UPDATE: Citizen Action of Wisconsin is calling for a federal inquiry.
What a surprise. Isn't it funny, how these mistakes invariably fall on the Republican side of the ticket? Via Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON -- In a dramatic turn of events on Thursday, the Waukesha County clerk announced that the vote total announced for Tuesday's Wisconsin Supreme Court race had been mistaken -- and that the corrected numbers changed the outcome of the entire election.
There were 3,456 missing votes for Democratic-backed challenger Kathleen Kloppenburg and 11,059 for incumbent GOP-backed Justice David Prosser. Kloppenburg has previously been beating Prosser by just 200 votes of the roughly 1.5 million cast statewide. The new total puts Prosser on a significant path to victory, about 7,500 votes ahead of Kloppenburg.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced the news in a press conference at 5:30 p.m. local time, sounding nervous and, at times, on the verge of tears. She insisted that there was no foul play in the results and blamed the mess on her own "human error."
Nickolaus cited several reasons for the discrepancies between Tuesday night's unofficial vote totals and the new numbers. In the city of New Berlin, the total for one ward was recorded as 37 votes for Prosser, but it was actually 237, she said. In the town of Lisbon, a "typing error" resulted in both candidates losing votes. The most significant error, however, occurred in the city of Brookfield.
"The spreadsheet from Brookfield was imported into a database that was provided by the Government Accountability Board, but it inadvertently was not saved," Nickolaus said. "As a result, when I ran the report to show the aggregate numbers that were collected from all the municipalities, I assumed that the city of Brookfield was included. It was not. The city of Brookfield cast 14,315 votes on April 5 -- 10,859 votes went for Justice David Prosser, 3,456 went for JoAnne Kloppenburg."
"It is important to stress that this is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found," she added. "This is human error, which I apologize for -- which is common in this process."
The existence of the missing votes was first reported at National Review Online by Christian Schneider, a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.
Questions were immediately raised about the new announcement. As Schneider wrote, prior to the election, Nickolaus "was heavily criticized for her decision to keep the county results on anantiquated personal computer, rather than upgrade to a new data system being utilized statewide."
Added Schneider: "Nickolaus cited security concerns for keeping the data herself -- yet when she reported the data, it did not include the City of Brookfield, whose residents cast nearly 14,000 votes.
"The Waukesha County Board also heavily criticized the clerk after she brushed aside their recommendations for improving election security. At one point during a hearing in January, board chairman Jim Dwyer grew exasperated with Nickolaus and said, "There really is nothing funny about this, Kathy. Don't sit there and grin when I'm explaining what this is about."
"Wisconsin deserves elections that are fair, clean and transparent," said Scot Ross, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. "There is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding the Waukesha County Clerk and there remain unanswered questions."
Neither the campaigns nor the Democratic and Republican parties in the state were immediately available for comment. An official recount may be sought as early as next week.
And why, just by coincidence, this very scenario was something Gov. Scott Walker warned against the day before -- but he was only worried about it coming from the other side!
Kloppenburg declared victory on the basis of a final statewide tally which showed her separated from Justice David Prosser by just 204 votes. “The numbers show that we won, and we are gratified to have that victory in hand,” she said. The victory is not quite in Kloppenburg’s grasp, however.
A recount could begin as soon as next week. “As long as the rules are clear, as long as there aren’t ballots somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before, things of that nature, as long as everything’s above board, I think that’s fair,” said Walker.
And wouldn't you know? Back in 2002, this very same Republican clerk played a dubious role -- obtaining immunity from prosecution in exchange for her cooperation -- in an investigation into illegal political activity:
WAUKESHA -- A candidate for Waukesha County clerk is one of several caucus workers who was granted immunity from prosecution in the criminal investigation into illegal campaigning on state time.
Kathy Nickolaus, 42, a Republican, said she hopes voters will accept her role in the ongoing scandal -- but she can't talk about it.
"I can't really say anything about the probe," she said. "I was offered immunity and I took it."
Nickolaus, who lives near Oconomowoc, worked for 13 years as a data analyst and computer specialist for the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups now under scrutiny.
District attorneys are investigating whether caucus employees did illegal political work on state time.
Nickolaus resigned from her state job May 10 and launched a campaign for county clerk. She said she is under orders not to say anything about the investigation.
"I expected this to come out, and I expected to get questions," she said. "I believe in open and accountable government."
But some people said they are concerned about Nickolaus' history, because the county clerk oversees elections.
Republican opponent Kathy Milbrath-Karalewitz, 41, the Menomonee Falls village clerk, said her decision to enter the race was solidified when she heard a former state caucus worker with no clerk experience wanted the job.
"I don't think voters want that today," she said. "They want someone who's honest and up front."
Nickolaus has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and her campaign is drawing support from some high-profile Republicans in Waukesha County.
Something stinks to high heaven in Wisconsin. This may take the Justice Department to clean this up.
There's more. In 2006, she had some difficulty with absentee ballots. In 2006 again, we have her using the exact same excuse for why she accidentally reported one candidate ahead when the other one really was. Seems she moved data into the wrong column. We've heard that one before, haven't we? In 2007 she blamed touch screen voting machines for flipping a school board election result. The margin? One vote.
In 2004, she had another "oopsie moment" and sent out sample ballots instructing voters to vote for her favorite candidate. Also in 2004, incorrect ballots went to voters in two different districts, so that 83 votes were cast for the wrong candidates. And it seems that close races are something common in Waukesha County.
But fear not. Our brave Waukesha County Clerk is a passionate proponent of Voter ID laws and appears to be an ardent pro-lifer. I imagine from the description in that post that she would be heartbroken to see Wisconsin's Supreme Court tilt any way but hard right.
Oh, also? Kathy Nickolaus was a staffer for...wait for it...David Prosser.