April 8, 2011
Despite the picture which has been painted by unions, progressives, the Democratic Party and the mainstream media of an electorate which overwhelmingly supports the unions in their epic battle with Governor Scott Walker over collective bargaining privileges, the election upon which the left has hung the last of their hopes has been a crushing defeat. In one explosive stroke Thursday, the clerk in a strongly Republican county tilted the tight Supreme Court race in favor of Justice David Prosser by recovering thousands of votes which had not been previously counted. The election, which had looked too close to call, is now a solid Republican victory.
This supreme court election is an election upon which the left pinned all of their hopes. It proves unequivocally, that the picture which has been painted by liberals, unions, Democrats and their minions in the mainstream media has clearly misrepresented the truth. They have been methodically trying to show that the voters of Wisconsin overwhelmingly support the unions and collective bargaining. This election exposes their position and proves that the voters of Wisconsin support Governor Scott Walker and his noble efforts to reign in the power of public employee unions while trying to restore fiscal sanity to Wisconsin. Thus, I am once again reminded why I don’t believe the liberal media.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to save on her computer and then report 14,315 votes in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial total she released after Tuesday’s election. With other smaller errors in Waukesha County, Prosser gained 7,582 votes over his challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, leaving the sitting justice significantly ahead for now amid ongoing official counting.
“I’m thankful that this error was caught early in the process. This is not a case of extra ballots being found. This is human error which I apologize for,” Nickolaus said, her voice wavering as she spoke to reporters.
The figures are still far from final in a race that had previously seemed almost certain to see a statewide recount. Around the state, elections officials Thursday were tweaking unofficial results from the day before that had put Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general, ahead of Prosser by a razor-thin 204 votes.
But nothing compared to Brookfield, where the new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg.
“I’m encouraged by the various reports from the county canvasses,” Prosser said in a statement. “We’ve always maintained faith in the voters and trust the election officials involved in the canvassing will reaffirm the lead we’ve taken.”
But Kloppenburg supporters reacted with alarm, as the left always does, pointing out that Nickolaus had worked in the Assembly Republican caucus during the time that Prosser, a former Republican lawmaker, served as the Assembly speaker and that Nickolaus also had faced questions about her handling of elections as clerk. Be assured that Democrats are already seeking a way to litigate victory from the jaws of defeat.
“Wisconsin voters as well as the Kloppenburg (campaign) deserve a full explanation of how and why these 14,000 votes from an entire city were missed. To that end, we will be filing open records requests for all relevant documentation related to the reporting of election results in Waukesha County, as well as to the discovery and reporting of the errors announced by the county,” Kloppenburg campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said in a statement.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) raised the possibility of an independent investigation over the recovery of the votes.
“This is a serious breach of election procedure,” he said. “We’re going to look further. She waited 24 hours to work this. And she waited until after she verified the results, making it that much more difficult to challenge and verify the results.”
But 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.”
Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas, who sat in on Nickolaus’ news conference, said voters can be confident in the results because “all the votes are in that office. If anyone wants to look at them and verify, they can.”
Kristine Schmidt, the clerk in the city of Brookfield, said in a separate interview that she shared the results with the news media on election night.
She said she also sent the results twice to the county. After the first results were sent she said the county requested a second set of data because they wanted results tabulated in a certain format with fewer columns.
“We sent it to the county and called the county to make sure they got it,” Schmidt said.
Nickolaus explained that when she got Brookfield’s results the second time in the correct format, she failed to save it. So when she totaled the results for the unofficial final report Tuesday, Brookfield’s total was not included and she didn’t realize it.
She discovered the error Wednesday when she transferred her data to a state computer program for the canvassers’ review. Brookfield’s results showed a zero. The Board of Canvassers started its work at noon Wednesday, but Nickolaus said she didn’t report the major blunder because everything had to be verified first.
Nickolaus said the problem had nothing to do with her election system, which has been criticized as outdated. Her election operation was the subject of a county audit last year after complaints were leveled that she was not cooperative with information technology specialists who wanted to check the system’s integrity and backup.
The audit concluded that while the clerk’s system generally complies with state and federal guidelines and accuracy of election totals was not at issue, Nickolaus should improve security and backup procedures.
Although it was not among the audit recommendations, Nickolaus’ decision to no longer report municipal election results separately on election night, as many other county clerks do, has raised questions. Nor does she show in the running totals throughout election night what proportion of the voting units are included in the tallies.
Could the error have been spotted sooner had municipal results also been on her website? Nickolaus would not make herself available after the news conference to answer questions.
Schmidt, the Brookfield clerk, said she watched the news conference. Does she buy Nickolaus’ explanation?
“Yeah, I do. I understand those kinds of things can happen,” she said, adding, “I was disappointed I was not informed. I should not have been informed through the news agencies, kind as you people all are.”
She said her lack of information left her and the city open to unwarranted criticism. She said if the municipal results had been individually shown on the county clerk’s website, the error may have been spotted. The state’s top elections administrator said he was surprised that such a large mistake had been made but also said it was not entirely unprecedented.
“This emphasizes the need when counties are releasing information to the press on election night that they double check their data,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board. Kennedy said the state would review Nickolaus’s figures but that no ballots from the county would be examined unless and until there is a recount. “We will go back and check her numbers and all of the numbers she made in our system,” he said.
Regardless of how the unions, the left and the media try to spin the results, this election is a huge victory for the people of Wisconsin. And Governor Scott Walker.