Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race – Waukesha County Ballot War Rages On

By YeOldeScribe ~ April 8th, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

Welcome back to Political Progressives. A lot has happened since yesterday, and we’d like to report all the developments in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court Race to you. First and foremost, we wanted to update you on the situation in Waukesha County.

First, in fairness, we wanted to point out that despite Kathy Nickoulas’ questionable ethics, she’s getting some love from her Democratic partner in the local government. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“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.””

Hey, truth is truth, and Political Progressives is all about honesty in government and media. If the votes are truly there and were made legitimately, then they should be counted and Prosser should win the election. Our argument has never been that the election was rigged or that the missing 14,000 votes shouldn’t count. Yesterday our argument was threefold: First, Nickoulas should lose her job/step down and never be allowed within 50 feet of a ballot or an election for her gross negligence she’s displayed both in the past and this week. Second, there should be an investigation from someone outside the county. The Federal Elections Commission would be perfect for the job, although it seems the state is already looking into the matter. Finally, counter-measures need to be put in place to make sure that nothing like this happens again. Simply merging all the data back onto county computers, allowing multiple users to have access to the information, and networking with other counties would be a start (in other words, un-doing everything Nickoulas did).

One of our commenters made the argument that based on the Kitzinger quote, Kloppenburg’s supporters should pack it up and concede the election. We’d like to respectfully disagree with that opinion. Here’s why:

First, canvassing hasn’t been completed yet. While it’s unlikely that Kloppenburg gains 7,500 votes and overtakes Prosser to win the general election, it’s also unlikely that a county official could miss %12 of her votes and swing an election from close to almost out of reach. We can only hope that Dane County’s Clerk is equally as incompetent as Waukesha’s.

(Note: We actually don’t hope that. We wouldn’t wish that on anyone – or any county. We believe elected officials should do their jobs accurately and serve their constituents to the best of their abilities. Honestly, at this point we sincerely hope no other major errors are found.)

Second, there’s obviously going to be a recount. Regardless of Kloppenburg having to shell out cash for it or not , it’s going to happen because there’s a good reason for it and enough people want one. Even if you count the Waukesha ballots as legit and no other major changes happen, Prosser would win the election by only .5% of the vote. That’s close enough to ask for the votes to be re-counted. Kloppenburg should have waited until there was a recount to declare victory. We won’t be repeating her mistake – we’ll wait until the recount is complete to concede.

Third, there’s some questionable data coming in regarding if the vote count for the county is accurate. WisPolitics.com reported earlier in the day that “everything else doesn’t seem to be that busy.” (Full Disclosure: Our writer interned at WisPolitcs.com for two years.) The Swing State Project points out that doesn’t mesh well with the results, especially given the new votes. From their site:

“Officially, turnout (pre-Brookfield) was 42% (per county site) – 110643 votes. After Brookfield, it should roughly be 47%. That’s astonishingly high turnout for a spring election. The state average was 33% (Dane County – Madison which reported super-super-high turnout was 49%.) Turnout might have picked up over the afternoon/night, but that raises a major major warning bell for me. If there were so many voters, why didn’t anyone see them?”

Fourth, The Daily Kos points out a discrepancy with Nickoulas’ rationale behind the error. The only excuse she’s given so far is that she “forgot to hit save”. Even if this turns out to be true, that’s not a good enough answer, as there should have been checks in place to make sure that errors like that don’t happen. But the Daily Kos points out that’s the least of Nickoulas’ problems right now – her story doesn’t add up. Apparently, there is no save function for the program she was using – and if there was, her “forgetting to turn on/off her macros” would enable the auto-save, not disable it. We’d encourage our more technologically-savvy readers to give it a try and see if you can replicate the errors or not – but if this holds up, it definitely casts doubt on her story.

Again, we’d like to reiterate that there’s currently no evidence of any vote tampering or election fraud in Waukesha County. None. But, there’s enough questions being asked that don’t have good answers to warrant suspicion, and definitely enough to warrant a 2nd look at the ballots by an outside source. That’s all we’re saying.

And we’ve got plenty of people who agree with us, including our favorite Wisconsin politician, Rep. Peter Barca:

“The way Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus revealed her discovery of 14,300 previously uncounted votes raises disturbing questions, particularly in light of her past partisan history. She has been the subject of multiple complaints from other Waukesha officials on how she handles elections and keeps public information to herself outside the official county system where others can verify it.”

The Senate Minority Leader, Mark Miller, had this to say:

“It stretches the bounds of credibility to think that over 14,300 votes were somehow “overlooked” until two days after the election. Based on the partisan, political history of Ms. Nickolaus and the serious concerns that have been raised, by other Waukesha County officials, about the quality of her election administration and the possibility for fraud, an independent investigation of her conduct and the county’s election results is not just warranted but urgently demanded to protect the integrity of our electoral system in Wisconsin.”

We’ll close today’s post by just reminding everyone involved in this ongoing discussion to keep things civil. Bringing up Nickolaus’ job history and arguing that there should be a recount and an investigation is a great argument. Saying that she’s a fat cow and has committed election fraud, or harassing her via Facebook/LinkedIn is not okay (and definitely not progressive). And whatever you do, don’t feed the internet trolls.

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