Something rotten in Wisconsin: 7,000 votes ‘found’?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

On Wednesday, the AP reported "With 100 percent of precincts reporting," JoAnne Kloppenburg had 740,090 votes, or 50.01 percent, 204 more votes than David Prosser who had 739,886 votes, or 49.99 percent.

Now the unbelievable. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus claimed she failed to import the results from Brookfield City into her master tally that was reported to the press. David Prosser gained about 7,582 votes in Waukesha County, according to a summary statement from the board of canvassers on Thursday.

"The purpose of the canvass is to catch these kind of mistakes," Nickolaus said. She called it human error that is "common in this process." "I apologize." Prosser's huge gain comes after Waukesha County flub is caught – JSOnline.

Riiight. An entire city with all of its precincts were not imported to the Wisconsin Secretary of State on Wednesday morning. Now dontcha think the Secretary of State and the AP would have noticed a bunch of zeroes for precincts in this city and not reported 100 percent of precincts reporting? Something is rotten in Wisconsin.

Karoli at has done some troubling reporting on Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. UPDATED: Conservative Waukesha County Clerk "Finds" 7,000 Votes For Prosser:

In her press conference about a half-hour ago, Kathy Nickolaus claimed she failed to import the results from Brookfield City into her master tally that was reported to the press. The numbers she reported as an 'update' which gave Prosser 7,000 more votes were clearly reported in real time on election night.

As expected, Brookfield city voters ran up a good turnout in the state Supreme Court race and gave incumbent Justice David Prosser nearly 11,000 votes.

Unofficial, unaudited results showed 76 percent of city residents who voted picked Prosser, with 24 percent voting for challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.

The numbers were identical to the ones Nickolaus just reported. She claims they weren't imported into the spreadsheet, but if that were true, the discrepancy should have been 14,715 votes total.

Part of the problem is how she's using different numbers for the same conclusion. The difference between 14,715 and 3,456 is 7,403. Those would be the "extra." But in order to believe her, you have to assume the AP just let an entire town and a bunch of precincts stand at ZERO despite having reported in nearly 15,000 votes.

Very observant! Excellent catch. It sounds like Ms. Nickolaus is double counting.

But wait, there's much more about this colorful character, Kathy Nickolaus:

It seems that Kathy Nickolaus has a history with regard to questionable election practices:

The issue came to a head when Nickolaus removed the election results collection and tallying system from the county computer network this spring and installed it on standalone personal computers in her office. She has said they are backed up with redundant systems.

Director of Administration Norman A. Cummings said Nickolaus has been uncooperative with attempts to have information technologists review the system and confirm the backups.

He said he isn't interested in placing the system on the county network, but he wants to know whether the system is functional and secure and whether the county will have to replace equipment and programs in the next budget year – in time for the next presidential election.

"It is not a good idea to have one person in charge of everything," Cummings told the committee. "There should be someone who also reviews things. I'm not saying it should be IT. But there should be more accountability than there is now."

Nickolaus had asked for a postponement of the discussion because she had scheduled poll worker training before the matter was scheduled for committee action.

In several memos to the committee, she said she didn't have confidence that security wouldn't be breached with the county's information technology department.

She presented information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission that said voting systems should never be connected to a network not under the election official's control.

She also said she's running the most current election software certified – as required – by the state.

The only old equipment, she wrote, was a computer that collects results from local polling places by modem over the telephone lines.

Waukesha County is one of three or four counties that use that method.

Susie Madrak at has more. Something is Rotten in the State of Wisconsin: 7,500 New GOP Votes From 'Human Error'. Shouldn't DOJ Step In?:

What a surprise. Isn't it funny, how these mistakes invariably fall on the Republican side of the ticket? Via Huffington Post:

* * *

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."

 * * *

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.

Karoli adds:

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.

Nickolaus previously worked for a GOP caucus that was under the control of Justice David Prosser, who was speaker of the Assembly at the time and who now stands to benefit from the clerk's error. Corrected count puts Wis. justice in front.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is calling for a federal inquiry. Damn straight!

UPDATE: The Capitol Times of Madison has more on the scandal. Scandal in Fitzwalkerstan: Federal probe, full recount required in high court race:

The clerk, who has a history of secretive and erratic handling of election results, says she forgot to count the votes of Brookfield, the county’s second-largest city, in the total for Tuesday’s Supreme Court election.

Nickolaus claims that it was “human error” that caused her to “lose” the Brookfield results on her personal computer where she had secreted away the data. Yet, she apparently knew of the “mistake” for 29 hours before reporting it and then handed the information off to conservative bloggers and talk-radio personalities.

But what is most important to note are the numbers. With Walker’s candidate, Justice David Prosser, essentially tied with his independence-and-integrity challenger, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, it was all but certain that a recount would be required. And the final unofficial count, as tabulated Wednesday afternoon, put Kloppenburg ahead by several hundred votes, giving the challenger an advantage going into the count.

Then, two days after the election, Nickolaus found the 7,582 votes needed to put Prosser outside the zone of a state-funded official recount.

Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager says the developments require inquiry and explanation. She’s right.

The Kloppenburg campaign has demanded “a full explanation of how and why these 14,315 votes from an entire city were missed.” As part of the search for that explanation, the campaign plans to file open records requests for relevant documents.

* * *

That’s appropriate. But these requests do not go far enough.

* * *

The circumstance lends legitimacy to the call by the advocacy group Citizen Action of Wisconsin for “an immediate federal investigation and immediate impoundment of all computer equipment, ballots, and other relevant evidence needed to verify a fair vote count in Waukesha County.” Citizen Action says this investigation should include an accounting of all communications by “Kathy Nickolaus and anyone in the Waukesha clerk’s office with all outside actors, and all interested parties to the election dispute.”

It also demands a full recount, no matter what the ultimate margin of victory or defeat. Whether David Prosser or JoAnne Kloppenburg is elected, the only way that the high court will retain even a shred of credibility is if every ballot is recounted, every tabulation is reviewed and every citizen is certain that this election was legitimate.

0 responses to “Something rotten in Wisconsin: 7,000 votes ‘found’?

  1. Your revisionist history about the Minnesota senate vote is pure fantasy. Due to Minnesota’s model recount law and court challenges, the ballots were actually hand counted in public view – twice – and any challenges were decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court. There was full due process of law in Minnesota. Get over it.

    If your question is addressed to me, the answer is that I support publicly transparent hand count verification of all ballots in every election. Electronic voting without a paper ballot that can be verified should be prohibited by law. The persons responsible for running elections should not be elected officials as they are now in most states. They should be civil service employees serving under a nonpartisan election board. And yes, I would be more than happy to prosecute anyone found to have subverted the election process.

    The woman at the center of this controversy has a long history of incompetence if not malfeasance in office (she copped a plea deal to avoid prosecution). I am sure you would agree that this individual should not be serving in any capacity overseeing an election.

  2. Oh, for pity’s sake. The reason Al Franken is a U.S. Senator today is that there were at least twenty times this many instances of ballots found in the trunks of cars, in basements — votes just came pouring in left and right (in 100% of the cases, overwhelmingly in favor of Franken) until it added up to enough for a Franken win. I hope the GOP didn’t cheat; but if there’s reason to believe they did, there’s much more reason to believe the Democrats cheated in Minnesota in 2008. Did any of you folks go into the sackcloth and ashes over THAT fiasco?

    By all means, bring in investigators; but only if you’re ready to have investigations in EVERY close election, including the ones where YOUR guy has suspicious votes show up to save the day. I’m in favor of anyone, in any political party, going to prison for subverting fair elections. Are you guys?