imposed on property owners within the district and is supplemented with public dollars through collaboration on specific projects and programs with the City, County and with private dollars made by other local organizations and individuals ( and by the way DMD you have Cesar Chavez misspelled on your website).

Over recent years, the most contentious political issue has been Downtown redevelopment starting with the demolition of City Hall and the scattering of City departments throughout Downtown in select properties. Now the contentious issue is Durangito and the destruction of historic property to bulldoze and build an arena (although the voter ballot language apparently did not specify arena).  

Mr. Gudenrath, Lisa’s husband, has appeared in articles and interviews advocating for the Downtown District on these issues.

And by the way, Gudenrath, prior to serving as DMD’s Executive Director, served as Director of the Omaha Downtown Improvement District Association an organization equivalent to our DMD (according to his LinkedIn profile). He like his wife Lisa, had employment ties to Democratic Mayor Mike Fahey serving first as his Communications Director and ending his tenure as Chief of Staff.

Back to Lisa, according to Commissioner David Stout’s Newsletter (April 1, 2015) the El Paso Elections Commission selected Lisa Wise to serve as our El Paso Elections Administrator, replacing Javier Chacon who was terminated and gagged (like other fired County employees he was forbidden to speak of the details of his termination). County Commissioner Stout stated “This position is critical to the county, as Ms. Wise will be responsible for the elections department’s operation, and making sure elections adhere to state law. The commission set out to find a person who would focus on non-partisan voter registration efforts and increase overall voter turnout in the County.”

So, who selects our El Paso Elections Administrator?
Our El Paso Elections Administrator position was created by Commissioners Court and the Elections Administrator is appointed by the County Election Commission. However, a search at the website does not direct you to the County Election Commission nor does it provide you with a link to the members of this very important commission (based on my recent search). There are no postings that I could find indicating when and how often they meet so that citizens can attend as it is a public created entity. From my recollection the five Commission Members are the County Judge, the El Paso Democratic Party Chair, the El Paso Republican Party Chair, the District Clerk and the County Clerk. I assume that the minutes of these meetings are recorded because their meetings are public (or should be) and subject to open records.

For future blogs it is important to identify the public servant responsible for addressing election irregularities, election machine tampering or voter fraud. That person is the Elections Administrator, the chief county election officer as well as the voter registrar. She is responsible for all open records requests pertaining to any/all elections held in El Paso County.

Public Power Couples & Pillow Talk 

Both Lisa Wise and Joe Gundenrath are public servants. Lisa as the El Paso Elections Administrator and Gudenrath as Executive Director of the DMD, a majority public funded municipal government district.
Lisa and Joe are obviously a very united power couple, utilizing their professional and political backgrounds to achieve their professional, political and personal goals going from one state to another and successfully finding jobs that are pretty much the equivalent to the jobs they had in their home state. It is amazing that both jobs became available within a one year’s time frame.

I find it somewhat disturbing that the person responsible for ensuring that my vote is secure in every election I vote, has pillow talk every night with the person that is working to destroy historic buildings with historic value in the community I was born and raised. But it is more than the Downtown Durangito issue that has me concerned.

The elections overseen by Lisa and her staff impact who is elected and who will eventually vote on important issues such as the arena, bonds, certificates of obligation, time allowed to speak, eminent domain, fixing streets and bridges versus revitalizing trolley cars. The elections she administers decide who is the judge in your courtroom, who your federal and state legislators are as well as providing the results for all elected positions in El Paso County. Chew on that for a moment.

Our Omaha power couple remind me of another El Paso power couple: Sylvia Borrunda Firth, the former City Attorney and her husband attorney Victor Firth.

If you recall Sylvia resigned under a cloud of controversy and concern; “Sylvia Firth departed the city abruptly on Thursday, stepping down after seven years as El Paso city attorney.” ( 4/26/18) It seems her pillow talk with her husband Victor who was representing “9-lives Billy Abraham” could be more than pillow talk because of the insurmountable wealth of information she had access to and because she failed to fully disclose a conflict of interest immediately when the City of El Paso commenced negotiations for the purchase, condemnation, tenant payoffs, eminent domain, and demolition plans the City was considering for the valuable Downtown real estate owned by “9-Lives Billy”. Victor Firth (at the time) was the negotiating bankruptcy attorney for the sale of the properties. Pretty big pillows !!!

Sylvia’s resignation always kind of stunk like a skunk because a public statement was issued to correct her “resignation” letter as a “retirement” so that she could be eligible for a larger taxpayer funded exit pension. (Stinky, stinky, stinky !!!) City Council validated her questionable exit.

Unfortunately, City Council also approved the use of eminent domain to acquire one of “9-lives Billy’s” properties – the former and historic Chinese Laundromat at 212 W. Overland. The building is the doorway to the historic Duranguito neighborhood (a cornerstone to the untold Chinese history of our community) and where the city desires to destroy history to build a $180 million multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center, referred to in some legal documents (not all) as the “arena”.

Hopefully, a wealthy historic conscious Paseño will come forth to purchase and restore the Toltec, Caples and Newberry buildings that "9-Lives Billy" still owns. #DontVoteEarly #historymatters #myvotematters #theelectionmachinesweusematter #protectingmyvotematters 

Next blog is about our hacked into machines, Premier/Diebold (Dominion) AccuVote TSX DRE-Touchscreen with no VVPAT; DefCon26 Underground Network Convention, a video of the hacked machine we use in El Paso at the DefCon26 Election Village and the state of Virginia case to remove the Premier/Diebold (Dominion) AccuVote TSX DRE-Touchscreen with no VVPAT last September 2017 as a result of the hacking at DefCon25.
By Norma Chavez

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