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Vote count 'human error' shadows Wisconsin Supreme Court election

A county clerk discovered 14,000 unrecorded votes, which just happened to turn the election for the man she once worked for. "Human error," as she claims, or something more nefarious?

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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.

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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.

US 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 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.”

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.

IN PICTURES: Wisconsin protest signs

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