Wazzup in Wisconsin?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo

Katherine Harris wannabe (?) Kathy Nickolaus (shown at top, above an image of the actual Katherine Harris), a Repugnican Tea Party county clerk in a Repugnican Tea Party-leaning county in Wisconsin, announces on Thursday that she’d overlooked 14,000 votes in her initial report of her county’s vote tally in the state’s Supreme Court election on Tuesday. Her “human error,” she claimed, put the Repugnican Tea Party incumbent “Justice” David Prosser more than 7,500 votes ahead of his progressive opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg. Nickolaus has a scandalous history, and her claims are being investigated.

It’s been a rocky week in Wisconsin. First, progressive Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg was named the preliminary winner of the election for the seat in the state’s Supreme Court currently held by stupid white man and Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott “Dead Man” Walker ally David Prosser — by only 204 votes out of about 1.5 million votes cast.

Then, a Repugnican Tea Party county clerk, Kathy Nickolaus of Waukesha County, on Thursday announced that oopsie — in her initial report of her county’s vote tallies, she’d overlooked some 14,000 votes, which, she later discovered, actually put Prosser ahead of Kloppenburg by more than 7,500 votes.

Nickolaus has a scandalous, partisan history, so at the time I took — and I still take — her announcement of an “oopsie” with a fucking grain of salt. The 2000 presidential election — and the 2004 presidential election, too, as well as other elections, such as the election for the U.S. Senate in Alaska in November — have demonstrated amply that Repugnican Tea Party candidates and operatives have no problem stealing elections.

Thankfully, apparently Nickolaus isn’t going to get away with the world just taking her word for it; investigation of her claims is under way, and the election won’t be certified until the investigation is finished.

Reports The Christian Science Monitor:

Questions are being raised in Wisconsin regarding the party ties of a local county clerk whose discovery of about 14,000 unrecorded votes is assuring a victory for the Republican incumbent in last week’s election for state Supreme Court. A federal investigation into the matter was requested late Friday night.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus became the center of the controversy Thursday when she announced she failed to record the votes of Brookfield, a city located outside Milwaukee that typically leans Republican.

Her actions turned the tables of the election, which was being tracked as an informal referendum on the policies of Gov. Scott Walker (R).

For nearly two months, Wisconsin has been in the national spotlight regarding a bill Gov. Walker introduced that erodes union power in the state.

Late last month, a circuit court judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the bill from becoming law, saying more time was needed to review the procedure Senate Republicans took to push the bill through in order to make it law. …

The case will likely end up being decided by the state’s Supreme Court, which brought unprecedented attention on last Tuesday’s election, pitting incumbent Justice David Prosser, backed by Republicans, and Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, favored by Democrats.

Before Nickolaus announced her mistake, Kloppenburg seemed headed for victory. She had a 204-vote lead out of 1.5 million votes cast and a recount was in the works.

The unrecorded ballots discovered Thursday favor Prosser, putting him ahead by 7,500 votes. Nickolaus told reporters that her mistake was “human error” and she apologized.

Nickolaus is now under scrutiny for her ties to the state’s Republican party. She worked as a data analyst and computer specialist for the state’s Republican caucus for 13 years, a time window that included Prosser’s brief tenure as Assembly speaker in 1995 and 1996.

A 2002 corruption probe investigating state employees working on campaigns on state time led to indictments of five legislative leaders, but Nickolaus received immunity from prosecutors and resigned that same year.

As circuit clerk of the Waukesha County Board, she was criticized for not being cooperative with the county’s director of administration, resulting in an audit following the 2010 election that showed she failed to follow proper security and backup procedures and would not share passwords with her superiors. [Emphasis mine.]

But wait; the’re more:

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) of Wisconsin is asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a federal investigation into the handling of votes in Waukesha County. In a letter sent Friday night, Rep. Baldwin [stated that she] wants the Justice Department Public Integrity Section, which investigates election crime, to see if votes were mishandled following Tuesday’s election.

“Numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one,” she wrote. “They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results.” [Emphasis mine.]

State Democrat leaders are also calling for investigations into the matter and Kloppenburg announced she would raise money for a recount. State Rep. Peter Barca told the Green Bay Post-Gazette Friday that Nickolaus’ actions “doesn’t instill confidence in her competence or integrity.”

Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a non-partisan and non-profit advocacy group, said in a statement that his state “deserves elections that are fair, clean and transparent” and that “there is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding [Nickolaus] and there remain unanswered questions.”

Election night numbers are not yet verified in the election as 12 of the state’s 72 counties have not yet finalized the canvass process, which is expected to take place late next week. Once that is complete, candidates have three days to file a request for a recount.

Prosser told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he “met [Nickolaus] a number of times in the last few months” but did not remember whether or not she worked for him during his time as Assembly speaker.

“I can’t say it didn’t happen, but I don’t remember,” he said.

Why Prosser met (with?) Nickolaus “a number of times in the last few months” is interesting; what business a state Supreme Court “justice” would have meeting (with?) a county’s top elections official escapes me.

There also is a Reuters news story that reports that the Wisconsin Supreme Court election results won’t be certified until a state investigation into Nickolaus’ alleged “oopsie” is completed:

The [state] agency overseeing Wisconsin elections will not certify results of Tuesday’s state Supreme Court race until it concludes a probe into how a county clerk misplaced and then found some 14,000 votes that upended the contest.

Michael Haas, Government Accountability Board staff attorney, told Reuters on Friday the watchdog agency was looking into vote tabulation errors in Republican-leaning Waukesha County which gave the conservative incumbent a net gain of more than 7,000 votes — a lead his union-backed challenger seems unlikely to surmount.

“We’re going to do a review of the procedures and the records in Waukesha before we certify the statewide results,” Haas said. “It’s not that we necessarily expect to find anything criminal. But we want to make sure the public has confidence in the results.” [Emphasis mine.]

Unofficial returns in the statewide race had given the challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, a narrow 204 vote statewide lead over David Prosser, a former Republican legislator.

But late Thursday, the top vote counter in Waukesha County said votes she had failed to report in earlier totals resulted in a net gain of 7,582 votes for Prosser in the county.

News of the uncounted votes came as officials throughout Wisconsin were conducting county canvasses, a final review of voting records that allows the state to certify this week’s bitterly contested elections.

The Supreme Court contest was widely seen as a referendum on Republican Governor Scott Walker and the curbs on collective bargaining he and his allies passed in the legislature. …

If Prosser wins, Kloppenburg has the right to ask for a recount — though based on the current tally, Wisconsin law may require she pay for it herself.

In a statement, Kloppenburg said her campaign had filed an open records requests “for all relevant documentation related to the reporting of election results in Waukesha County, as well as to the discovery and reporting of the errors announced by the county.”

Under Wisconsin law, county clerks have until Friday, April 15, to complete the canvass and report the results to the GAB. Once results from all 72 counties are in, a three-day period begins for candidates to request a recount. If there are no delays connected to a recount, the board’s deadline for certifying the results is May 15.

It’s possible that Nickolaus is just incompetent, but given her scandalous history and her history of activism within the Repugnican Tea Party, I’m happy that multiple parties — not just Kloppenburg, but also U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board — are looking into what happened in her county and aren’t just taking her word for it.

If indeed Nickolaus is found guilty of election fraud, I hope that she’s thrown into prison for many, many years. Election fraud by an elections official isn’t just felonious; it’s a fucking treasonous betrayal of the people’s interests and confidence.

Even if Nickolaus is cleared of wrongdoing, if the certified results of the election declare Prosser the winner and fall within the margin for a recount by Wisconsin state law — up to a 0.5 percent vote-tally difference between Kloppenburg and Prosser for a free recount, and from a 0.5 percent to a 2.0 percent difference for a candidate-funded recount (with the candidate requesting the recount the one who has to pay for it) — I hope that Kloppenburg pursues a recount effort to the full extent of Wisconsin state law. It’s been too fucking fishy for her not to, and if she needs any money to pay for the recount, I’ll be more than happy to chip in.

One Katherine Harris was bad enough.

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