The Brad Blog: WI’s Supreme Election Debacle (And What We Should, But Probably Won’t, Learn From It)

April 8, 2011- Here is an update, along with some important thoughts on the WI Supreme Court election debacle which exploded out of Waukesha County yesterday, plunging that important election into utter disarray — an election seen by many as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker and the state GOP's legislating away many of the rights of state citizens to collectively bargain.

I am writing quickly as I scramble, once again to get to the studio on time to finish up my week tonight as guest host of the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show. I will, of course, speak again about these matters in greater detail on air this evening. So please forgive any typos or lack of clarity in the following for now.

First, some of the latest related news of note, and then some quick thoughts on this entire fine mess.

The campaign of Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, now said to be trailing incumbent Justice David Prosser by some 7,500 votes, announced their intention last night to file an open records request "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."

That's good. In addition, they ought to apply for an immediate court order for the quarantine, sequestration, and confiscation of all ballots, electronic voting systems (optical-scanners, Direct Recording Electronic machines, tabulators, etc), memory cards, and the computer systems of County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus as well, in hopes of assuring a complete, independent, transparent forensic investigation of the entire election by an independent party.

At the same time, the State Government Accountability Board (GAB) has announced today they are "dispatching officials to the Waukesha County Clerk's Office Friday afternoon to review procedures used in tallying results of Tuesday's Supreme Court election."

That's good too, and if they have the authority to confiscate the election materials as described above, they should exercise it immediately as well. Nickolaus should no longer be allowed anywhere near this election (or, frankly, any other, given her years of reckless behavior in her role as County Clerk.)

Others, including Citizen Action of Wisconsin, have called for a full federal investigation into "irregularities" in Waukesha County's vote-counting system. That would be both welcome and appropriate as well in this case.

With all of that said, and with full recognition of the absolutely shameful way the Right would have behaved had 14,000+ votes suddenly "appeared" in a Democratic stronghold, as they did in the heavily Republican Waukesha enclave (and as they had already begun to do prior to yesterday's stunning announcement, as can be seen in the Fox "News" appearance yesterday of the always shamefully irresponsible liar John Fund), there are reasons to regard the "new" numbers announced yesterday as "legitimate." Or, at least as "legitimate" as any of the other results announced based on ballots counted only by oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer systems in the state. (See our detailed explanation about those systems, and the very serious concerns about them, as we published on Wednesday, when the unofficial results had the race at a 204 vote margin.)

Here's why I feel that way. (Though, mind you, how I feel has nothing to do with what should or shouldn't be done here to restore integrity and appropriate oversight to the woeful election system in place in Waukesha. To be sure, there are many remaining questions that demand answers at this time in both Waukesha and elsewhere in the state.)…

On Tuesday night (just after midnight Wednesday morning), Lisa Sink of the Brookfield Patch posted the unofficial results from city of Brookfield. The results reported that night from Brookfield — 10,859 for Prosser, 3456 for Kloppenburg — are identical to the "new" numbers revealed by the county's Nickolaus at her remarkable press conference last night.

That "evidence" would seem to be as good as any that the "new" numbers Nickolaus offered yesterday were not simply pulled out of thin air — at least any more than any of the other unverified-by-human results across the state are at this hour.

I contacted Sink to confirm that, in fact, that article, dated April 6 (though not time-stamped), had been published prior to yesterday's announcement. She wrote back to confirm that indeed they had. As she wrote, in part:

I got these results on election night at City Hall from the City clerk's office, typed it up at City Hall and posted this story at 12:24 a.m. That's why it says April 6. I didn't get any results from the county or AP because I only needed Brookfield city votes.

What was or was not included in the countywide total Nickolaus gave to AP on election night, I have no idea. Only Nickolaus and maybe AP have info on that.

But these numbers have indeed always been Brookfield's vote tally since shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night.

Sink also noted the problems that both the county and the media have had with Nickolaus' refusal to include municipal-level results on the county's web site, making it nearly impossible to oversee the accuracy of election night numbers.

"She only puts countywide totals," Sink told me. "There are I believe 36 or 37 municipalities in Waukesha County."


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