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Vote-count mishap in Wisconsin election raises eyebrows, distrust

Some 14,000 votes went unreported Tuesday night in a hot election – the latest battleground for Republicans vs. labor unions. Democrats cry foul as the seat tilts toward the incumbent, a conservative. Experts, though, say such errors are common.

By Aaron CouchContributor / April 8, 2011

Justice David Prosser, speaks to supporters at the Seven Seas Restaurant Tuesday in Waukesha Wis. The results of Tuesday's electoin are still unknown, but Mr. Prosser received a big boost after a clerical error revealed thousands of votes had been unreported.

AP Photo/Darren Hauck

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It may be time for Wisconsin Republicans to chalk up another victory in their feud with state Democrats and labor unions.

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The unresolved race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat is being characterized as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial union policy that ends most public employees' right to collective bargaining. That law, approved last month after a bitter fight, is currently being reviewed by the courts – and is likely to work its way up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Tuesday's election for the Supreme Court seat was officially nonpartisan, but special-interest groups on each side spent millions to influence the outcome. Originally thought to be neck and neck, the race took a twist Thursday with the announcement that a corrected clerical error has pushed conservative Justice David Prosser ahead of Assistant State Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,500 votes.

IN PICTURES: Wisconsin protest signs

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced Thursday that “human error” resulted in her not reporting 14,000 votes from the heavily Republican county. The original statewide estimate had Justice Prosser trailing by 200 votes.

Ms. Kloppenburg’s campaign has begun raising funds for a vote recount, though it has not announced that it will seek one. Kloppenburg trails Prosser by a little more than the 0.5 percent margin that would trigger a state-funded recount.

Both campaigns made key hires to their recount teams Thursday. Prosser hired a veteran of President George W. Bush’s 2000 Florida recount team, and Kloppenburg hired a litigator who helped Sen. Al Franken (D) of Minnesota with his contested 2008 race.

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