April 7, 2011- 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 JoAnne 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."