MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, concerned about the recent state Supreme Court election, is asking the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to also investigate the November 2006 general election results.
Party Chair Michael Tate, in a letter Thursday to Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB, writes:
"The apparent pattern of problems arising from the Waukesha County Clerk is undermining the public's confidence in the integrity of our voting procedures.
"The public counts on the GAB to review and take appropriate action so that the public can be confident in the outcome of elections."
Tate points to the 2006 election in which Republican and current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen defeated Democrat Kathleen Falk by 8,859 votes.
According to the election results reported by the Wisconsin Elections Board at the time, the final vote total in the attorney general election was 1,065,453 for Van Hollen and 1,056,594 for Falk.
"Observers," Tate said, reviewed the reported November 2006 results on the Waukesha County website and discovered information he believes warrants Kennedy's "immediate attention and review."
"The Waukesha County Clerk website Tuesday said there were 118,342 votes for Van Hollen and 55,608 votes for Falk, a total of 173,950 votes. (There are an additional 97 write-in votes tabulated for a total of 174,047 votes assigned to candidates from Waukesha County.)
"However, at the top of the same page, the Waukesha County Clerk, under the heading BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL, the number of total ballots reported is 156,804. This is an underreporting of 17,243 votes."
The party chair said the discrepancy is "more than enough" to have swung the election for Falk.
Tate goes on to point out that the report posted on the county clerk's website is dated Jan. 31, 2008 -- 14 months after the election took place in November 2006.
"Later on Tuesday, apparently after this discrepancy was brought to the attention of the Waukesha County Clerk, the county website was amended to include an asterisk, followed by the words: 'The Number of Ballots Cast do not reflect all results, only those electronically sent. (Ballots cast will not be equal to the votes cast.),'" he wrote to Kennedy.
However, the newly-added language does nothing to explain the discrepancy in the numbers "nor does it diminish the understandable questions that exist."
"Given the revelations of the past week, I request you investigate the data available on the Waukesha County Clerks computer related to the November 2006 election results in Waukesha County for the attorney general's race and please provide the public with an explanation for the discrepancy of more than 17,000 votes not tabulated in the ballot cast total reported by the Waukesha County Clerkl."
In a news release Thursday, the state Democratic Party says the problems bear "eerie similarities" to the current ones facing Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.
Nickolaus admitted on April 7 that she omitted some 14,000 ballots after the polls had closed in the state's hotly contested Supreme Court race.
The city of Brookfield sent its results to Nickolaus, who reportedly put them in the system but forgot to save the data. She later discovered her mistake and added the missing votes again.
The revised totals have put incumbent Justice David Prosser, a Republican, ahead of Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Democrat.
"This is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found," Nickolaus said last week. "This is human error, which I apologize for."
Nickolaus is reportedly a Republican, has worked for a state GOP caucus that was once controlled by Prosser, and has previously faced criticism for her handling of elections.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.