Bench Memos

Voting Irregularities in Wisconsin

As readers know by now, the momentum in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race turned dramatically in Justice Prosser’s favor when it was discovered that some 14,000 votes had not been reported by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. The new 7,000-vote margin between Prosser and Kloppenburg — which is probably impossible to overcome in a recount — has driven Wisconsin union activists and their left-wing allies to throw a massive fit. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin even wants the Department of Justice to investigate. That’s wingnuttery.

As Professor Rick Esenberg explained:

There were no votes “found” and no change in the official results. It is inaccurate to call what happened a “ballot blunder.” It was not a “counting” error. The votes were not overlooked by the inspectors in the City of Brookfield. They were counted and reported to the county clerk. It was an error in reporting to the media by the county clerk. If she would have reported results by municipality on election night, it would have been immediately evident. In fact, in retrospect, those of us who were following the AP results in real time may have seen it happen when Waukesha’s number of precincts reporting changed without a change in the vote totals.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert and the New York Times’s Nate Silver have both conducted their own analyses of the votes and demonstrated that the revised vote count actually puts Waukesha County in line with expected vote totals, whereas the initial count showed it to be an outlier in light of the heavy turnout. And reported that Kevin Kennedy, the director of the organization responsible for overseeing elections in Wisconsin, believes that “the final canvass numbers in the city of Brookfield match the initial tallies from poll workers on Election Night.”

The actual ballots will be counted soon enough and everyone but the radical fringe will be convinced that Justice Prosser received more votes than his challenger. But so long as those fringe agitators are investigating possible voter fraud, perhaps they could look into a 10,000-vote irregularity in Dane County that caught my attention. According to Daily Caller contributor Matthew Boyle:

On an estimated more than 10,000 ballots in Dane County, Wisconsin, where the state capital Madison is, voters selected only a pick in the Supreme Court race, while leaving even the hotly contested mayoral and county executive choices blank.

As you probably guessed, those 10,000 voters selected Kloppenburg. I’m sure Congresswoman Baldwin’s office is all over it and that we’ll soon learn that she has asked DOJ to broaden its investigation to cover Dane County.


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