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Waukeshocker
April 7, 2011 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Waukeshocker! After Tuesday's painfully close, still undecided Supreme Court race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and David Prosser, Republicans warned that partisan election officials in certain municipalities might conveniently find bushels of extra uncounted votes after the fact. It has come to pass -- but the extra votes were found in deep-red Waukesha County, represnting the entire city of Brookfield, and give GOP favorite David Prosser a probably insurmountable 50.2%/48.8% lead. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus's policy of storing election returns on a personal computer in her office with no backup was criticized last August. Nate Silver says the new numbers look reasonable.
posted by escabeche (255 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Inexcusable. I can only hope that this adds even more fuel to the recall fire.
posted by ofthestrait at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


conveniently find bushels of extra uncounted votes after the fact

Wait, is there a rigged election subtext here, or is this just really strange wording?
posted by reductiondesign at 4:05 PM on April 7, 2011


I don't believe it for a second.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2011


I guess I should've stopped by the liquor store on the way home from work after all.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:09 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, it doesn't matter if the numbers look reasonable; there needs to be an unimpeachable chain of custody of the votes.

Because without that, it's impossible to to tell if the numbers represent the will of the people or the whim of Kathy Nickolaus.

During teh count, for several hours Kathy Nickolaus stopped releasing any information, then she released a surge for Prosser. Then two days later she finds 7000 more votes.

It doesn't matter if these are legit or not; this woman needs to replaced as clerk, and if possible prosecuted.
posted by orthogonality at 4:09 PM on April 7, 2011 [56 favorites]


Kathy Nickolaus is also the former president of the Republican Women of Waukesha County.
posted by thanotopsis at 4:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I cite my "don't mistake incompetence for malice" policy. It sounds like Nickolaus is entirely incompetent, which is to say a Republican.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:12 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, it doesn't matter if the numbers look reasonable; there needs to be an unimpeachable chain of custody of the votes.

Exactly. These are probably fully legit, but it just shows how screwed up elections are in this country that it's even possible.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kathy Nickolaus was granted immunity in a criminal investigation 10 years ago into illegal campaigning on state time:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:D0h0JyCaQlcJ:www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-86730728.html+republican+caucus+scandal+wisconsin+%22kathy+nickolaus%22&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com
posted by fatbird at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shit. Here's a nicer link: Google Cache
posted by fatbird at 4:15 PM on April 7, 2011


As I understand it, there are actual paper ballots to recount if necessary and the error was just in failing to report the count. Fraud seems unlikely.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2011


I cite my "don't mistake incompetence for malice" policy.

In some cases, malice and incompetence are basically equivalent. You know, because a doctor who doesn't know what they're doing shouldn't be doing surgery, or a police officer who can't tell an armed maniac from an 8 year old child running away before shooting, yeah, at that point, it's equivalent.

When you decide to take up the role of administering a critical part of government, there's things that can slide, and there's things that can't.

A few thousand votes sure as hell ain't it.
posted by yeloson at 4:17 PM on April 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I took the afternoon off because I wasn't feeling well, and this is what I woke up to. Fuck.
posted by desjardins at 4:17 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, is there a rigged election subtext here, or is this just really strange wording?

The subtext is that I'm suggesting you imagine the fecal tsunami that would have ensued if this had happened in Milwaukee.
posted by escabeche at 4:18 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I caught part of her news conference and heard Access 2007 mentioned. I'm very familiar with the program - anyone know more technical details of what happened? She mentioned she "forgot to hit save" - but records are automatically saved in Access (depending on what you're doing)...
posted by desjardins at 4:20 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from corruption.
posted by ofthestrait at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


For Chicago-area folks, Brookfield basically = Schaumburg.
posted by desjardins at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems to be yet another, older incident involving Nickolaus.
posted by kenko at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2011


Well, nobody's going to argue that a recount is unnecessary now. Nickolaus comes from a career as a computer specialist, which indicates responsibility for a higher level of technical competence than one might expect from someone with a less technical background. <editorializing> For example, you would expect her to understand why carrying the results around on her personal computer might be frowned upon. </editorializing>
posted by yomimono at 4:27 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


yeah.. there is also a number of stories about Waukesha voters having to use pencils to fill out their ballots.
posted by edgeways at 4:28 PM on April 7, 2011


edgeways: umm.. I'm in Milwaukee and we used pencils - that's what they give you.
posted by desjardins at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is Madison they give us these fancy things called "pens"
posted by thanotopsis at 4:30 PM on April 7, 2011


so... you have no ballot security once it is out of your hands?
posted by edgeways at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


In some cases, malice and incompetence are basically equivalent.

Truth be told, I was just using that line to set up my hilarious Republican = incompetent punch line.

And it was totally hilarious.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to verifiedvoting.org, only Marinette County uses a type of voting machine which doesn't leave a paper trail. It looks like Waukesha County uses a mix of "Paper - Roll or Cut-Sheet" and "Paper - Voter Marked Ballot".
posted by yomimono at 4:33 PM on April 7, 2011


What Went On in Waukesha?
posted by scody at 4:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It looks like Waukesha County uses a mix of "Paper - Roll or Cut-Sheet" and "Paper - Voter Marked Ballot".

And just make shit up if things don't go your way.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given the overall number of votes, this shift doesn't seem large enough to require that the recount be paid for by a candidate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2011


OK, now I'm hearing on Twitter that it was a wayward cell reference in Excel and has nothing to do with Access. Anyone have any primary sources for this stuff?
posted by desjardins at 4:38 PM on April 7, 2011


Joey Michaels: "I cite my "don't mistake incompetence for malice" policy. It sounds like Nickolaus is entirely incompetent, which is to say a Republican"

NO no no... It's the dems who are incompetent, and the republicans who are full of malice. Jeesh!
posted by symbioid at 4:38 PM on April 7, 2011


I was just using that line to set up my hilarious Republican = incompetent punch line.

While Republicans are incompetent at governing, Democrats are incompetent at everything else. I wish they could frame issues to voters half as well as Republicans can do. It's a marvel of nature that Republicans can get people to vote directly against their own self-interest, time after time.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:40 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]



Given the overall number of votes, this shift doesn't seem large enough to require that the recount be paid for by a candidate.

It is awfully close though, I think the margin is .5%. A difference of ~7500 votes would do it
posted by edgeways at 4:41 PM on April 7, 2011


There are two major parties in the US today. The general feeling among Americans about these parties is that one of them is evil, and the other is incompetent. Which is which depends on whom you ask.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:41 PM on April 7, 2011


The Wisconsin State Journal: Nickolaus said she discovered the error Wednesday and attributed it to human error. Apparently, she said, she entered the numbers into the system but failed to hit "save."

"I came in to upload the information into the file for the statewide canvas," she said. "When I opened it up it had all the city of Brookfield fields and columns and I saw there were zeroes."

She said the mistake occurred on the "day-to-day system" she uses in her office and has "nothing to do with the election software or system at all."

posted by yomimono at 4:43 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those damned ACORN people!
posted by Max Power at 4:46 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


That link is implying a lot there, Scody.

One Wisconsin Now estimates put overall turnout near 38 percent, a wild outlier to historical data and the earlier mid-day estimation of Waukesha’s own officials. In April 2009, turnout was 20 percent; April 2008, turnout was 22 percent and in April 2007, turnout was 24 percent. All of these elections had hotly-contested Supreme Court races as well.


It is well known that turnout is remarkably high compared to other elections because of the politically charged atmosphere in the state right now.

Statewide turnout was 33%. But the Wisconsin Government Accountability board predicted a turnout of 20%. In Dane county, almost 49% of registered voters cast a ballot.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2011


Here's a youtube video of the press conference.
posted by yomimono at 4:52 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is why the election was so damn close in the first place. Sure, Prosser was the incumbent and enjoyed a healthy lead, but that was before all this union controversy flared up. Haven't Walker's approval ratings fallen significantly? Wasn't Prosser a well-known ally of Walker's administration, and Kloppenburg an almost certain opponent? Didn't the pro-union movement have all the momentum and energy on their side, while the GOP had just been tarnished by their shady and probably illegal bill-passing tactics?

What happened, Wisconsin?
posted by Rhaomi at 4:53 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't the pro-union movement have all the momentum and energy on their side, while the GOP had just been tarnished by their shady and probably illegal bill-passing tactics? What happened, Wisconsin?

Given that the last time Prosser ran, he received a Saddam-like 99.5% of the vote (that's not a typo: NINETY-NINE POINT FIVE percent!), and that as of six weeks ago he was 30 points ahead of Kloppenburg, I think you may be misunderstanding what happened on a statewide basis here (even if the 7500 votes out of Waukesha indeed turn out to be legit).
posted by scody at 4:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd like for whoever was filing the reports for the AP to explain what was going on with the Waukesha counts on election night. As Nate Silver alludes to, the vote updates didn't match the precinct updates several times.

I watched, at 11:45pm, the report jump from ~130 precincts to 198 (all) without a change in votes. This actually swung my rough estimate for the final numbers from Prosser by 5-10,000 to Klop by a few hundred.

Supposedly, a similar shift happened when Waukesha jumped from 52 to 119.

It would be interesting to know if this was because of the system being used in Waukesha County or because of how the AP delivered the results.
posted by pokermonk at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2011


scody: "Given that the last time Prosser ran, he received a Saddam-like 99.5% of the vote (that's not a typo: NINETY-NINE POINT FIVE percent!), and that as of six weeks ago he was 30 points ahead of Kloppenburg, I think you may be misunderstanding what happened on a statewide basis here (even if the 7500 votes out of Waukesha indeed turn out to be legit)."

That was a very different context though. In an environment where Walker would probably lose re-election decisively if he were up for it, and where his budget bill would almost certainly be defeated in a public referendum, why would an acolyte of his not fare similarly when the fate of the bill is at stake? Especially when turnout was so much higher -- that suggests great enthusiasm and interest from the electorate, and most of the enthusiasm and interest seemed to lie with the unions and their supporters.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a relief that Bush's recount lawyer isn't involved this time around. Oh, wait.
posted by black rainbows at 5:08 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's very hard to defeat an incumbent judge in Wisconsin, plus Prosser 's side spent nearly twice as much as Kloppenburg's.
posted by drezdn at 5:09 PM on April 7, 2011


You mean that a Republican in a high-profile tightly contested election hired a Republican elections lawyer that has worked on other high-profile tightly contested election? Shocking.
posted by gyc at 5:10 PM on April 7, 2011


Karma in action: The woman David Prosser called a 'total bitch' is the person who will appoint the judge in any recount challenge
posted by Rhaomi at 5:13 PM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


That was a very different context though. In an environment where Walker would probably lose re-election decisively if he were up for it, and where his budget bill would almost certainly be defeated in a public referendum, why would an acolyte of his not fare similarly when the fate of the bill is at stake? Especially when turnout was so much higher -- that suggests great enthusiasm and interest from the electorate, and most of the enthusiasm and interest seemed to lie with the unions and their supporters.

Right, but that's actually my point -- that in a state that historically has almost never unseated incumbent judges, much less conservative judges who are elected with those kinds of crazy numbers, the turnaround in just a few months has been extremely significant. Moreover, Kloppenburg won in numerous counties (I can't find the article from last night that gives the exact number -- hopefully someone can chime in; I want to say it was 16 as of last night?) that went decisively for Walker in November. Prosser outspent Kloppenburg (again, a virtual unknown) 2-1. It may seem like it shouldn't have even been close to those of us observing from the outside, but the fact that it was close at all is indicative of a very quick and large shift leftward.
posted by scody at 5:15 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure Walker is smug enough to fold his arms and charge onward if Prosser manages to pull out a 7000 vote win, but any Wisconsinite with an R after their name and a brain should be terrified by this. This was short notice, and against a candidate who should have been re-elected in a walk, backed by all kinds of Koch brothers last minute campaign money he shouldn't have needed, and if he did win he barely scraped it out. How's that gonna work when Walker and the Senate Republicans are facing their recall challengers, who unlike Prosser were actually at the focal point of all the outrage?
posted by localroger at 5:16 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


An audit of Nickolaus' election procedures was subsequently performed by the county of Nickolaus' election procedures and a number of recommendations to improve her system were made, including the recommendation that she stop using the same ID and password for three different employees in her office. Nickolaus claimed, in opposing that recommendation, that it would take too much time for one employee to log off before another one logged on.

When presented with the results of the audit at a County Board meeting, Nickolaus said only she would take the recommendations "into consideration" and was then taken to task for what one member of the Executive Committee described as her "smirks" during the discussion, as reported by the Journal Sentinel in January of this year...

posted by drezdn at 5:17 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I typed up what she said about her interactions with Excel, Access, and the GAB's statewide system, but it got a little long. Here's a google doc.
posted by yomimono at 5:24 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


In their audit of Nickolaus’ handling of the systems for collecting and tallying votes, county auditors said it was entirely possible for Nickolaus or one of her employees to tamper with voting data due to Nickolaus’ insistence on controlling password access to those systems.
posted by drezdn at 5:24 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, there are actual paper ballots to recount if necessary and the error was just in failing to report the count. Fraud seems unlikely.

That assumes the number of ballots Nickolaus is reporting is the same as the number she received. I don't think we know enough yet to rule out the possibility that they're not.
posted by EarBucket at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2011


How's that gonna work when Walker and the Senate Republicans are facing their recall challengers, who unlike Prosser were actually at the focal point of all the outrage?

Yes. Kloppenburg trounced Prosser in the district represented by Dan Kapanke -- and there have already been enough signatures gathered to force a recall vote on him.
posted by scody at 5:27 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, this doesn't pass the smell test. I realize this could be an honest mistake, but there are too many unresolved issues pointing the other way.

It's absofuckinglutely insane that we can't run elections better than we do. I mean, they are the basis of our whole political system, no?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:27 PM on April 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


One thing that I'm not sure anyone else here has mentioned (I might have missed it) is that these extra 7k votes were being reported by the right wing talkers/bloggers way before the traditional media was notified.
posted by drezdn at 5:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The conspiracy mongering is a little ridiculous here, we're talking about the initial, live election results not the overall count. All the data is still there, and so are the ballots. Presumably a more careful canvas would be done before the election would be officially certified anyway.

Secondly, this is the state supreme court, not a partisan position. People were complaining about how horrible it was when conservatives tried to boot supreme court judges in Iowa, so it's a little hypocritical to try to boot a judge simply because he's friends with Walker
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


gyc: well, nothing Republicans do or say is shocking, but we discuss it anyway, don't we? Because even though we know exactly how things will go down -- after 30 years of codified machinations -- we watch these incidents unfold in slow motion, nail-biting fashion, hoping we're wrong. And then there's the 10 years worth of posts on the blue documenting our cyclical lament, cynicism, depression, and calls to organize. ::sigh::
posted by black rainbows at 5:36 PM on April 7, 2011


Secondly, this is the state supreme court, not a partisan position.

ahahahaha *snorts*
posted by desjardins at 5:38 PM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


from the link:

Prior to the election, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was heavily criticized for her decision to keep the county results on an antiquated personal computer, rather than upgrade to a new data system being utilized statewide. 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.

WTF???!!!

Why did she get to make that kind of decision? If that information is correct, she needs to go to jail and the election needs to be a do-over.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:40 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, America, you're so wacky!

But seriously, isn't it time to demand international, non-partisan oversight of the election process? Other countries with systems that couldn't be trusted have done it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on April 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Prosser was an Assembly Republican before he was a judge, and skockingly, Kathy Nickolaus sort of worked for him.
posted by drezdn at 5:41 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it wasn't partisan, I would love it. However, Prosser's campaign has said in the past that he'd be a "complement" to Scott Walker and that he'd work to protect "the conservative judicial majority". That doesn't sound partisan to you?
posted by lriG rorriM at 5:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And wasn't it hilarious when a well-known and liked Democratic candidate lost a primary to a homeless lunatic when it looked like he was threatening a powerful Republican incumbent? And when Rassmussen figured out he could throw races to whatever side he pleased with phoney poll results?

How much more of this shit we gonna take?
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:46 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was also just pointed out on a dailykos diary that the the "new" votes are suspiciously close to the threshold Prosser needs to force K to pay for a recount instead of triggering one automatically. If the "new" votes truly are faked they would have to avoid a recount because WI does have paper trails, and a recount would probably undo the fraud.
posted by localroger at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is why the election was so damn close in the first place.

The Supreme Court race was largely symbolic, and I'd guess the middle wasn't particularly engaged. I voted for Kloppenburg (I'm pretty moderate, definitely moving hard left with this current nonsense), but I felt a little bad for Prosser since he really has nothing to do with Walker's war on the universe.

I mean, the anti-Walker crowd had a pretty tough sell on this one. The pro-Walker crowd had an easy go of convincing its own sympathizers that there was danger of another "activist judge" taking power... And a lot of money to do it. Waukesha had 47% turnout compared according to Nickolaus, an increase of something like 12 points over what they were expecting.

What is telling is that Abele beat Stone in the race for Milwaukee County Executive by a wider margin (61/39) than Kloppenburg beat Prosser in the same race (57/43). And even that's a huge swing considering that in the 2010 election Walker beat Barrett in Milwaukee County for Governor 52/47.

It's hard to definitively say what any of this means in the long term... We're now pretty sure Democrats will pick up 3 seats from recalls, and Republicans should be able to grab 1... But that final one? The one that actually flips the legislature?

Flip a coin.

That's pretty good, considering where Democrats were a little over a month ago.
posted by pokermonk at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2011


Home-county pride. *swoon*

Seriously though, although this is incompetent and/or shady, Waukesha is so infra-red-red that if Prosser didn't have a majority I would probably arch my eyebrow even further.
posted by hafehd at 5:53 PM on April 7, 2011


I'm not saying that voter fraud has occurred, but since 2000, I've been thinking just how insidious even the appearance of impropriety in elections is.

Those on the left (like me) think Bush may have stolen the 2000 election. Those on the right think Obama stole the election.

It leads to a great underlying distrust of the system, and the suspicion that everything is rigged against you. It just destroys the trust in the system.
posted by drezdn at 5:54 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


And even that's a huge swing considering that in the 2010 election Walker beat Barrett in Milwaukee County for Governor 52/47.

Walker lost to Barrett in Milwaukee County by numbers roughly equiv. to what Stone lost to Abele by.
posted by drezdn at 5:56 PM on April 7, 2011


but I felt a little bad for Prosser since he really has nothing to do with Walker's war on the universe.

Except that he's on the record as saying he sees himself as someone who would make a nice complement to that war on the universe.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:56 PM on April 7, 2011


Walker lost to Barrett in Milwaukee County by numbers roughly equiv. to what Stone lost to Abele by.

Ah crap... I was looking at the damn total.
posted by pokermonk at 5:58 PM on April 7, 2011


The more I think about this the madder I get. That a person who was involved in voting irregularities in the past was allowed anywhere near an election is beyond stupid. That a personal computer (and her computer, no less) is any part of a democratic election is an affront to anyone who cares about democratic process. And, after all that,when she's the very person who fucked up the program, accepting any "oh my gosh, it was an honest mistake" borders on crazy.

Regardless of the truth, this is a tainted election, and everyone should be offended.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


A reminder: there is no such thing as an automatic recount in WI. Previously.
posted by desjardins at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2011


I don't want to jump on the "this *has* to be wrong" bandwagon, because Kloppenburg's candidacy was a longshot to begin with, and her provisional victory was extremely narrow. So it's entirely possible she did lose, however much I might wish otherwise. But I do think this *has* to be investigated very closely. I respect Nate Silver a great deal, but his comment was that "Waukesha's vote total had been slightly lower than you might expect." That's consistent with a mistake, but also consistent with votes being held back and manipulated later (especially if it's true they were stored only on someone's personal computer).

Viewed as a referendum on Walker, this is still a big "fuck you, Walker" even without a Kloppenburg victory. But now it's also -- at best -- a huge indictment of the massive flaws in the voting system. At worst, shameless fraud on behalf of the party that uses "voting fraud" as an excuse to prevent minorities from voting. It's sad to say that "the benefit of the doubt" in this case amounts to believing that the outcomes of elections are determined by incompetent people using Microsoft desktop software.
posted by uosuaq at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And wasn't it hilarious when a well-known and liked Democratic candidate lost a primary to a homeless lunatic when it looked like he was threatening a powerful Republican incumbent?
What? The guy wasn't well known, otherwise he would have won. Hardly any voters had even heard of him or the other guy. And there was zero threat to the incumbant, Jim DeMint.
And, after all that,when she's the very person who fucked up the program, accepting any "oh my gosh, it was an honest mistake" borders on crazy.

Regardless of the truth, this is a tainted election, and everyone should be offended.
Lighten up. The people freaking out about this are being completely irrational. This doesn't change anything; if the votes were faked it would obvious. The fact that someone got something wrong on an early, unofficial election result is not the end of the world. In any election this close there would be an automatic recall and a very close scrutiny of the results.

Lighten up.
posted by delmoi at 6:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Secondly, this is the state supreme court, not a partisan position.

The Wisconsin GOP doesn't agree:
Walker's chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn sent an e-mail on the eve of the election urging people to vote for Prosser, saying keeping him on the court is essential to advancing Walker's agenda.

Here's an excerpt from the e-mail, which Hagedorn sent from a personal account around 10:30 p.m. Monday:

"If Justice Prosser loses:

* The Supreme Court will shift from a 4-3 conservative majority to a 4-3 liberal majority.

* Governor Walker's agenda could be stopped in its tracks by this new activist majority.

* Union bosses and their allies will be emboldened and further push to recall the brave Senators who voted for Governor Walker's budget repair bill.

* (Chief Justice) Shirley Abrahamson and her allies will continue to drag down the reputation of the Court, with an additional vote to further push through their radical agenda."
Also, if it was so nonpartisan, why would have the Koch Bros. pitched in to Prosser's campaign?
posted by scody at 6:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the parties were reversed here, James O'Keefe would already be preparing his seduction Winnebago, fake Muslim voters, pimp-costumed lawyers, and super-undercover video editing techniques to bust this election official.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:05 PM on April 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Waukesha county can't even be bothered to name their files correctly. Here are their latest election results (one page PDF), with a file name from February's election. Sloppy.
posted by desjardins at 6:07 PM on April 7, 2011


You know, Tuesday night I felt like I was in a timewarp. I hadn't realized how close the race would be, and it was whoosh back to the past with me, to 2004. I thought then, naive girl that I was, that Kerry was going to win in a landslide. How could Bush win? It was unthinkable. Unconscionable. Inconceivable. That word did not mean what I thought it meant. I stayed up well into the wee hours of the morning Tuesday, refreshing twitter, obsessively checking results, waiting for anything definitive. How could it be so close with Prosser? I was living in an echo chamber. I finally went to bed, determined to wait.

I'm in another time warp now, even further back. I was in the process of moving from Florida to North Carolina in November of 2000, and sent my ballot by mail. Not that it mattered. I was confident then, as I am confident now, that my vote didn't matter and didn't count, because it wasn't for the 'right' guy. I can not even tell you how sickened and angry I was. This situation is not that one, but I tell you what, the anger and the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that this is just not right - that's the same.

How can we trust our system when things like this can happen? How can we ever trust it? That was my question in 2000, and it's my question now. It was never really answered then - nothing really changed. We got more and more info about how insecure this voting machine was, how that procedure was trivial to get around, how corrupt this official was, on and on and on, and yet nothing changed.

We are living in the goddamned future. Why can't we make this work? What do we need to do to get this working?
posted by lriG rorriM at 6:07 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


If the Republicans didn't commit election fraud*, they managed to do it in a way that just reeks of election fraud.
-Nickolaus worked under Prosser in the Assembly Caucus
-She was previously audited for poor vote handling practices
-She was previously involved in a political scandal involving campaigning on the public dime.
-She seems to have told right wing friends before anyone else.


*And I'm not saying they did.
posted by drezdn at 6:07 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


In any election this close there would be an automatic recall and a very close scrutiny of the results

There are no automatic recounts in the state of Wisconsin. Any recount that is over a differential of .5% (approximately 7000 votes, in this case) comes at the expense of the losing party. So, these votes mysteriously may break this barrier, meaning that no recount will take place unless Kloppenburg can come up with something like (I think) 5.00 per Ward.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:08 PM on April 7, 2011


In any election this close there would be an automatic recall and a very close scrutiny of the results.

There are no automatic recalls in Wisconsin, and the difference is now (thanks to the extra 7k) enough that Kloppenburg would have to pay for it.
posted by drezdn at 6:09 PM on April 7, 2011


delmoi - lighten up? are you kidding me? you don't live here, this is just a news story to you.
posted by desjardins at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


and now Walker is asking the State Supreme court to step in a vacate the TRO issued on his bill.


niiiiice
posted by edgeways at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2011


$5/ward is about 18,000, which she could raise easily. Say, contributions of $10 per Democratic ward.
posted by orthogonality at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This stinks to high heaven either way. This women has been criticized by others in state elections for a long time now for not being transparent enough and operating under too much secrecy. That fact alone makes it absolutely crucial this be scrutinized as closely as possible. It's well known the Republicans have been counting on Prosser's win to shift the balance on the court to the right, making it possible for them to count on the court to back up Walker's radical agenda. This is too important to leave basically up to the word of an acknowledged partisan political operative.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


drezdn: Not to mention that the number of found votes seems calculated to push the margin outside the threshold for a state-paid recount. It's like this whole situation was designed to look as flagrantly corrupt as possible.

Does any Democratic-leaning or nonpartisan state agency have the power to seize the relevant computers before the data is destroyed?
posted by gerryblog at 6:11 PM on April 7, 2011


women-->woman (meaning Nickolaus)... aye, this is getting bleak.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:12 PM on April 7, 2011


Does any Democratic-leaning or nonpartisan state agency have the power to seize the relevant computers before the data is destroyed?

There are none at the state level. The Department of Justice is under the control of a Tea Partying Attorney General who is to busy supporting Walker and fighting Health Care reform. The Legislature is Republican as is the Governor's office. The state patrol is headed by the dad of the brothers that control the legislature.
posted by drezdn at 6:14 PM on April 7, 2011


What a farce.

no recount will take place unless Kloppenburg can come up with something like (I think) 5.00 per Ward.

I'll kick in five bucks. How many wards are there?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on April 7, 2011


"Lighten up"? Lighten up? Ah, yes, there's that 2000 spirit. "Get over it, you lost." I remember that well.

Seriously. This is hinky. Yes, it's not atypical for all kinds of results to come in until an election is certified, especially one this close - it was happening all day long. But just LOOK at all the details in this case. LOOK.
posted by lriG rorriM at 6:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


3500 or so, IIRC.
posted by drezdn at 6:15 PM on April 7, 2011


Supposedly a similar thing happened in Waukesha in 2006, and resulted in one candidate being announced as the winner when the weren't. Which means, at the very least, Kathy Nickolaus is really bad at her job and should resign. I'll post a link as soon as I see one.
posted by drezdn at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2011


Sep. 14 [2006] --Waukesha -- Computer glitches, inoperable equipment and other problems troubled Tuesday's primary balloting in Waukesha County, resulting in one candidate mistakenly being posted as winner of a race only later to be declared the loser.
posted by desjardins at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


delmoi:

You and I agree way more than we disagree, but I will never lighten up about election procedures. In a democracy, if elections are not sacrosanct nothing is.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:23 PM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


There are none at the state level. The Department of Justice is under the control of a Tea Partying Attorney General who is to busy supporting Walker and fighting Health Care reform. The Legislature is Republican as is the Governor's office. The state patrol is headed by the dad of the brothers that control the legislature.

Yes, but we should all lighten up.
posted by scody at 6:24 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a democracy, if elections are not sacrosanct nothing is.

Seconded. At the very least, the most important thing I want people to take away from this is that Kathy Nickolaus has shown a pattern of not treating elections with the seriousness they deserve and should either resign or be removed from office.
posted by drezdn at 6:25 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the interests of lightening up (hmmff!!) - #whatkathyfound is becoming a thing on Twitter.
posted by desjardins at 6:29 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What else did Kathy Nickolaus find? Play along on twitter at #whatkathyfound
posted by drezdn at 6:31 PM on April 7, 2011


Wow, Kathy Nickolaus is actually a trending topic nationwide. I'm gladdened to see that non-Wisconsinites are paying attention.
posted by desjardins at 6:32 PM on April 7, 2011


delmoi - lighten up? are you kidding me? you don't live here, this is just a news story to you.

...


"Lighten up"? Lighten up? Ah, yes, there's that 2000 spirit. "Get over it, you lost." I remember that well.
Yeah lighten up. What do you want? If the data had been entered correctly, it would just have shown Prosser winning that night. How is that better? Data entry errors are not fraud.

I don't even understand what the complaint even is. None of this has anything to do with who ultimately wins the election, just with the preliminary results that get reported on the news. It doesn't make any real difference in terms who who's in charge of anything.
In a democracy, if elections are not sacrosanct nothing is.
Preliminary results are not the same thing as 'elections'. They're preliminary. It isn't that any votes weren't counted, but rather an incorrect spreadsheet was sent in.

Do you think that this woman is simply lying about the numbers and making up new data to make the democrats pay an $18k fee? It's theoretically possible except that it would be caught pretty quickly and she could end up in a ton of legal trouble.

Freaking out about this is a waste of energy.
posted by delmoi at 6:32 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's theoretically possible except that it would be caught pretty quickly and she could end up in a ton of legal trouble.

It's not only possible, but it's highly likely, given her history with mishandling elections. She's been in a ton of legal trouble in the past, somehow weathered the storm, and she's still in the same spot.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the data had been entered correctly, it would just have shown Prosser winning that night. How is that better?

People would have reacted differently. Instead of thinking "We did it!", there would have been more talk of how hard unseating an incumbent is and redoubling efforts on the recalls.

It also means that it's entirely possible that mistakes like this don't get caught and that vote totals are never accurately counted.
posted by drezdn at 6:38 PM on April 7, 2011


delmoi's right; in all of human history not a single person has ever done anything that could get them into legal trouble -- least of all when they were in a position of public trust. We should give her the benefit of the doubt until the allegations are investigated, and also we shouldn't investigate.
posted by gerryblog at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Delmoi hasn't said it shouldn't be investigated, his "lighten up" is entirely based on the fact that they will.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:40 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right, delmoi. Let's just relax and let the system take care of it all. That has worked very well so far. I'm sure everything will sort itself on its own, we don't need to monitor it.

But seriously - it's incredibly important to keep the media spotlight on these people. They cannot be trusted. Even if it is simple incompetence - they cannot be trusted. If the people seem not to care, the media won't care, and then they can do whatever they want once they're out of the spotlight.
posted by desjardins at 6:41 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


She was investigated before. Didn't make a difference.
posted by desjardins at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2011


0xFCAF: If the parties were reversed here, James O'Keefe would already be preparing his seduction Winnebago, fake Muslim voters, pimp-costumed lawyers, and super-undercover video editing techniques to bust this election official.

Well, we can complain about it, or we can do something about it. Does anyone here live in or near Wisconsin and have a sexy van, a pimp costume, or the ability to ululate? Your country needs you..
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Delmoi, the extra votes just supiciously bridge the gap to make K pay for her recount. I'm afraid that in this case, Occam's Razor definitely does not advise lightening up.
posted by localroger at 6:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


delmoi's right; in all of human history not a single person has ever done anything that could get them into legal trouble
Did you even read what I wrote?
It's theoretically possible except that it would be caught pretty quickly and she could end up in a ton of legal trouble.
I said it was possible, but unlikely. If she did it, she'll quickly get caught. I don't understand what you even want to happen here. As long as the ballots are carefully counted and certified, nothing this woman does over the next few days is going to affect who actually wins the election in the end.

That's why it's unlikely. Why put yourself in legal risk over something that won't accomplish anything?
posted by delmoi at 6:43 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the data had been entered correctly, it would just have shown Prosser winning that night.

Yeah, IF. The point is, as people are freaking out about explaining, that A) Kathy Nickolaus has a long history of being involved with election and voting irregularities to the point that her own County Board has sharply condemned her practices, and B) there's quite possibly no meaningful way for any neutral third party to determine if the data had been entered correctly in the first place.

No worries, eh?
posted by scody at 6:43 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's quite possibly no meaningful way for any neutral third party to determine if the data had been entered correctly in the first place.

You mean other then, like, counting the ballots?
posted by delmoi at 6:44 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


scody: there's quite possibly no meaningful way for any neutral third party to determine if the data had been entered correctly

Oh, but there is: WI has paper trails, so a recount will cover this. Conveniently for Prosser, the "newly found" votes put his win margin just beyond the threshold where K will have to pay for her recount instead of just asking for it.
posted by localroger at 6:45 PM on April 7, 2011


Does anyone here live in or near Wisconsin and have a sexy van, a pimp costume, or the ability to ululate?

I no longer fit into my pimp costume or the "fine lady" costume. I'll need volunteers. I have a 2008 Chrysler Town & County (light blue). That's about as sexy as they come.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:45 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't care if it was an "honest mistake" or not. I am angry about fucked-up procedure. If you think someone with her history should be allowed anywhere near an election, or that "personal computer" and "democratic election" ever belong in the samesentence, then we just disagree.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


No one disagrees on that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:49 PM on April 7, 2011


Shit, she wasn't just an employee of Prosser, she was hired by him.
posted by drezdn at 6:49 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Lighten up,' doesn't mean that one should not take election results seriously, but that one should not hurl oneself into a pit of gloom over UNofficial election results. Going by the story in the FPP, Nickolaus omitted to include any results for the town of Brookfield in the totals she gave to the press agencies Tuesday night. She discovered her error the following day, while preparing to upload results to the state system. That's the only one which actually counts - inaccurate updates to the press are disappointing, but not corrupt.

I think it might be worth re-reading this bit of the news report:
At the news conference with Nickolaus, Ramona Kitzinger, the Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers, said: "We went over everything and made sure all the numbers jibed up and they did. Those numbers jibed up and we're satisfied they're correct."

As a Democrat, she said, "I'm not going to stand here and tell you something that's not true.


Now, anyone who's suggesting a cover-up is also saying that the Democratic county election monitor is in on it. Furthermore, if you read the Journal-Sentinel article carefully, you'll notice that individual ward clerks reported their results separately to the press on election night. So first, it's very easy to check the county results against those reported by the clerks in each ward to see if they add up correctly or not, and second, nobody in the media bothered to do this themselves, but instead just reported the (inaccurate) totals for the whole county without cross-referencing them against the totals reported by the individual wards.

This shows sloppy journalism as much as it shows sloppy release of the data by Nickolaus. Poorly-explained changes in voting tallies submitted to the state are always disturbing. But errors in unofficial, uncertified results, not so much.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:50 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You have a cite on that, drezdn? Dude. That's like - shouldn't she have recused herself then?
posted by flex at 6:52 PM on April 7, 2011


Also cites on this? "One thing that I'm not sure anyone else here has mentioned (I might have missed it) is that these extra 7k votes were being reported by the right wing talkers/bloggers way before the traditional media was notified." Very curious to read up on it.
posted by flex at 6:54 PM on April 7, 2011


Seeing it second hand, supposedly on Senator Pocan's Facebook page.
posted by drezdn at 6:55 PM on April 7, 2011


Here's mention of a few hundred extra votes in Waukesha from last night.

Brew City Brawler says that right wing talker Charlie Sykes (@sykescharlie not to be confused with parody account @sykescharley) tweeted "Watch Waukesha" at 4 or earlier.
posted by drezdn at 7:00 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


@MelissaRyan (Someone who worked in Wisconsin Politics for Russ Feingold) also says Prosser hired Nickolaus.
posted by drezdn at 7:03 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So… we lost?

Sorry, just coming to this story now and it sucks and I feel shitty.
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on April 7, 2011


After viewing that press conference I feel pretty certain that she's pulling a fast one here, and how do I know? Well, for one thing look at the Dem who supposedly oversaw what Nickolaus was doing when she "corrected" her human error. That woman looks to be close to 80 and not to be ageist, but I'll eat my socks if she knows how an Excel spreadsheet uses formula's or an Access database can import files from Excel and what the names of those files should be.

This needs some serious forensic investigating, from someone objective who can put Nickolaus on the spot and get her to go through her motions. Hell what bullshit. Nickolaus thinks she's a systems expert, because she knows how to use Microsoft Office? WTF?

Also, sorta strange, how quickly she pushed that elderly Dem woman away from the microphones. I would bet money she didn't want the press to see how little of the process or that basic software the old woman knows about.

Man, I'm calling FOUL on this so hard, I'm about to gush blood out of my eyes.
posted by Skygazer at 7:09 PM on April 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


So pretty much they are trying to bluff a big enough lead to make the democrats pay for a recount?
posted by mrzarquon at 7:11 PM on April 7, 2011


Nickolaus thinks she's a systems expert, because she knows how to use Microsoft Office?

She's supposedly a programmer with 15 years experience, also, a bait shop owner (just added for its sheer Wisconsinish).
posted by drezdn at 7:14 PM on April 7, 2011


What does she program in? BASIC?
posted by Skygazer at 7:16 PM on April 7, 2011


Everyone here owns a baitshop. It's in the state constitution.

Anyone need any night crawlers?
posted by thanotopsis at 7:16 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Everyone here owns a baitshop.

When I was a kid growing up in West Allis, there was a bait shop (with the coolest green fish bait sign) a few blocks away. Aside from county parks, the nearest "real" places to fish had to be at least 10 miles away.

Now, I live alot closer to Lake Michigan, but still at least a mile away, and there's a bait shop a few blocks from me.

I can't escape bait shops.
posted by drezdn at 7:22 PM on April 7, 2011


I didn't think for a second that The Führer of Wisconsin would lose this one.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:22 PM on April 7, 2011


Kathy Nickolaus makes 67k a year to do a terrible job. No DUIs though.
posted by drezdn at 7:23 PM on April 7, 2011


I think the best thing all around would be a live, on-camera hand recount of every ward in the state. Make it completely public, leave out the counting machines, and make it as transparent as possible.

That's the real issue here -- transparency. If the process had been transparent two days ago, we wouldn't have had a blackout of reporting from that county for hours, and we wouldn't have these votes having been suddenly found.

Throw open the windows, let the world watch the ballots being counted. That's the best way.
posted by hippybear at 7:24 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I feel obliged to point out that the City of Brookfield posted the results of Tuesday's election on its own website, so voters are not wholly dependent on what Nickolaus or other county officials said. I didn't look up web pages for the other wards in Waukesha county, but that would be one obvious way to quickly check the integrity of the county figures.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:31 PM on April 7, 2011


recounts are open to the public. you can go watch them in person. they can be filmed.
posted by desjardins at 7:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supposedly the mistake was discovered yesterday...

A tweet on that.
posted by drezdn at 7:38 PM on April 7, 2011


call for federal investigation
posted by desjardins at 7:44 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the nothing done was illegal, the GOP should welcome an investigation. Considering their statements about voter fraud they should request one.
posted by drezdn at 7:47 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the nothing done was illegal, the GOP should welcome an investigation. Considering their statements about voter fraud they should request one.

This one didn't involve too many brown people voting.

That's the only real vote fraud.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:52 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As BrewCityBrawler pointed out on twitter, if Prosser is going to win (jury is still out in my mind, let's count the undervotes), then this is the best worst way for the left this can happen.
posted by drezdn at 7:56 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gov. Scott Walker in a radio interview on Wednesday:

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.
posted by drezdn at 7:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I said this in a thread about the blown call that kept Ireland out of the World Cup last year, but it applies here: it's amazing how often these "just human error" situations seem to benefit the big money and the status quo.

Yep, truly jaw-dropping that by some wiiiiiiild coincidence, the team or individual that will make the most money for the folks at the top of the pile are so frequently the ones who get to advance when mistakes are made or discovered.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:01 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's amazing how often these "just human error" situations seem to benefit the big money and the status quo.

Any small market NBA fan can give you a long list of these examples... Milwaukee 2001, Sacramento 2002
posted by drezdn at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2011


From @AndrewKroll (a labor reporter) "In 2002, state ethics board "looked into" Nickolaus' purchase of registered voter list with state money, per AP"
posted by drezdn at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2011


Pretty much any time the Twins are in the playoffs.
posted by drezdn at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other stuff that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus found behind her computer:

A box of dancing mechanical pencils. They dance! They sing!
It's an old Duke Ellington record.
A box of fumigation pellets.
A digital clock. It's stuck at 2:17 PM.
An empty shopping bag. Paper or plastic?
Could it be... a big ugly bowling trophy?
A freshly-baked pumpkin pie.
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND CARPET FIBERS!!!!!
It's Richard Nixon's nose!
It's Lucy Ricardo. "Aaaah, Ricky!", she says.
posted by orthogonality at 8:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Could it be... a big ugly bowling trophy?

Well, it is Wisconsin.
posted by desjardins at 8:19 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe the ballots were put in a box of Ham-Dingers. No wonder no one found them.
posted by gc at 8:21 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Other results from around Waukesha county...
New Berlin April 5 2011 Election results
Menomonee Falls April 5 2011 Election results
Town of Mukowanogo April 5 2011 Election results
Oconomowoc April 5 2011 Election results

I'm all for an investigation, but wouldn't a logical first step be to gather up the data and compare it with that reported at the county and state level? Perhaps someone else who's actually familiar with Wisconsin electoral districts would like to join in.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:22 PM on April 7, 2011


Okay so seriously.

1. County Clerk with a history of vote fraud (granted immunity in the past for vote doctoring)
2. Who moved the voting results on to her computer and her computer alone.
3. Who was hired by Prosser.
4. Who claims to have discovered 7400 votes for prosser which puts him out of recount range without pay.
5. Who claims to have forgotten to save a cell in Access which automatically saves whenever you change focus, a feature which cannot be disabled.

I respectfully request that a federal investigator or some third party equivalent be on the fucking ground right this goddamned minute to review the data at hand and tell me that this is all kosher.

And then I'll be happy. I just need someone who isn't corrupt or suspect or whatever the fuck else these people are to tell me that, yeah, she's just incompetent.

Otherwise, un fucking acceptable. And I don't even live in Wisconsin. This is not something that we fucking do. We're better than this, and there should be zero tolerance for this shit.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:23 PM on April 7, 2011 [14 favorites]



1. County Clerk with a history of vote fraud (granted immunity in the past for vote doctoring)


The immunity was over the Caucus Scandal, where state employees campaigned while on the clock (a crime in Wisconsin).
posted by drezdn at 8:24 PM on April 7, 2011


This is not something that we fucking do. We're better than this, and there should be zero tolerance for this shit.

Clearly you just moved to America since 2000 or 2004. This is what we do.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:25 PM on April 7, 2011


The immunity was over the Caucus Scandal, where state employees campaigned while on the clock (a crime in Wisconsin).

I stand corrected.

Clearly you just moved to America since 2000 or 2004. This is what we do.

In the past we at least pretended we didn't.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2011


WI has paper trails, so a recount will cover this.

Ah, got it -- I missed yomimono's comment earlier that got posted right as I was posting. Well, fair enough, assuming she's not actually in control of any of the paper data, either.
posted by scody at 8:27 PM on April 7, 2011


Does any Democratic-leaning or nonpartisan state agency have the power to seize the relevant computers before the data is destroyed?

The nonpartisan agency that would investigate, if an investigation were to occur, would be the GAB. I doubt they can seize an election official's personal computer, though.
posted by Jpfed at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2011


A few proposals, in order of priority:

1. An independent electoral authority staffed by non-partisan returning officers.
2. A standard voting, counting and reporting mechanism in every district.
3. Pencil and paper ballots, with counting scrutinised by candidates' teams.
posted by robcorr at 8:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


My mistake, the GAB can issue subpoenas, so yeah, they might be able to seize someone's personal computer.
posted by Jpfed at 8:35 PM on April 7, 2011


State asks Supreme Court to step in, halt restraining order....pay no attention to that man behind the curtain !

there used to be a bait shop in Gleason, WI called 'Master Bait'...i am not shitting you.
posted by g.i.r. at 8:38 PM on April 7, 2011


According to Channel3000,
Kevin Kennedy, director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, said Thursday night that he believes he the votes in Brookfield were not entered in special software the GAB designed for Waukesha County to help it deal with a large number of results. But Kennedy said he thinks the results are legitimate, and the clerk should have double-checked her results before they were sent to the media.
posted by Jpfed at 8:47 PM on April 7, 2011


You Can't Tip a Buick : Does anyone here live in or near Wisconsin and have a sexy van, a pimp costume, or the ability to ululate? Your country needs you..

Oh sure. Now it's "for my country", but when I do it because "it's Friday", people get all sorts of bent out of shape...

That said, I mentioned in the previous thread that if this turns out to be full-on corruption, Nikolaus need to do time, but I'm going to amend that and say that if this is, in fact, just your basic ordinary incompetence, can we please, at the very fucking least, have her fired? At some point, you have to concede that someone just isn't good at something and remove them from the room, because even if it all turns out to be an innocent mistake, as drezdn pointed out earlier, the look of the thing couldn't get much worse.

And if I can't trust the electoral process, what's the damn point?

posted by quin at 8:49 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Does anyone here live in or near Wisconsin and have a sexy van, a pimp costume, or the ability to ululate? Your country needs you..

I live in wisconsin and have access to more pimp costumes than you can shake a stick at. Who has the van?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:56 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]



>Could it be... a big ugly bowling trophy?

Well, it is Wisconsin.


There's only one way to solve this. Bowl off.
posted by codswallop at 9:06 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, as an Australian, I have to ask, why don't you have something like the Australian Electoral Commission? An independent organization tasked with carrying out fair elections? I mean we manage to count the votes of every* citizen in the country with our complicated preferential ballots by hand. It's really not an insurmountable challenge.

* Almost, we have "compulsory" voting and a secret ballot. In practice this means that if you don't show up to a polling place you have to pay $20-$50 (depending on whether you pay within 21 days or not). We also vote on the weekend to make things easier.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 9:47 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, as an Australian, I have to ask, why don't you have something like the Australian Electoral Commission? An independent organization tasked with carrying out fair elections? I mean we manage to count the votes of every* citizen in the country with our complicated preferential ballots by hand. It's really not an insurmountable challenge.

Because America is the best country in the world, go back to Austria if you don't like it!

USA! USA! USA! USA!
posted by gc at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


In summation: no idea.
posted by gc at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Proofs, first of all, the US is federalized slightly differently than Australia. Each state has its own constitutional system for handling election fairness, and in Wisconsin it's the GAB.

The results of a GAB ruling would then escalate to the State Supreme Court, presumably with the recusal of any justice involved in the case. But to go beyond the state courts there would have to be (I think the wording is) "a compelling federal interest", and the US Supreme Court is the next court above the state equivalent.

In the case of Black voting rights in the South, the USG did pass a law giving the courts oversight authority over state election practices, but strictly for the purpose of making elections racially fair (the compelling federal interest).

For what it's worth, the GAB board members were all appointed by Doyle (six year terms; one expires May 1).

jpfed, I believe the GAB only acts when it is referred a case by a local circuit court or other authority (at least that's the way the predecessor State Elections Board worked a few years back). If there is credible reason to consider the clerk's personal computer evidence for an investigation, it could almost certainly be impounded on the order of any circuit judge once the lawsuit is given standing. But a proper case would need to be filed to do so.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mary-Joseph-and-the-little-bebbeh-Jeebus but I am so frickin' tired of having to feel so humiliated because I was born an American...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:39 PM on April 7, 2011


You don't though? I mean you could always drop your citizenship. Or you know, keep fighting and organizing (possibly not in that order), and eventually win. As far as being humiliated goes though, well why? Sure we fuck up constantly. So does everyone else. Basically this is what people do.
posted by Peztopiary at 12:39 AM on April 8, 2011


Sure we fuck up constantly. So does everyone else. Basically this is what people do.

This kind of glosses over the special fact that the U.S. -- a country of over 300 million people -- doesn't have mandatory national methods or standards for voting and tallying ballots; even each state doesn't necessarily have consistent standards among all counties (of which there are more than 3100 nationwide). Pair this with the fact that most County Clerk offices (which administer elections) tend to be underfunded and/or understaffed and most polling places are run by (usually elderly) volunteers, the opportunity for error, incompetence, and/or corruption is pretty staggering, given that the U.S. regularly touts itself as the greatest and most perfect democracy that ever graced the face of the earth.
posted by scody at 1:10 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


(which is not to argue with your excellent point, peztopiary, about organizing and fighting; just that elections in the U.S. have some pretty crazy built-in problems.)
posted by scody at 1:13 AM on April 8, 2011


I just want to correct something I said earlier, 14k votes weren't counted, not 7k. There was a 7k margin for Prosser.
posted by drezdn at 4:31 AM on April 8, 2011


At least one Republican is calling for a Grand Jury
As a veteran public official Nickolaus should welcome the scrutiny. She should realize that her constituents, the candidates and the people of the entire state have a stake in ensuring the integrity of our elections.
posted by drezdn at 4:52 AM on April 8, 2011


If the parties were reversed here, James O'Keefe would already be preparing his seduction Winnebago

Hang on - isn't every Winnebago a seduction Winnebago?
posted by cmonkey at 4:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm starting to miss the days that Wisconsin posts were about kids caught in claw games and outsider artists.
posted by drezdn at 4:54 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My husband used to work with Kathy Nickolaus (the Waukesha County Clerk). He used to work for the legislature’s IT shop from 1993 to 1997...
posted by drezdn at 5:21 AM on April 8, 2011


If I had a better grasp of stats, or was a Nate Silver type, I'd be running Waukesha's pre-2002 (pre-Nickolaus) and post-Nickolaus election data to see if there are any "statistical anomalies."

If I were a reporter, I'd be dropping open record requests to everyone in the Walker Administration looking for mentions of Nickolaus, not because it's directly related to this, but I'm willing to bet they know pretty well who she his, and I'd be interested to see when her name comes up.
posted by drezdn at 5:49 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's theoretically possible except that it would be caught pretty quickly and she could end up in a ton of legal trouble.

This is what I originally assumed about the charges that Bush and Cheney were faking evidence to go to war, too. I turned out to be wrong.
posted by EarBucket at 5:55 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From a One Wisconsin Now email:

Nickolaus was in charge of developing a computer program that “averaged the performance of Republicans in all statewide races for the previous eight years in each ward and then averaged that information for each city, township, county and district,” making her claim of human error even more ridiculous.

posted by drezdn at 6:05 AM on April 8, 2011


Imagine what 7,500 surprise votes should tell us.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:21 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys, voting will change everything.
posted by Legomancer at 6:22 AM on April 8, 2011


I doubt they can seize an election official's personal computer, though.

And *that* is the problem here. The fact that the sacred "Chain of Custody" was broken so egregiously, you pretty much can't rely on anything until a full on audit is conducted.

Not a recount. An audit of every single aspect of the process.
posted by mikelieman at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


This shows step by step why it couldn't have happened the way Nickolaus says it did.
posted by drezdn at 6:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


For crying out loud.

OK, in the last thread, I offered my services as head of environmental regulations to the Governor. This time I'll do one better:

----

Waukesha County election folks, need some IT help?

-I've already worked IT for government entities in Brookfield.
-I'm relatively right leaning, so I'll fit right in with all you guys.
-I already have a job, so I'd be willing to straight up volunteer some time during election season.
-I'm in my mid 20s, and understand how these newfangled computers work.
-I've always been intrigued by the concept of chain of custody for secret ballots. I'd love to help you refine this.

Maybe we have a future together? Let me know.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug for County Clerk! You'd have my vote if I didn't live in the other Wisconsin.
posted by drezdn at 7:16 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said some returns from the City of Waukesha inexplicably had data recorded in the wrong column, which momentarily skewed..." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 14, 2006]
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


At a bare minimum, she's not nearly computer-competent enough to be handling election returns. People should be in the streets calling for this woman's job.
posted by EarBucket at 7:31 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what's the next step? Is that it, or do we get an audit?
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:42 AM on April 8, 2011


I mean, holy shit. She's an un-indicted co-conspirator in an election fraud case, and she's still handling ballots ten years later? And not just handling them, but keeping them on her personal computer, and only on her personal computer, with only one password? What in the fuck, Winsconsin?
posted by EarBucket at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also volunteered my services to Waukesha County, with the stipulation that I never actually have to set foot in it.
posted by desjardins at 8:07 AM on April 8, 2011


EarBucket, Winsconsin is the Charlie Sheen version of Wisconsin.
posted by desjardins at 8:08 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From @maryerpenbach So a Brookfield voter is #1,349 at 7:15 p.m. Yet 45 min later 1,545 MORE people have voted at same polling place? Seriously?
posted by drezdn at 8:11 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any more information about what @maryerpenbach's talking about?
posted by EarBucket at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2011


So that'd be... ~34 voters/minute?

Do you know where the vote count timing numbers are coming from?
posted by Vibrissa at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2011


She said a woman emailed her about it.
posted by drezdn at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2011


This PDF on the city's web site has a creation date of 10pm on Tuesday.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2011


Yeah, as I understand it, what they're saying is that the city counted their votes and sent the numbers to the county, and it was the county who didn't enter them correctly. So the city always knew about the 14,000 votes.
posted by Vibrissa at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2011


Nickolaus once sent out pre-marked sample ballots.
posted by drezdn at 9:39 AM on April 8, 2011


The red-faced county clerk Kathy Nickolaus said, the gaffe occurred when her office sent some newspapers the same sample ballots that had been marked to test the voting machines. “It was human error” she said.

You have to be fucking kidding me.
posted by EarBucket at 9:53 AM on April 8, 2011


People should be in the streets calling for this woman's job.

It's an elected position. There are no minimum standards. Despite the county board auditing her work, and raking her over the coals, she was re-elected last year. The only person with the power to remove her is the Governor.

She could be recalled, of course, but the county is overwhelmingly Republican. It would take another Republican to run against her.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2011


Not meant conspiratorially at all, but who handles the votes in a County Clerk election?
posted by drezdn at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2011


Nickolaus tried selling software to state election board. It wasn't very good.
posted by drezdn at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Government Accountability Board page with canvassing results by county.
posted by Vibrissa at 12:28 PM on April 8, 2011


FB update from a friend in Wisconsin: "State elections officials from Government Accountability Board are on their way to Waukesha to investigate. Vote totals won't be certified until their investigation is complete."
posted by scody at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2011


The GAB is saying Nickolaus knew about the error at noon on Wednesday and told them at 4pm on Thursday. They also say if they would have been notified earlier they would have went there to overview the process.
posted by drezdn at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2011


drezdn, technically, the votes are counted by the board of canvassers, which consists of the clerk and two clerk appointees, one of whom must be of a different party. When the clerk is a candidate, the deputy clerk serves on the board of canvassers instead. -- Wis. Stat. §7.60(2) Exception: Municipalities or counties of more than 500,000 (in practice, Milwaukee) have a three-member board of election commissioners instead of a clerk.

The clerk's role in this process is to compile and submit the canvass results to the appropriate officials.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 PM on April 8, 2011


State elections officials dispatched to examine Waukesha County count
posted by dhartung at 1:44 PM on April 8, 2011


GAB Director Kennedy is a longstanding official:
I have served as Wisconsin’s non-partisan chief election official for more than 25 years. I am currently appointed by and report to a non-partisan, citizen board comprised of six former circuit court and appellate judges. (G.A.B.) was created in February 2007 by 2007 Wisconsin Act 1. After the appointment and confirmation of the initial members and hiring of its Director and General Counsel, the G.A.B. replaced the bipartisan State Elections Board and non-partisan State Ethics Board on January 10, 2008.

The Board has general supervisory authority over the conduct of elections in the State of Wisconsin. I have compliance review authority over Wisconsin’s 1,922 local election officials and their staffs. This means any complaint alleging an election official has acted contrary to law or abused the discretion vested in that official must be filed with the Government Accountability Board before it may proceed in court. I have the authority to order local election officials to conform their conduct to law.....

After the polls close, the results are counted at the polling place. The ballots, voting results and other supplies for state and federal contests are transported to the county clerk the next day. Wisconsin’s 72 county boards of canvassers conduct a canvass of the votes within two days of the election and certify the results to our office. In 71 counties, the county clerk is responsible for printing ballots, programming voting equipment, publishing notices and the conduct of the county canvass for state and federal elections. County clerks are elected on a partisan ticket in presidential years. -- Congressional testimony, 2009


Incidentally, I often consult the legislature's statute database, and I've never seen it so slow.
posted by dhartung at 1:56 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So far, canvasses find no other major mistakes in vote count
posted by dhartung at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2011


Breaking news: $25 billion inexplicably found allocated to the Waukesha County Clerk's Office in federal budget. #shutdownavoided #humanerror
posted by Bukvoed at 5:35 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I said this in a thread about the blown call that kept Ireland out of the World Cup last year, but it applies here: it's amazing how often these "just human error" situations seem to benefit the big money and the status quo.
How does this error benefit the big money and status quo? The original error was in Prosser's favor, and the correction benefits walker and the establishment.

The problem with calling the inconsistency a conspiracy is that the initial inconsistency wouldn't benefit them.

If it turns out, later on, that she made the vote totals up, then that would be a huge indicator of foul play. And it would be very obvious that she'd done it.

Here's the basic problem. Think about it this way. The accusation is this woman took some action, X and as a result of that action the following things occurred: 1) The vote totals were missing that town on the night of the election and 2) The totals were updated with 7k additional votes, with the votes being for that town.

So what are the possibilities? Either 1) She didn't enter the results for that town or 2) no one in that town actually voted, and so she made up results for them. If 1 happened, then that has no effect on the election, and if 2 happened, it would be extremely obvious, and it could be corrected easily.

Another possibility, I guess, is that she held back the results so she could see what the margin was, and then posted the updated figures that would put the incumbent over the threshold to require a paid recount. But again, it would be easy to double check this so if she decided to try this it would be easy to detect.

Ultimately none of this will have any impact on who actually wins the election. So the question is, why would anyone risk breaking the law to do something that has no effect?

That's what I don't understand from people who are upset about this.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on April 8, 2011


I guess the question is.... is 24 hours enough time to create enough fake ballots to back up her claims?

That's the problem. There's a lack of transparency and a pile of broken trust which comes up when someone fucks up like this, and it throws the entire basis of our democracy out of whack.

Whether she's telling the truth or not at this point, the election feels tainted, and there will always be an asterisk in people's mind about it. Just like the 2000 presidential election. Just like the 2004 presidential election. Just like every other election where transparency and trust ended up corpses on the verge along the road toward elected office.

Do I think an army of people managed to fill in 14K ballots in 24 hours just to support this story? Not really. But it's as much about avoiding the appearance of impropriety as it is about actual transgressions. And this woman should resign. It's not an accident with her at this point. It's a pattern extending back decades which shows a basic lack of apparent integrity. Or to be more kind, an inability to execute her office without raising questions as to the quality of the results.

THAT is why people are upset. Whatever happened, the truthiness of the situation feels like it's tainted, and that should be avoided at all costs during elections.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess the question is.... is 24 hours enough time to create enough fake ballots to back up her claims?

But, only as few as a thousand would need to be phoney based on previous voting.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:07 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another possibility, I guess, is that she held back the results so she could see what the margin was, and then posted the updated figures that would put the incumbent over the threshold to require a paid recount. But again, it would be easy to double check this so if she decided to try this it would be easy to detect.

There's a point where this degenerates into pointless re-hashing. Sadly, until every ballot is hand-checked by a team of auditors, and every voter who signed in has that signature verified and be sworn in and deposed on the record to establish that they had in fact cast a ballot at the time and location recorded, we won't really know what happened.
posted by mikelieman at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


delmoi, I don't understand your gosh-gee-whillikers-everything's-dandy position here. This is a massive discrepancy committed by an official with a very dodgy history. Maybe there is nothing there, but it would be irresponsible not to review this very, very closely.

I can understand the error, to some extent, especially if she's actually as incompetent with Office products as her earlier history suggests. What I am really curious about is the 28-hour delay in letting people know about the error.

It is especially galling in part because Wisconsin has a very clean reputation when it comes to elections -- and extra-special galling because the GOP has (regardless) been jumping on the couch screaming "vote fraud" for several years now about relatively small things like fake voter registrations and a single-digit number of actual vote fraud cases prosecuted statewide, all to institute a restrictive "voter ID" system as if there were some major epidemic of fraud in the state. Here we now have a serious swing in numbers that conveniently benefits someone who is not just in the same party as the official responsible, but her former boss, and we're supposed to shrug it off and say "hey, stuff happens"? Fuck that.
posted by dhartung at 12:31 AM on April 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


delmoi, I don't understand your gosh-gee-whillikers-everything's-dandy position here.
Because I don't understand what it is you think happened. The fact that there is a discrepancy isn't evidence that something bad happened, because it's inconsistent with anything bad actually happening. There's just no plausible bad act that I can think of.

Also, now that I think about it, it isn't that new votes were 'found' but rather they weren't included in a total. The totals for the city were recorded, so it isn't even the case that they could have faked up ballots later on, because then the totals for the city would be different then what they were on election night.

The preliminary figures are preliminary. If you want figures that are error free, you're going to have to wait for a couple days after the election for everything to be double checked before you even get vote totals.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a helluva way to discourage marginal voters from participating in democracy again. let 'em get excited that they made a difference, then crush 'em.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi, these are not criminal charges, so I don't have to assume or prove a bad act happened. At the very least there was incompetence here and the GAB head has already said that Nickolaus needs to improve her procedures. Even the hint of incompetence is -- or should be -- enough to trouble any voter.

You seem to want to extend the benefit of the doubt to a group that has already demonstrated its utter contempt for the rule of law -- passing bills with no notice and no acknowledgement of debate, "publishing" laws bypassing a constitutional officer, filing appeals in court on behalf of same officer without consulting him. Nickolaus herself has a history of scorning standards and oversight. These people are making a mockery of our system and the mutual trust that previously existed. In any case, Democrats did not decide to investigate Nickolaus, the Director of the Government Accountability Board did.
posted by dhartung at 10:30 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Delmoi has not said it won't or shouldn't be investigated. His point is that any discrepancy will be quickly found in an investigation so there is no need to panic.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:59 AM on April 9, 2011


delmoi is mistaking upset and frustration for panic, then. I'm still frustrated even if her intent was completely innocent, because she's obviously incompetent. I'm upset because she's had her incompetence pointed out to her, multiple times, and nothing has been done about it. There doesn't need to be some massive conspiracy for me to be upset and frustrated.
posted by desjardins at 9:13 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


He has not said not to take it seriously or be angry. He has said to lighten up about the possibility of actual fraud, which seems remote in this case, even while you take it seriously and investigate and count.

In Franken's race in Minnesota actual ballots were left unattended in someone's trunk, this shit happens, there is a process to figure out if there is foul play.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 PM on April 9, 2011


Yeah, I'm not saying there shouldn't be a full investigation and recount. There should be. But unless another set of missing votes shows up, it won't change anything. And, standards should be updated in the future.

In addition, it would be a good idea for each precinct to post it's own results online after they are submitted, so that people can run their own totals.
posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another Nickolaus mistake:

A push of the wrong computer key resulted in all votes being counted twice in Tuesday's Assembly District 33 primary, but the mistake did not change the outcome of the race, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Wednesday.
posted by drezdn at 4:49 PM on April 10, 2011


Black Box Voting weighs in.
posted by drezdn at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that thing about the ballots in the trunk? It was a lie. But, looks like it has pervaded to the point of being accepted. *sigh*


Election Day in Minneapolis had been chaotic, especially the absentee ballots. There were a record number, and Reichert's (elections director in Minneapolis) staff spent the day processing them. Some overseas absentee votes didn't arrive at Reichert's office until an hour before polls closed.

In Minnesota, absentee ballots are processed at the precinct level, meaning those that arrive on Election Day have to be delivered to any of 131 precinct locations in the city. Using the city's snow emergency hot line, Reichert had created an automated voice messaging system for all precincts and alerted them not to close the polls until all the absentee votes arrived.

Not everyone got the message, and the city didn't deliver every absentee ballot to the precincts before they closed. In all, there were 32 ballots left over.

They were returned to City Hall, but Reichert couldn't count them right away. She needed the voter registries from precincts so she could make sure the absentee voter didn't show up at the polls on Election Day and vote in person. And those registries, which are locked in the voting machines, were slow in arriving.

But by Friday, Minnesota's most liberal city was ready to open and count 32 additional, validly cast ballots. The campaigns and the public were keenly aware of how close the race was, and the Coleman campaign reacted swiftly.

"I let (the campaigns) know we were going to be working on Saturday. And they said, 'Really? What are you doing on Saturday?' And I said we're going to count the ballots that didn't get counted on Election Day. 'What do you meeeean ballots didn't get counted!' " Reichert recalled.

After learning of the development, Knaak called Ramsey County Chief District Judge Kathleen Gearin at home Friday night to tell her the Coleman campaign would be filing a case over Minneapolis' decision to count the ballots. Gearin had been hosting a dinner party and — maybe it was the wine — had a hard time taking Knaak seriously.

"I said: 'This is a joke. You've got to be kidding,' " Gearin said. "It took him a while to convince me that this really was serious."

Gearin quickly hung up, vowing not to speak to either campaign unless both were present.

On Saturday morning, the recount landed in court for the first time.

The proceedings were hectic, and Lillehaug was peeved at the emergency hearing — he'd been taking his dog to the vet when he got the call. A harried Reichert did not hear when Knaak told Gearin he thought the ballots had been in Reichert's car.

While state election law assigns many of the burdens of litigation to Ramsey County, on this particular issue Gearin ruled that she didn't have jurisdiction over Minneapolis. The importance of what was about to happen had already dawned on Gearin, and she admonished everyone — "as a citizen, as well as a judge," she said — to proceed carefully.

Meanwhile, the story that Reichert had been driving around with the ballots in her trunk spread like wildfire, from blogs to Fox News, feeding a suspicion that the fix was in for Franken. Reichert learned about it for the first time after walking out of Ramsey County court, when a lawyer for the city told her.

She was upset. Stoked when Gov. Tim Pawlenty mentioned it during a news conference, the story called her integrity and her competence into question, and it still lingers despite Knaak's almost immediate insistence that there was nothing to it.

"My mom called and said: 'Put on Fox News! They're going to be talking about Minneapolis elections!' I thought, 'Oh, gee, wonder what this is?' " Reichert said.

What she saw alarmed her.

"They've got a picture of an open car trunk on one side with an arrow pointing in it, and a picture of Al Franken with his angry fist up on the other side, and they're reporting that I've been driving around with ballots in my car," Reichert said.

Reichert doesn't even own a car — she drives an SUV. It doesn't have a trunk. Yet more than any other, this story has persisted as an emblem that there was something very wrong with Minnesota's 2008 recount. (pioneer press 11/07/2010)
posted by edgeways at 9:38 AM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Interesting, I was aware there was no actual wrongdoing which is why I used it as an example there but I didn't know it was entirely false.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:58 AM on April 11, 2011


statement of Waukesha Democratic Party canvass observer (Ramona Kitzinger)

"...Kathy didn't offer an explanation about why she didn't mention anything prior to Thursday afternoon's canvass completion, but showed us different tapes where numbers seemed to add up, though I have no idea where the numbers were coming from. I was not told of the magnitude of this error, just that she had made one. I was then instructed that I would not say anything at the press conference, and was actually surprised when I was asked questions by reporters.

The reason I offer this explanation is that, with the enormous amount of attention this has received over the weekend, many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the "numbers jibed" as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy. As I told Kathy when I was called into the room - I am 80 years old and I don't understand anything about computers. I don't know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up. I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn't even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy's statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up.
"
posted by flex at 12:06 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am 80 years old and I don't understand anything about computers.

Skygazer nailed it.
posted by desjardins at 12:22 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Skygazer nailed it.

Awesome.

I get to wear my socks another day.

Now, the GAB needs to count all the vote from Waukasha and get rid of this woman from her office by recommending to Walker he fire her.

And let him take the political hit, when he refuses.
posted by Skygazer at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strange numbers in Milwaukee and Waukesha.
posted by drezdn at 3:47 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I do think she was purposely holding back those +14K votes for a reason, even if the numbers "jibe" now, I'm just not sure what that is although I have some suspicions.

Question: If Prosser had won the election Wednesday night, would she have ever admitted to her 'human error"? I think not. Even though she would've still had to make it public, I think she could've found a way to cover the whole thing up and quietly make it a non-event. I wonder about that, because if that was possible than I think other more malevolent things are possible.

I'm still at a loss as to why the AP has made no statement yet, as to where it got its numbers for the election count. The county clerks in each county or from the individual tally's put up by each town or precinct. Brookfield clearly had it's numbers up by a little bit after Midnight on the night of the election.
posted by Skygazer at 3:53 PM on April 11, 2011


More strange numbers from Waukesha.
posted by drezdn at 5:51 AM on April 12, 2011


96% turnout in Waukesha in 2004?
posted by drezdn at 5:53 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


first criminal probe of Walker's tenure seems likely
posted by edgeways at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2011


Ballots cast in the wrong race in Brookfield in 2010. Guess who was responsible?
posted by drezdn at 7:01 PM on April 12, 2011


Asterixes everywhere.
posted by drezdn at 6:52 AM on April 13, 2011


Kathy Nickolaus is a gift that won't stop giving.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2011


When are official investigations going to move in and stop this woman from adding more asterisks to 5 year old election results?

The longer it all is on hold, the more damage and covering-up she's going to accomplish.
posted by hippybear at 8:14 AM on April 13, 2011


I'd really like someone to do statistical analysis of voting in Waukesha County before Nickolaus was Clerk and after.
posted by drezdn at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see some close examination of *all* districts. If someone as stupid as Kathy can faux up an election, all results everywhere are suspect.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:02 PM on April 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear: The longer it all is on hold, the more damage and covering-up she's going to accomplish.

True, but it seems like each time it's some sort of "human error" in transferring the numbers fully and accurately to her software and computers. It's her go to excuse for every irregularity, which again either betrays her ineptitude and incompetence in understanding how to properly do that, or her arrogance in thinking that most people's understanding of computers is as limited as Ramona Kitzinger's, the Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers.

Or what is more likely the case, she's both incompetent and arrogant, and has too much power and not enough oversight.

She can't blame everything on the technology (As stupid as it is to even refer to something as basic as MS Office as, "technology').

Anyhow, this is the kind of nonsense that makes people upset with state workers, and I find insanely ironic that it's people like this woman who give Unions a bad name. They're Right-wing holier-than-thou, biblet humpers (which is what she is), and "soldiers for the unborn" or something like that, that got their jobs through political favor and either can barely do them or are willing to distort things for their political masters, thinking they're somehow smarter than Democrats.

But I bet this woman can talk a blue streak about those teachers and other "freeloading" union workers. She's a hypocrite, with much too much power.
posted by Skygazer at 10:44 AM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Admits that Stripping Collective Bargaining Rights of Workers “Not a Fiscal Issue” – Does Not Save Taxpayers “Any” Money
Kucinich Proves Political Motivation of Attack on Government Workers
posted by Floydd at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sarah Palin to be keynote speaker at Americans for Prosperity rally at Capitol in Madison

c'mon, Badger Mefites...let's show Bible Spice and the Teabaggers whose house this is !!!
posted by g.i.r. at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


BRAD Blog has an interesting run down on the Nickolaus situation.
posted by drezdn at 6:08 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's provocative of her to show up in Madison right with her "real Americans" bullshit that she usually spouts off, and that Walker said after what seemed like Kloppenberg winning, when he said Madison wasn't the real world or some inflammatory horseshit like that.

This woman, man. What a fucking gold digging political whore and a slimy creep. I wouldn't be surprised if AFP is in fact looking for a real physical confrontation.

So careful out there badger-folk.
posted by Skygazer at 6:08 PM on April 14, 2011


State investigating vote irregularities in Waukesha County going back 5 years
posted by scody at 9:09 PM on April 14, 2011


mr. desjardins came up with an idea: t-shirts for not-Dane counties that voted for Kloppenburg. They'd say "I'm from the OTHER Madison" with a map showing their county on the back.
posted by desjardins at 8:19 AM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


If I can get the hang of CafePress or one of those other sites, I may slap something up there this weekend. I have Photoshop and Illustrator. It'd definitely have to be print-on-demand, I'm doubting there will be a ton of demand from, say, Pepin County, pop. 7358. Interesting note, when I was looking for the population of Pepin Co., I stumbled across this: "John McCain is believed to have been the first European to settle in this county." Huh.
posted by desjardins at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2011


"John McCain is believed to have been the first European to settle in this county." Huh.

Vampire!
posted by EarBucket at 12:09 PM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


GAB Board releases review of Waukesha County vote tally
posted by hippybear at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2011


WKOW confirms that the Kloppenburg campaign has filed recount papers with the GAB. Press conference at 4:00 PM to be livestreamed on the WKOW site.
posted by yomimono at 1:53 PM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I'm not sure it'll change the outcome, I'm glad Kloppenburg is seeking a recount.
posted by drezdn at 5:30 PM on April 20, 2011


Kloppenburg campaign manager Melissa Mulliken has filed a criminal complaint alleging violations of election law by Kathy Nickolaus, most of them previously detailed above. Most of them are Class I (the letter I) felonies; a few are Class H.
posted by dhartung at 1:09 PM on April 21, 2011


Kathy's Special Software

The "Judicial Independence" of Justice David T. Prosser

GAB to announce Supreme Court election recount starting Wednesday
posted by hippybear at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Waukesha County Clerk Will Not Oversee Supreme Court Recount

Waukesha County Has Recounted Just 2 Percent of Votes

Election recount in Waukesha does not begin as planned
posted by hippybear at 1:47 PM on April 28, 2011


Kloppenburg Recall Campaign Calls in Attorney to Monitor Recount

Waukesha County Won't Finish Supreme Court Recount On Time

Prosser Has Net Gain With 10% of Waukesha County's Votes Recounted
posted by hippybear at 9:15 PM on May 3, 2011


And... somewhat related...

Wisconsin Republicans rush agenda before recalls
posted by hippybear at 11:34 AM on May 7, 2011


It's going to be interesting how the next elections go. Surely there will be either acquiescence or a big kick in the opposite direction, undoing the damage and then some. Maybe. I hope?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 PM on May 7, 2011


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