Prosser Regains Lead As Wisconsin Supreme Court Vote Counting Continues

The race between David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court isn’t quite over yet:

Madison – Wisconsin’s whipsaw of a Supreme Court election kept jiggling Thursday, as the first statewide recount in two decades loomed and the ongoing process of officially counting ballots appeared to swing the unofficial winner from the challenger to the incumbent.

Around the state, elections officials Thursday were tweaking unofficial results from the day before that had put challenger and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg ahead of incumbent David Prosser by a razor-thin 204 votes. But the new figures appearing to put Prosser ahead were also far from final and could change multiple times before the contest is finished.

Brian Nemoir, campaign manager for Prosser, said he expects the totals to remain fluid.

“Everything we’re hearing right now indicates that we’re going to be in a recount,” Nemoir said. “There’s not anything that’s going to decide this today or tomorrow.”

Indeed not.

Update: Now there are reports that an Election Day computer error may have made this result seem closer than it really is:

After Tuesday night’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a computer error in heavily Republican Waukesha County failed to send election results for the entire City of Brookfield to the Associated Press. The error, revealed today, would give incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser a net 7,381 votes against his challenger, attorney Joanne Kloppenburg. On Wednesday, Kloppenburg declared victory after the AP reported she finished the election with a 204-vote lead, out of nearly 1.5 million votes cast.

On election night, AP results showed a turnout of 110,000 voters in Waukesha County — well short of the 180,000 voters that turned out last November, and 42 percent of the county’s total turnout.  By comparison, nearly 90 percent of Dane County voters who cast a ballot in November turned out to vote for Kloppenburg.

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.

If this is for real, then Prosser not only wins but Kloppenburg loses her statutory right to a recount.

By the way, if there is any better example of the need for reform in the way we conduct elections, its the fact that the City of Brookfield, Wisconsin was apparently keeping track of its election figures on “an antiquated personal computer.”

 

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    Voter Fraud! Republican Thugs! Whatever the conservative version of ACORN is!

  2. Tlaloc says:

    If this is for real, then Prosser not only wins but Kloppenburg loses her statutory right to a recount.

    Wait why does she lose the right to a recount? Wouldn’t that even precisely give her cause to get one? I mean you have votes that were not reported and then suddenly added after the fact, that seems to at least warrant a second look to make sure everything is on the up and up.

  3. G.A.Phillips says:

    SWING!!!!!

  4. Axel Edgren says:

    7,000 lost votes were just found in one of the most strongly pro-Prosser counties in Wisconsin that just HAPPENS to be run by a Republican county clerk who just HAPPENS to want to, among other things, save all the vote totals on her own personal computer. She has also been criticized for not keeping equipment up to snuff.

    I’m not accusing, but this pretty much demands an investigation.

  5. Trumwill says:

    Wait why does she lose the right to a recount?

    It would be because the new talley would put Prosser above and beyond the threshold needed for an automatic recount. However, the NR article states that Kloppenburg is free to demand a recount anyway. The main difference is that she would have to pay for it. If she’s worried that the “newfound votes” from Waukesha are illegitimate, it would probably be worth her (or the Party’s) money to demand it.

    I imagine at this point statistical analysts from both parties will be going over the numbers. Were the results this time around comparable to November’s? Was the margin of victory comparable? Was the participation rate comparable to the last April election? I suspect that they will figure it out soon enough. This involves a lot of votes and if there is an anomaly, Kloppenburg and the state and national parties will act on that. Heck, even if they determine that it’s legit, they may bankroll a recount anyway.

  6. Whatever the conservative version of ACORN is!

    Americans for Prosperity. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  7. WisKid says:

    Well I am not going to start throwing around accusations like these Republicans but this does not pass the smell test.

    It just so happens that one of the reddest parts of the state magically came up with an extra 11000 votes that were being stored on some partisan hacks (yes she donated to the GOP) “antiquated personal computer”?

    That seems WAY fishy to me.

  8. Axel Edgren says:

    some partisan hacks (yes she donated to the GOP)

    Eeeeh come on now. Donations is not hackery. Stupid, yes, because she donates to the wrong party. But let us not throw words everywhere.

    Anyway: Investigation. Anyone who says anything else is just wasting everyone’s time.

  9. Trumwill says:

    That seems WAY fishy to me.

    Me, too, but if something is amiss I suspect a statistical analysis will uncover it pretty quickly. You don’t just find 14,000 votes with a 7,000 vote disparity in a city of 40,000 without it raising some real red flags on analysis (unless, of course, those were the 14,000 votes of the town, in which case no red flags will be presented and the results are likely close to legit).

  10. tps says:

    Its no more fishy then here in Minnesota when a trunk full of ballets that just happen to be for Al Franken were found and allowed to be counted.

  11. wr says:

    Gosh, I seem to recall a bunch of right wingers screaming about how a few thousand extra votes would magically appear, and that would prove voter fraud. Now that it’s happened, those voices are silence. Is it possible that they don’t really care about the integrity of elections at all, merely whether or not their side wins?

  12. Trumwill says:

    Maybe even quicker than I thought:

    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. 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.

  13. Axel Edgren says:

    Once again: investigation. That’s all anyone reasonable should say looking at the current situation.

  14. Trumwill says:

    Axel, I largely agree, though people are investigating it as we speak (see above, also: Nate Silver seems to be tweeting that the new totals are credible). Nobody should have their mind made up, but more information is good.

  15. PD Shaw says:

    Wow, Neil Hudelson’s had the inside scope this morning:

    Voter Fraud! Stealing the election! Union thugs!

    And this evevening:

    Voter Fraud! Republican Thugs! Whatever the conservative version of ACORN is!

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Trumwill, an additional 15% turnout for this type of election doesn’t seem like an outlier to me, particularly if turnout in the neighboring Dane county was 90%. The story seems a little thin.

  17. PD Shaw says:

    Interestingly, Ann Althouse thought the County was underreported when votes were reported on election night. Not scientific, but interesting.

  18. PD Shaw says:

    I think what they are saying at Althouse is that while watching the returns for the county, they saw what the votes were with X out of Y precincts had reported, and then the next time when all of the precincts were shown reporting (Y out of Y), the vote totals hadn’t changed. This seems to be consistent with the idea that none of the votes for some of the precincts were actually conveyed on election night.

  19. Trumwill says:

    Trumwill, an additional 15% turnout for this type of election doesn’t seem like an outlier to me,

    It will simply have to be compared to turnout in other (particularly conservative) counties. If turnout was up across the board, then yeah, probably nothing to it. There are a lot of ways to spot irregularities here. That’s why I feel pretty confident that we will have a pretty good idea of whether or not this is legit in the next day or two.

    Ultimately, I think in Nate Silver I will trust. If he says the numbers make sense, I’ll believe it. If he says that the numbers represent something strange going on, I will become very skeptical of this.

  20. wr says:

    Still waiting for the righties to insist this is vote fraud, since it’s exactly what they predicted.

  21. msb says:

    Kathy Nickolaus was hired at the Capitol years ago by….get ready…David Prosser. And she was granted immunity from prosecution to testify during the 2002 GOP Assembly caucus investigations, where she worked in the illegal GOP caucus. And now she runs elections in Waukesha County? Fishy enough to be investigated.

  22. jwest says:

    Moving along to what this all actually means…

    This Wisconsin Supreme Court seat was the sole focus of the most powerful liberal groups, unionized teachers and government workers, backed by all the other left-wing forces nationally. Democrats went into this election with their base pumped up to a fever pitch. This was the election that was going to show that Walker and the republicans had over reached and that the traditionally liberal citizens of Wisconsin were ready to come home to the Democrat party.

    And they lost.

    Without Wisconsin, Obama can’t possibly win reelection. If the resources of the entire democrat party, along with every left-wing activist group in the country couldn’t pull off enough votes to win this election, Obama is toast.

    Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm.

  23. Axel Edgren says:

    Overdoing it. You need to be a bit understated if you want to demotivate the others with gloating.

    Example:

    “This was THE election that was going to show that Walker and the republicans had over reached and that the traditionally liberal citizens of Wisconsin were ready to come home to the Democrat party.”

    Not THE. One of the.

  24. PJ says:

    @jwest:

    Without Wisconsin, Obama can’t possibly win reelection. If the resources of the entire democrat party, along with every left-wing activist group in the country couldn’t pull off enough votes to win this election, Obama is toast.

    Prosser is an incumbent. This election shouldn’t have been this close. Sure, partisan republican commenters will be giddy about the results on blogs. Republican strategists aren’t happy about the result, even if Prosser is reelected. May I remind you that the seat formerly occupied by Walker is now occupied by a Democrat. And that election was nothing but close.

  25. mantis says:

    jwest says
    Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 16:38

    Maybe those folks at Althouse are curious as to how every close election seems to be decided by the results from late-reporting (democrat) precincts, or from votes found in the trunks of cars that just happen to always be for the “D” candidate.

    Care to revisit that, jwest?

  26. Dustin says:

    One month ago this wasn’t even an campaign for Prosser, it was no contest for him. He was barely on the campaign trail and he won the primary by 30% over Kloppenburg. The fact that this became a race at all should concern the Republicans.

    As PJ points out, Walker’s previous County Executive seat went to a “Democrat”, in huge numbers, 61% – 39%. Jeff Stone voted for the budget repair bill twice, had statements that said he shared philosophies with Walker, and would use Walker as a blueprint.

    Also, the second of the eight recall attempts against the Republicans was completed yesterday. I’ve been hearing they expect to complete six of the eight.

  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    PD,

    That deep, carefully paced, thoughtful analysis is what I’m known for. Any article on voting issues, and I’m ready to really delve into the specifics and find out what’s really going on. Rest assured, next article on voting issues, and I’ll write a similar type report.

  28. Don says:

    The Democrat in charge verified the results and said point blank, this was legitimate. They didn’t get that counties votes included in the original count and now it’s been corrected!