Updated: WI Conservative County Clerk With History of Voting Irregularities Finds More Than 7,500 Votes for Prosser
Update: Apparently Prosser has hired recount attorney Ben Ginsberg, of Bush v. Gore infamy, who also presided over the 2008 Norm Coleman/Al Franken recount in Minnesota. In other words, he's the man when it comes to conservatives seeking a recount. As ThinkProgress puts it, Ginsberg is bringing his "cavalier attitude towards the Constitution and voting rights to bear in order to ensure that Justice Prosser is still empowered to decide equal protection and voting rights cases for the many Wisconsin residents who will bring cases before his court."
Update 2:Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com (a reputable guy) thinks the found votes are legit, according to Steve Benen. So it may just be incompetence at play here. But Benen asks, rightly:
But just for the sake of conversation, I'd love to know what the reaction would be -- from Republicans, on Fox News, etc. -- if the situation were reversed. Imagine there was a close, important race and the conservative candidate eked out a narrow win, and the very next day, a Democratic donor with a sketchy election record discovered 7,000 additional votes for the liberal.
Update 3:The Kloppenburg campaign reportedly plans to file an open records request in Nickolaus' county, seeking a "full explanation of how and why these 14,000 votes from an entire City were missed."
The Wisconsin Supreme Court race has heated up again -- in a fishy, fishy way. Earlier this week we reported that underdog JoAnne Kloppenburg, a left-leaning environmental lawyer, had narrowly defeated conservative incumbent David Prosser, who had been considered a shoo-in for reelection up until his ally, Gov. Scott Walker, launched his anti-worker agenda earlier this year. The win was hailed as a victory for the pro-labor movement and has buoyed hopes that recall efforts against Republican lawmakers in the state will be successful.
In Wisconsin, election results as close as those in Tuesday's Supreme Court election initially appeared (Kloppenburg reportedly won by only a few hundred votes) would trigger a state-sponsored recount. But if the margin is as wide as Republicans are now claiming, a candidate requesting a recount would have to pay for it herself.
This is where things have gotten suspicious. Chris Bowers at the Daily Kos wrote last night:
The vote totals in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race swung back and forth today, first with incumbent Justice David Prosser taking the lead, then with challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg taking it back by 125 votes.
The latest, and by far most disturbing, development is that a clerk in Wisconsin's biggest conservative country has suddenly "found" a huge amount of votes for Prosser.
Reportedly, the Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus didn't find just any random number of votes -- she discovered exactly 7,582 ballots... and Prosser needed 7,500 votes to come out ahead in the recount. Here's Kos' Cieran:
In WI, a recount at state-expense is triggered if an election is within .5% if the candidate requests it, and we have a fully verifiable paper trail to audit election results. That means in this election with approximately 740k for Kloppenburg and 739k for Prosser, the vote gets recounted at state-expense if the election is within ~7400 votes.
So the last 2 days the WI-GOP has been scrambling trying to figure out how they can still get Prosser into office. What was the result of their brain-storming? Add a few extra votes in a friendly area (Waukesha), and call it a clerical error. But in order to steal the election, they NEED to be able to keep a recount from occurring, because a recount would expose their attempted fraud to the light of day.
So they couldn't just give Prosser a couple hundred to put him barely in the lead by 40. They had to give him more than 7500 in order to get above the threshold for a free recount, so that the only way for a recount to happen would be if Kloppenburg ponies up the money for a state-wide recount, which could be expensive. Granted, all of us in WI would be happy to donate to a potential recount effort if it gets to that point, but the resolve of the Kloppenburg camp remains to be seen.
Bowers points us to evidence that Nickolaus has a history of voting irregularities. According to one report, she once raised a red flag when she "decided to take the election data collection and storage system off the county's computer network - and keep it on stand-alone personal computers accessible only in her office." And a WSJ reporter tweeted that Nickolaus "was granted immunity after the state's caucus scandal. She was then an Assembly Republican Caucus employee."
The blog One Wisconsin Now has even more information on what's going down in Waukesha County:
The County auditors said it was eminently possible -- including historical precedent -- for Nickolaus or a rogue employee to tamper with data. Why? Nickolaus insists on controlling password access and has unilaterally decided to move sensitive files, like election results, onto her personal computer....
On Tuesday, shockingly-large turnout suddenly emerged from Waukesha County, which did not comport with either the results of previous spring elections, or even internal estimates from city officials mid-day. In fact, a Waukesha City Deputy Clerk said at 1:18pm that turnout was very typical, predicting somewhere between 20 to 25 percent. As Tuesday night wore on, reporting in Waukesha County stopped altogether for hours, leaving observers to wonder what was going on. Then suddenly, results suggesting massive turnout started to pour in rapidly with Prosser adding dramatically to his total by a 73-27 percent margin.
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.