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.
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The newly reported votes have some Democrats – in Wisconsin and beyond – crying foul. The announcement “raises disturbing questions," Democrat Peter Barca, the Assembly's minority leader, said Friday in a statement. Filmmaker Michael Moore, known for his left-of-center politics, launched a barrage of sarcastic tweets late Thursday and early Friday, alleging that other hard-to-find things (e.g., Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and Osama bin Laden) had been discovered in Ms. Nickolaus’s computer.Skip to next paragraph
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According to Prosser, the votes did not materialize out of thin air, and his team had known about them.
“We knew the figures from other stories that had been printed, but they were not actually included in the totals reported to the Associated Press,” Prosser said in an interview Thursday with Fox News.
It's common to see discrepancies between unofficial Election Night tallies and the election results that are certified weeks later, because election officials get a more accurate count during that time, experts say.
“Most of the time when we see races decided by 10 percentage points, no one pays attention to a stray 7,000 votes,” says Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It’s not unusual to see a change of half a percent statewide to a full percent statewide between the unofficial results and those that are certified two weeks later.”
The votes reported Thursday moved the unofficial results by about 0.5 percentage point. This case is less disconcerting than some other close races in recent history, in which discrepancies were harder to explain, says Professor Franklin.
In the 2002 election for Alabama governor, Democratic incumbent Don Siegelman was initially declared the winner, but he conceded after 6,000 votes reported as his were stricken or reassigned to Republican challenger Bob Riley. Officials said a computer glitch had caused Mr. Siegelman’s tally to be overstated, though they gave no definitive answer as to what the glitch was.
“In Alabama, it was very hard to verify what change had taken place or independently check on it,” says Franklin. “This one seems like there is enough data to crosscheck and feel confidant.”