April 20, 2011- Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg requested Wednesday a statewide recount – the first in 22 years – to check the results in the April 5 election for state Supreme Court race she lost to Justice David Prosser, the Government Accountability Board said.
The official tally shows Kloppenburg lost to Prosser by 7,316 votes – less than 0.5% of the 1.5 million votes cast.
Kloppenburg also called on the board to appoint a special investigator to probe the "actions and words" of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.
The election initially appeared much closer, with Kloppenburg winning by 204 votes.
But in Waukesha County, it was Nickolaus' election night vote reporting error and correction two days later that flipped the apparent win from Kloppenburg to Prosser by more than 7,000 votes. Nickolaus announced she had failed to include in her initial, unofficial tally the 14,315 votes from the City of Brookfield.
State elections officials scoured her canvass report and the April 5 election results over four days during an on-site investigation. On Tuesday, the Government Accountability Board issued a report saying except for a few "anomalies," the canvass report and municipal election returns were consistent so no revisions in the canvass were needed. The board intends to issue a report within 60 days on other questions about Nickolaus' elections operation.
Kloppenburg said an investigation of the Waukesha County clerk was necessary and that something must be done so that "real change" comes to election practices and procedures in Waukesha County.
Nickolaus was out of the office Wednesday afternoon and unavailable for comment.
A staff member in the clerk's office said Nickolaus left a statement that said the clerk "has been and will continue to be cooperative" with the Government Accountability Board "throughout this entire process."
Ellen Nowak, chief of staff for Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas, said the county would cooperate fully with the Government Accountability Board and both campaigns and that the process would be "transparent."
She called Kloppenburg's request for a special investigator to look into Nickolaus premature. Kloppenburg "certainly has the right to ask," Nowak said. But she added that the Government Accountability Board, an independent state agency, already is conducting an investigation into Nickolaus and her procedures.
"Those results aren't out yet," Nowak said.
"The Government Accountability Board is prepared to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for Supreme Court Justice, as requested by the Kloppenburg campaign today. We have been preparing for a recount since Election Night. We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. We anticipate the recount will begin the week of April 25, and plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks on Monday afternoon," Kevin Kennedy, the board's director, said in a statement.
Kloppenburg's decision to seek a recount comes as the Government Accountability Board is preparing to deal with as many as 16 recall petitions.