Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race – Kathy Nickoulas Creates a Prosser Miracle!

By YeOldeScribe ~ April 8th, 2011 @ 1:59 am

As most of you know (minus one of the competitors in the race), the election for a seat on the State Supreme Court in WI is far from over. Even though the polls closed more than two days and four hours ago, the election still hasn’t been officially certified, and probably won’t be for quite some time. Election officials are currently going through a process called canvassing, which just means making sure the numbers generated by sources like the AP are accurate. It’s normal to see the election results fluctuate a little bit as this process goes on, which is why with only a 204 vote lead it was foolish and irresponsible for challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg to declare victory yesterday. However, as if the plot wasn’t thick enough, today revealed a new twist in the drama surrounding the normally docile April elections.

Due to what’s being called a clerical error, it’s being reported that over 14,000 votes weren’t counted in Waukesha County. The county, a suburb of Milwaukee, voted heavily in favor of Walker last year and Prosser this year. To put things into perspective, Waukesha County voted more heavily for Prosser (73.4%) than Dane County voted for Kloppenburg (73.3%). The “found” ballots followed that trend – 10,959 new votes for Prosser, 3,456 for Kloppenburg. The new totals gives Prosser an insurmountable 7,500 vote lead in the election, and if the vote is deemed legitimate, ensures he remains on the bench.

However, that’s a BIG if.

The woman who “found” the “missing” ballots is Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. You’ve probably never heard of the name before, so Political Progressives will give you a quick rundown of Ms. Nickolaus’ history.

* Nickolaus worked under David Prosser while he was still head of the Republican Congressional Caucus

* In that role, Nickolaus was described as someone who “If you said to her, ‘I really like hot fudge sundaes’, her reply would be, ‘We really have to stop abortions.'” (From The Daily Kos)

* Also in that role, Nickolaus and her entire department was investigated on fraud charges and agreed to testify only after being granted immunity from all charges filed against her. She resigned her position with the state soon after.  (From the AP and MSNBC)

* Nickoulas then successfully ran to become Waukesha County Clerk, where she immediately changed all the voting tabulation software to her own personal computer which only she had access to.

* This earned her an investigation and reprimand from the ultra-conservative Waukesha County board, who audited her system. The audit found the following issues:

a) She was “uncooperative with attempts to have information technologists review the system and confirm the backups.”

b) The county’s IT specialists were not able to verify that her system was secure from failure. The county Director of Administration was quotes as saying, “How does anybody else in the county know, except for her verbal word, that there are backups, and that the software she has out there is performing as it should? There’s no way I can assure that the election system is going to be fine for the next… election.”

c) The County’s manager of IT told her the systems in place were inadequate and could lead to problems. From the IT Manager: “What happens if something goes wrong on election night? We don’t support her at all on election night. She was pretty clear about that. If something goes wrong, what do you do?” he said. “I would love to be able to go in and verify that everything is OK.” (emphasis added)

d) The county also found that if she wanted to keep the election results all to herself – or change a cell without anyone knowing – she could easily do it under the new system. A county councilman said, “If she wants to keep everything secret, she probably can,” later adding “I don’t know if that’s wise or what she should do.”

e) Nickoulas ignored the findings of the audit and willfully ignored complying with it. Instead, she thumbed her nose at her critics and literally scoffed and smirked as they reprimanded her. From the County Board Chairman: “There really is nothing funny about this, Kathy. Don’t sit there and grin when I’m explaining what this is about.”

(The quotes/facts above were taken from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 8/13/2010 , 8/18/2010 , and One Wisconsin Now .)

* In regards to Tuesday’s election, it was Nickoulas’ job to verify the data (which she supposedly did) before it was sent to the AP and other media outlets.

* Two full days later, Nickoulas magically found the ballots her former boss would need not only to secure the election, but to put Kloppenburg in a perilous financial situation if she chose to contest the results. No explanation was given as to why it took two days for Nickoulas to realize that there was a possibility more than zero people voted in Brookfield, or how her software allowed her to submit a spreadsheet with an empty cell.

* Nickoulas also gave no explanation on why she didn’t notice that 12% of her county’s votes hadn’t been tailed. If you do the math, that’s how much she was off by, given today’s developments. That’s not even close! Imagine what would happen if construction workers were 12% off – or engineers at NASA. Our houses would collapse and our lunar landers would be headed to Pluto.

We at Political Progressives aren’t saying that there is evidence that Nickoulas rigged this election, because right now there isn’t. What we are saying is that the woman in charge of verifying all election results for Waukesha County isn’t fit to tally a high school prom election, much less a Sate Supreme Court race with wide-reaching implications. At the very least, Nickoulas should lose her job over this and an investigation against her, her system, and all of the ballots in Waukesha County should be immediately started. At worst (and if the investigation proves there was wrongdoing), she should be charged with election fraud and sentenced accordingly, and a new election should take place if the results of the old one are found to be tampered with beyond repair.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue to post on this developing situation. We’ll take a look at the Republican response to the formerly-tight race, why there’s even more cause for concern given voter turnout for this election, and we’ll provide the Democratic response to the shenanigans going on in Waukesha.

Before we go, we’d like to leave you with the following image from our friends at the New Progressive Muckraker. Our author has made it his Facebook Profile Picture, and we encourage all who appreciate it to use it as well:

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4 Responses to Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race – Kathy Nickoulas Creates a Prosser Miracle!

  1. Chris McConaughay

    I’m feeling very disenfranchised right now… It sort of reminds me of all those ballots “found in the trunk of a car” during the Al Franken election, but worse.

    I wonder just how wide spread the mentality of “I know my opponents are cheating, so it’s okay if I cheat just to keep things even” actually is.

  2. Andrea Frederick

    I also love how 7,500 is conveniently about how much Prosser would need to avoid a mandatory recount. It just smells wrong all around.

    This article pretty much sums up how I feel about this load of crap.

  3. Ben G

    I don’t really understand this post. The whole post discusses how Nickolaus is an evil woman who almost certainly conspired to ensure Prosser won, but then it concludes by saying there is no proof she rigged the election. (Not that we are quick to judge or anything, right?)

    I know tin foil hats are quite fashionable, but wouldn’t it be more curious if Brookfield registered a grand total of zero votes for the election? Take look at Brookfield’s previous voter history and you will find these results are quite consistent with how the city has voted in the past. I think this whole issue can be put to rest with the following…

    From jsonline.com:

    At the news conference with Nickolaus, Ramona Kitzinger, the Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers, said: “We went over everything and made sure all the numbers jibed up and they did. Those numbers jibed up and we’re satisfied they’re correct.”

    As a Democrat, she said, “I’m not going to stand here and tell you something that’s not true.”

    BTW, Kitzinger is also the Vice President of the Waukesha Democratic Party.

  4. YeOldeScribe


    Thank you very much for your comment! We weren’t trying to say Ms. Nickoulas was “evil”. What we did was present her work history and say that given that work history a) No one should allow her within 10 miles of any type of ballot/election and b) That there was reason to doubt her integrity. Whether that makes her “evil” is not up to us to decide – we’d like to think she’s a fine person who just has an atrocious track record when it comes to doing the right thing.

    As for the quote you presented, we’ll be looking at that in today’s post, but this issue is far from resolved in our minds until a) Some sort of explanation is given for how such an egregious error was made and not caught, b) The election results are verified by someone outside the county (the Federal Elections Commission comes to mind), and c) Nickoulas loses her job. There’s no excuse for what she’s been allowed to do in the past and for what she did this week. None.


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