In the latest development in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, the state Government Accountability Board — which oversees elections — has announced that it has sent staff to Waukesha County, to review procedures after a sudden shift in the vote count gave incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser a gain of over 7,500 voters, pushing him into the lead.
“I have been in close contact with Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus since her news conference on Thursday, and have directed her to make the official returns from the polling places available for public inspection,” GAB director Kevin Kennedy announced in a statement. “These documents are public records. I believe she is now taking steps to ensure transparency and public confidence in the official results.”
The statement also adds: “We have confidence in Wisconsin’s county and municipal clerks, and do not believe any of them would do anything illegal to jeopardize their own reputation, or Wisconsin’s reputation for clean, fair and transparent elections.”
In addition, as Jessica Arp from the local CBS affiliate in Madison reports, Kennedy told reporters Friday afternoon that that GAB was not informed by Waukesha about the problem until Thursday, before Nickolaus’s press conference. Had the GAB known about it Wednesday — when Nickolaus says she first discovered the matter — Kennedy said they would have gone to the county in order to oversee the canvass, and let the press and campaigns know about it at that time.
In the unofficial results given by the counties to the Associated Press after the election, Kloppenburg led by 204 votes, and on that basis she declared victory on Wednesday.
But then on Thursday, as the official canvassing process was moving forward — in which counties review their polling place results from the optical ballot-scan machines, and are likely to make some amount of corrections — Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus (R) announced that a computer inputting error had resulted in the omission of the town of Brookfield’s 14,000-plus votes.
“I’m thankful that this error was caught early in the process and during the canvass,” Nickolaus said Thursday, at a press conference in which she was joined by both the Republican and Democratic members of the county canvassing board.
The county’s overall adjusted totals gave Prosser a net gain of 7,582 votes — an unusually high change for a recanvass, which has many Democrats crying foul. Both campaigns have now recruited top-tier attorneys with experience from the epic 2008 Minnesota Senate race recount and litigation, and the Kloppenburg campaign has announced that it will seek all relevant records from Waukesha.
According to WisPolitics, the most up to date total of the official canvass, Prosser has a lead of 7,075 votes — which is in fact still within the 0.5% margin that would entitle Kloppenburg to request a recount at state and local expense.