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Statewide Recount in Judicial Race ends today; Waukesha County’s vote total is in

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Today, the necessary recount for the April 5, 2011 Wisconsin state Supreme Court judicial race has ended as Waukesha County has finally finished recounting the votes.  David Prosser still won Waukesha County with a similar vote total to his previous, though JoAnne Kloppenburg picked up 310 votes statewide; as previously written here, and elsewhere, Ms. Kloppenburg won the rest of the state of Wisconsin (though she didn’t win every county, overall, she was the winner) while she lost, and lost big, in the reddest Republican county in the state, Waukesha County.

This means that unofficially David Prosser has won the election by just over 7,000 votes according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Please see this article for further details:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/122364728.html

Here’s a relevant quote:

Waukesha County finished its recount Friday, two weeks after the state’s other 71 counties completed theirs. The county next was to deliver its totals to the state Government Accountability Board.

In Waukesha County, the results showed both candidates gaining votes – 68 more for Prosser, 19 more for Kloppenburg – yielding a net gain of 49 votes for the incumbent.

The board, which oversees state elections, plans to certify the totals on Monday, board attorney Mike Haas said. Kloppenburg would have until May 31 to file a lawsuit over the results.

So there it is; because of repeated and extensive problems in Waukesha County, including torn bags, bags without proper numbers (poll workers write totals and usually then bags are supposed to be left undisturbed until/unless there is a statewide recount), and ballots left in strange places (the worst of these issues wasn’t in Waukesha; it instead was in Verona, which is in Dane County — there, ballots were left out of a bag and on a table, reason unknown), the vote totals reported in Waukesha County remain suspect.  While there also were problems in other areas in the state, Waukesha County’s violations were by far the most egregious, starting with County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’s problems in getting the proper vote total for Brookfield notated into her computer until 36 hours after the April 5, 2011 election ended.

I don’t know what Ms. Kloppenburg and her campaign manager, Melissa Mulliken, are going to do.  But if the problems in Waukesha are as bad as I have been led to believe (I am a member of a group called Election Integrity, which has been giving unofficial first-hand results from observers in Waukesha County and elsewhere), they may indeed file suit and I wouldn’t blame them at all.

Everyone wants to believe that elections are fair and are conducted on the “up-and-up.”  But we’ve found since Nickolaus’s eleventh-hour revelation that there have been severe and systemic problems in Waukesha County for years, with nothing whatsoever having been done about it for whatever reason.  This has made me seriously question whether or not we really do have fair elections in Wisconsin despite observing on April 27, 2011 in Racine, Wisconsin for the Kloppenburg campaign and believing that Racine County’s elections, themselves, have been conducted fairly.  (Note if David Prosser’s folks had asked me to observe for them, I would’ve done it, though I proudly cast my vote for Ms. Kloppenburg in the April 5, 2011 election.  I firmly believe Ms. Kloppenburg’s credentials, working for both Republican and Democratic Governors as one of the state Assistant Attorneys-General, are outstanding, and I believe that if she is ever freely and fairly elected in Wisconsin, she will make an outstanding Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.)

The whole question now is, has whatever happened in Waukesha County tainted this entire election?  (In my mind, that answer is a clear “yes,” but I don’t know how that would work in court.)  And have there been enough problems in Waukesha County to warrant tossing out that entire county’s votes and making them vote again?  Because that possibly would be the fairest way to go about it, with many observers in every polling place in the county, to make absolutely sure that every legitimate vote (for whomever) is counted properly.  And Kathy Nickolaus, if she hasn’t resigned or been recalled by then, should play no part in this, just as she played no part in the state-wide recount . . . her job performance has been proven to be amazingly weak — and I don’t say that lightly — and she should count herself extremely lucky to have been gainfully employed, much less making $67,000 a year, considering how much she appears to have screwed up during her tenure on the job.

I believe this recount was a mandatory one — the only thing the state could do to restore any faith in free and fair elections — and I know the problems in Waukesha County have been proven to be extensive on a variety of counts.  The only thing now is to see how it plays out, and I promise you, I will stay on this story and post updates as appropriate.

Brewers win, 4-3, as Greinke pitches well; recount update

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Folks, tonight I’m glad to be a Milwaukee Brewers fan.  Zack Greinke pitched well in his first appearance at Miller Park, going six innings, giving up two runs with no walks and getting nine strikeouts.  This excellent performance, along with some unusually fine defense, was why the Brewers won tonight over the San Diego Padres, 4-3. 

Note that the much-maligned of late bullpen pitched reasonably well also, with LaTroy Hawkins pitching a scoreless seventh, Kameron Loe giving up a run in the 8th due to a run scoring while a double play was in the process of being made, then John Axford picked up his sixth save by pitching a scoreless ninth.

Here’s a link to more about the game from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:  http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/121536504.html

As for tonight’s mandatory recount in the Wisconsin state Supreme Court election, held on 4/5/2011, a judge allowed Waukesha County two and a half more weeks to get its entire count done.  But as Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pointed out, JoAnne Kloppenburg has an uphill battle on her hands if she’s to win this recount with only Waukesha County remaining as it is known to be the “reddest” Republican county in the entire state.

Here’s the link to his story dated today, May 9, 2011: 

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121496219.html

And a relevant quote from Mr. Gilbert:

With the recount in the April 5 Supreme Court race now complete in every county but Waukesha, JoAnne Kloppenburg has sliced a mere 355 votes off David Prosser’s lead of 7,316 votes, underscoring the extreme odds against Kloppenburg emerging victorious in the fiercely contested judicial contest.

In effect, Kloppenburg would have to gain 6,962 votes in one county – Waukesha – after gaining a tiny fraction of that in the recount of all the state’s other counties.

In those 71 counties recounted so far, Kloppenburg has made a net pick-up of one vote for every 3,873 votes cast.

In Waukesha County, she would have to make a net pick-up of one vote for every 18 votes cast.

And that math actually understates the improbability of a successful outcome for Kloppenburg because about 30% of Waukesha County has already completed the recount process. So far, there’s a net gain of 18 votes for Prosser.

But here’s the main reason why Kloppenburg had to pursue the recount, IMO:

Without taking Waukesha County into account, Kloppenburg leads in the other 71 counties by 712,910 to 660,366, for a margin of 52,544 votes.

So you see how close this election was, state-wide, right?

Here’s the rub:

But based on the election canvass, Prosser carried Waukesha County by 59,505 votes out of a total of 125,021 votes cast.

The problem is, the vote total is in question all because of Kathy Nickolaus’s actions not just in finally figuring out she hadn’t counted the Brookfield tally until a day and a half after the election had ended (and everyone in the state save the folks in Brookfield who knew their vote totals weren’t properly reflected in the count thought JoAnne Kloppenburg had won by about 200 votes), but in several previous elections.

As I’ve said before, there are problems in Waukesha County that go back not just to 2008, but actually to 2004.  (See this link for further details:  https://elfyverse.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/recount-necessary-for-one-waukesha-county-voting-irregularities-go-back-to-2004/)  Seven years ago, there were problems.  Again, five years ago, there were problems.  Then three years ago, there were more problems, yet nothing was ever done by the Government Accountability Board, the Wisconsin state Senate or Assembly (or both), or anyone else, because despite all these systematic problems, apparently no one was paying attention.

If this recount has done nothing else, it has at least assured me that the voters of Wisconsin will be paying attention to Waukesha County for a long, long time to come.  And that the way Waukesha County conducts their future elections had best be a whole lot better — more ethical, above-board, understandable, comprehensible, and transparent — than they have for the past seven years.  Minimum.

Otherwise, as I’ve said before, we in Wisconsin will have no faith at all that our elections mean anything at all.

Mandatory Judicial Recount in WI Continues– Waukesha County will not hit 5/9/11 deadline

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The mandatory recount continues in Wisconsin with the April 5, 2011 judicial race between incumbent David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg continuing to be properly recounted due to the less than 1/2 percent difference in their vote totals.  All counties save Waukesha — the really big problem county for reasons I’ve detailed in several previous posts — will be finished by tomorrow, May 9, 2011, which was the date the Government Accountability Board had set for the completion of the mandatory recount.  But Waukesha County — the biggest problem county in the state — will not.

What a surprise!

Here’s a story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel regarding all this, available at http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121414194.html:

A relevant quote:

All counties with the exception of Waukesha County are expected to complete the recount of the state Supreme Court election by the 5 p.m. Monday deadline, the Government Accountability Board said late Friday afternoon.

Waukesha County officials earlier in the week informed the board that the hand recount would not be completed by the deadline and the board will seek a court extension of the deadline on Monday.

Kevin Kennedy, accountability board director, said the court hearing on the extension for Waukesha County is scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday in Dane County Circuit Court.

Ellen Nowak, chief of staff to Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas, said Friday officials don’t know yet how much more time will be needed to complete the recount.

As of late Friday, the recount was only about 30% complete in Waukesha County, Nowak said.

Note that the date of this article was May 6, 2011 — this past Friday evening — and that as of that time, only 30% of Waukesha County was counted.  This is not acceptable; they’ve had the same amount of time as everyone else (starting a week and a half ago on Wednesday, April 27, 2011) and yet they haven’t even counted 30% of the ballots yet?

Considering both Dane and Milwaukee Counties are much bigger, population-wise (thus more ballots were used in both counties than Waukesha), and considering there were at least two counties (Wausau County and Fond du Lac County) which actually ran out of ballots because so many people came out to vote (it would’ve been understandable had those two smaller counties needed more time), it is absolutely ridiculous that only 30% of Waukesha County’s vote total has been counted. 

Yet it’s the truth.

I realize that there have been multiple problems in Waukesha County: bags with ballots have been improperly sealed — bags are supposed to be sealed up completely between voting day and a recount, and yet they weren’t.  In some cases, the wrong numbers were on the bags — every ballot bag must have a number, and they must match the poll count from the poll workers, and yet, they haven’t in Waukesha County many, many times already.  And quite a few ballots have been objected to because they look odd or don’t match the vote totals or they just don’t make any sense — which is part of the reason the vote count has been so slow, but isn’t the only reason, for certain.

I know observers from both the Prosser and Kloppenburg camps will be out in force in Waukesha County all week long.   And that does slow things down — yet it’s the only way we have to make sure this election was a fair one.  An ethical one.   One that truly reflects the will of the Wisconsin voters who went out to vote on 4/5/2011.

I believe we can do better than this and we must do better than this in Wisconsin.  Which is why I’ve observed the recount (a bit) in Racine and why I will once again go out to observe in Waukesha if all goes well sometime this week — because I am not convinced that what happened in Waukesha County, where their County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus found ballots one and a half days after the election had concluded (note this is solely the fault of Kathy Nickolaus, not the folks in Brookfield who had been telling her for the day and a half that their votes hadn’t been counted), was right.  I’m sure Brookfield’s totals will be proven out — but I think something else happened there in that day and a half that wasn’t right and that the recount volunteers (either on the canvassing board or the observers themselves) will find it.

We may be heading to a state-wide re-vote, all because Kathy Nickolaus didn’t do her job correctly in Waukesha County.  But whether we are or aren’t, at this point we must make sure that any future election, in Waukesha County or anywhere else, is conducted fairly, properly, and impartially.

Otherwise, elections are meaningless, and we may as well not even bother going out to vote.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Mandatory Recount Starts Tomorrow — and Kathy Nickolaus Recuses Herself in Waukesha County

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Folks, the biggest thing to hit Wisconsin politics in twenty-two years starts tomorrow — the mandatory recount for the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court between challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent Justice David Prosser.  Prosser, as you might recall from my previous blog posts, is a former Republican Speaker of the Assembly, and though judges are officially non-partisan, JoAnne Kloppenburg was seen as an independent or perhaps as a left-leaning potential jurist (though truly none of us know what she’ll do, she seems honest and fair-minded, and potentially a very good judge).

Though I should have more to say on this tomorrow, right now I have one piece of news to report and it’s unexpected — it’s that Kathy Nickolaus, the under-fire County Clerk of Waukesha County, has recused herself from the upcoming proceedings.  Nickolaus gained national fame (or infamy, take your pick) when she realized, a day and a half late, that she hadn’t properly counted Brookfield’s 14,000 votes, throwing the race to Prosser by 7,000 votes due to the pattern of votes in Brookfield.  Nickolaus claimed she’d “not hit the save button” and blamed her failure to count Brookfield on “human error,” yet there have been multitudinous errors in Waukesha County for years (please see previous blogs on the subject, especially this one:  https://elfyverse.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/recount-necessary-for-one-waukesha-county-voting-irregularities-go-back-to-2004/) and Nickolaus has always blamed “human error.”

Here’s the story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/120739214.html

And a quote:

Nickolaus took herself out of the recount process, Nowak said, to avoid the appearance of conflict or to give the candidates the ability to raise objections about her performance.

Nickolaus sent out communications to local clerks who had to provide additional materials for the recount, which starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Nickolaus will still be present for the recount as the county clerk, Nowak said. She will not serve on the Canvass Board, which includes Democrat Ramona Kitzinger and Republican Pat Karcher.

As a result of Nickolaus’ election-night reporting error, the Government Accountability Board investigated her canvass and her business practices. Last week, the board said that despite some anomalies, the canvass was consistent with results reported by local municipal clerks.

Note that instead of Nickolaus, two others will be observing the mandatory recount in Waukesha county, these being retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Mawdsley and a retired state elections official, Barb Hansen from the Town of Delafield, who should be able to assist Mawdsley during the recount proceedings.

I am glad the recount is proceeding and look forward to more updates as the week progresses.

Oh, and one other update — the Committee to Recall sitting Republican state Senator Robert Cowles (from Green Bay) has announced they have enough signatures to force a recall election, but will turn in their signatures to the Government Accountability Board on Thursday (I’m assuming this is due to the mandatory recount for the judicial race) in Madison.  Here’s a link:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/26/970286/-Wisconsin-Democrats-to-file-sixth-recall-petition-against-GOP-state-Senator?amp&amp

So the recall efforts continue to progress as well.