Recount coming in Wis. SC election

John O'Brien Apr. 22, 2011, 1:14pm


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election won by incumbent David Prosser will be recounted.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board finished its official count a week ago. Prosser, who looked like he was going to lose to challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general, won by more than 7,000 votes. The election was held on April 5.

Wednesday, Kloppenburg asked the GAB for a recount.

"There are legitimate and widespread questions about the conduct of this election - most visibly in Waukesha County, but also in counties around the state," she wrote. "With a margin this small - less than one half of one percent - the importance of every vote is magnified."

Kloppenburg said anomalies around the state include an undervote in Milwaukee and Racine, long lines and photocopied ballots in several counties and significant changes in the vote totals in Winnebago County.

Most newsworthy, however, has been the situation in Waukesha County.

As of 4 p.m. April 6, a final, unofficial vote count had showed Kloppenburg with 204 more votes than Prosser. That was before Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus admitted to omitting some 14,000 ballots.

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, giving Prosser a 7,500-vote lead over Kloppenburg.

Though the race is nonpartisan, Prosser is part of the conservative majority on the Court. A Kloppenburg win most likely would have tilted the Court to the left. Her taking the seat also might have impacted the ongoing legal challenge to Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill.

The bill has been a source of controversy for months now, eliminating nearly all collective bargaining rights for those public employee union members. The Republican governor had proposed the bill in response to state budget deficits.

However, the law cannot go into effect because of a temporary restraining order put in place last month by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi.

Sumi, in her original ruling March 18, will not allow Secretary of State Doug La Follette to publish the law. She says a legislative committee violated the state's Open Meetings Law when it approved a new version of the governor's budget bill on March 9.

The state Supreme Court will most likely end up deciding the issue.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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