(Update 2: Regarding my statement below about earlier Brookfield results: apparently, the claim is that in fact there were no votes, and that the 14,000 votes represent the totality of Brookfield votes. If true, that defeats my statement about improbably voter turnout…but still leaves open the question of why no one noticed this sooner. Except that, you know, they did: it’s just that Nickolaus didn’t bother to let the mainstream press know until 29 hours later: some conservative bloggers got the scoop. So replace one suspicion with another…)
As many of you know, the Wisconsin state supreme court justice election drew lots of interest, because whichever candidate wins will have great influence over the legal challenges to Gov. Walker’s actions. As of yesterday, the more liberal candidate, JoAnne Kloppenburg, had an incredibly narrow 204-vote lead (out of about 1.5 million votes cast) – quite an accomplishment, considering the man she challenged, conservative David Prosser, beat her in the primary 55% to 25%. But that was pre-Walker.
Now today comes the announcement that the county clerk in Waukesha County (one of the most Republican counties in the state if not in the nation) has found 14,000 missing votes in the county’s largest city, Brookfield…and as a result, Prosser ends up at about a 7,500-vote margin overall.
This is very, very suspicious, for several reasons. First, the clerk’s record-keeping and computer maintenance practices were called into question last summer – and when she was challenged, she stonewalled. (She was also among Waukesha County Republicans accused (but not charged: she was granted immunity in exchange for testimony) with improper use of state funds for campaign purposes.)
More specifically: The population of Brookfield (where the “missing” votes were found) is about 39,000. Supposedly, 14,000 votes were found. About 27% of Brookfield’s population is under 18. So that means there are about 28,500 potential voters. Are we to believe that fully fifty percent of eligible voters had gone missing? All by itself, that would be a high turnout in this election. The numbers from AP’s tallies last night indicate that about 110,000 votes were cast in Waukesha County. The population of Waukesha County is about 360,000, and about 26.3% of that population is under 18, leaving roughly 265,000 potential voters. So the turnout, as of last night, was about 41%.
So we have two alternatives. If the overall voter turnout in Brookfield is typical of the rest of Waukesha County, then prior to the addition of these 14,000 votes, there would have had to have been an extraordinarily low voter turnout indicated for Brookfield. Nobody noticed last night – in a highly publicized, closely contested election – that almost no one had voted in Brookfield? Alternately, voter turnout as reported before these missing votes turned up was in a normal range for Waukesha County in this election…in which case the newly discovered ballots would push Brookfield’s voter turnout to nearly 80% – an enormous statistical anomaly.
Conclusion: This is extremely fishy.
(Assist to my brother-in-law, who pointed out the issue with the population of Brookfield versus the number of allegedly found ballots.)
UPDATE: The clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, is quoted in this Talking Points Memo article, referring to spreadsheets submitted from polling places by election officials, “I saved them, but when I imported them into the Access database, I thought that they were saved at that time, and didn’t have any real reason to believe they weren’t.” This is clearly false: Access saves entries automatically; there is no extra step necessary to save them.