Kathy Nickolaus, Republican operative elected as Waukesha County Clerk, says she didn’t hit “save” for 7500 votes for Prosser.
Prosser gains 7,500 votes in Waukesha County after inputting error
Associated Press, State Journal staff madison.com Posted: Thursday, April 7
WAUKESHA — Incumbent Justice David Prosser gained a 7,500-vote lead in the hotly contested state Supreme Court race Thursday after the clerk in conservative-leaning Waukesha County announced she had undercounted votes due to an inputting error.
If the new results stand, they would swing the election to Prosser after unofficial results Wednesday showed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg was the winner with a 204-vote lead out of nearly 1.5 million votes cast.
The new totals showed Prosser with 92,263 votes in Waukesha County, while Kloppenburg had 32,758.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said the votes weren’t reported to The Associated Press on Tuesday due to “human error.”
“This is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found,” she said. “This is human error, which I apologize for.”
The missing numbers were all from the city of Brookfield, Nickolaus said. Nickolaus said she discovered the error Wednesday. 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.”
Before the announcement, it was assumed the race between Prosser, a 68-year-old conservative justice, and Kloppenburg, a liberal assistant state attorney general, was headed for a recount. But Prosser’s lead is likely to stand if the new numbers hold up through canvassing in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
Opponents of the union rights law had hoped a Kloppenburg victory would set the stage for the high court to strike it down.
Messages left with both Kloppenburg and Prosser’s campaigns were not immediately returned.
The count was corrected on the first day that counties were in the process of verifying unofficial vote totals reported Tuesday. The race was so close, despite 1.5 million votes being cast, that the lead flipped back and forth repeatedly on election day and in the days after as those preliminary totals were checked and updated.
Gov. Scott Walker told The Associated Press before details of the new votes were announced that voters will demand transparency.
“The overriding principle has got to be that every vote that was legally cast in Wisconsin needs to be counted,” Walker said.
The surprise discovery of votes that could give Prosser the win and quash any recount before it starts already had liberal groups crying foul.
“There is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding the Waukesha County Clerk and there remain unanswered questions,” said Scot Ross, director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.
Nickolaus has come under scrutiny before.
Last year, county officials raised objections to her practice of storing election data off the county’s computer network, instead keeping it on computers in her office, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The practice prevented the county’s information technology specialists from verifying that the system was secure from failing, the county’s director of administration said at the time. Auditors later recommended that Nickolaus improve security and backup procedures.
In 2001, Nickolaus was granted immunity to testify about her role as a computer analyst for the Assembly Republican Caucus, then under investigation — along with the Senate Republican Caucus and the Democratic caucuses for both houses — for using state resources to secretly run campaigns.
Nickolaus, a seven-year employee of the ARC, headed up an effort to develop a computer program that averaged the performance of Republicans in statewide races by ward.