Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Archive for the ‘Statewide judicial recount’ Category

Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial about recalls falls down on the job

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Folks, I am livid after reading this extremely biased, slanted staff editorial by the Wisconsin State Journal, one of the best-known papers in the state.  The WSJ has the nerve to say that recalls are bad because they extend the election cycle, and when, pray tell, will it end?

Well, I’ll tell you when it’ll end.  When we finally have some responsible people in government who stop behaving like Wisconsin is their personal fiefdom and that the rule of law need not apply.  As Grant Petty, writing for Madison’s alternative paper The Isthmus, wrote in his response to the WSJ editorial:

It was not simply that I disagreed with your position.  I disagree with other publications’ positions all the time without necessarily feeling insulted by them.  The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was that you had once again ignored or grossly oversimplified deep and important issues affecting Wisconsin while basing your position on superficial ones.

Petty goes on to say later on in the article that many things have caused the people of Wisconsin to recall their legislators (especially those of the Republican variety); these things include, but are not limited to:

  • The lack of transparency in government, for the rule of law, and for the constitutionality of our courts by our elected officials.
  • Creating new obstacles to voting in traditionally Democratic demographic groups (minorities, the poor, college students, elderly who don’t live in nursing homes)
  • What Petty calls “blatant pay-to-play favors” for major campaign donors (including the one railroad exec. who pled guilty to an illegal campaign contribution of $49,000 to Scott Walker)
  • A state Supreme Court that Petty calls a “rubber stamp” that was “bought and paid for by Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce,” a lobbying group that traditionally backs Republicans and conservative ideology. and
  • Last, but not least, the overarching inaccuracies of the vote going back at least to 2004 in Waukesha County; Petty describes several troubling aspects of the vote in the 2011 judicial race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg that changed the outcome of the election, starting with Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’s finding of 7500 votes over a day after the election had supposedly ended and continuing on with problems with the voting machines and electronic tape malfunctions that were never explored or explained (including one where the totals inexplicably read March 30, 2011, not April 5, 2011 as they should’ve; Barbara With, who observed the Waukesha County recount, explicitly made sure the Government Accountability Board knew about this and testified as to what she’d seen and heard and entered her picture of the faulty tape into evidence, yet the GAB, again inexplicably, refused to believe or accept this and left this testimony out of the official record).

Note that all of this — all — is why most people in Wisconsin, including a sizable minority of Walker’s own party, remains livid regarding the conduct of our current crop of public officials (mostly the recently-elected Walker and many of the Republican officeholders who are being recalled, including State Senator Alberta Darling).  Petty said it extremely well, and I only wish that I’d have written this summation myself; this truly is why Wisconsin is upset and has recalled an unprecedented number of people (remember, before this year, only four people had ever been forced to run in recall elections, with two of them holding their seats while the other two, including my former Republican state Senator George Petak, R-Racine, lost).

As to why the WSJ decided to write a slanted, utterly biased editorial?  Who knows?  But I do know that whenever I read their paper online in the future, I will keep their partisan slant in mind and judge their reportage accordingly.

Other than that, I agree with Petty’s contention that we should be far more concerned with out-and-out election fraud in this state because we’ve apparently had problems now in Waukesha County since 2004 and nothing, but nothing, has been done about them and apparently nothing, but nothing, is going to be done about them because apparently the political powers who now run the state (all three branches of government are run by Republicans, remember, as I’ve stated before) like it the way it is even though most of the rest of us emphatically do not.

And that, my friends, is not only sad.  It’s shameful, and should not be tolerated in what we so euphemistically call “a democratic state.”

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:

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.