WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A stunning discovery of votes in Wisconsin could give the state’s hotly contested Supreme Court race to the conservative incumbent in an election largely seen as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s explosive union rights law.

Adding another twist, the county clerk who said she incorrectly entered vote totals in the race has faced criticism before for her handling of elections and previously worked for a state GOP caucus when it was controlled by the candidate who stands to benefit from Thursday’s revelation.

The corrected totals gave Justice David Prosser a 7,500-vote lead over little-known liberal assistant state attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg, according to unofficial tallies. Before the announcement, it was assumed the race was headed for a recount. The difference between the two had fluctuated throughout the day Thursday as counties began verifying votes, but at one point was as close as 11.

Opponents of the law that takes away nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights had hoped a Kloppenburg victory would set the stage for the high court to strike it down.

Kloppenburg’s campaign manager, Melissa Mulliken, demanded a full explanation of how the error occurred and said an open records request for all relevant documents would be filed. She also said Friday that the campaign has started raising money for a recount.

Prosser told Fox News on Thursday night that the race should not be considered a referendum on Walker or any legislation that may end up at the court. He said they are waiting out the process.

“I’m not conceding, and I’m not congratulating. And I’m not claiming victory,” he said.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said it was “human error” that resulted in more than 14,000 votes from her predominantly GOP county not being reported to The Associated Press on Tuesday. She said the most significant error occurred when she entered but did not save totals from the city of Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee.

“This is not a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found,” Nickolaus said. “This is human error, which I apologize for.”

Ramona Kitzinger, the vice chair of Waukesha County Democratic party who observed the canvass, said she is satisfied the numbers are now correct.

“We went over everything and made sure all the numbers jibed up and they did,” she said.

Nickolaus worked for 13 years for a Republican caucus that was controlled by Prosser when he was Assembly speaker in 1995 and 1996. She was given immunity from prosecution in a 2002 criminal investigation into illegal activity by members of the caucus where she worked as a data analyst and computer specialist.

The corruption probe took down five legislative leaders, all of whom reached plea deals. Nickolaus resigned from her state job in 2002 just before launching her county clerk campaign.

Nickolaus also has been criticized by the Waukesha County Board for her handling of past elections and lack of oversight in her operations.

An audit of Nickolaus’ handling of the 2010 election found she needed to take steps to improve security and backup procedures, including not sharing passwords. The audit was requested after the county’s director of administration said Nickolaus had been uncooperative with attempts to have county experts review her systems and confirm backups were in place.

The surprise discovery of votes that could give Prosser the win had liberal groups crying foul.

“There is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding the Waukesha County Clerk and there remain unanswered questions,” Scot Ross, director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said in a statement.

Rep. Peter Barca, Democratic Assembly minority leader, said the mistake raises significant suspicion that could warrant an investigation.

“It doesn’t instill confidence in her competence or integrity,” Barca said.

Prosser issued a statement saying he was encouraged by various reports from counties as they began verifying the votes. He did not specifically mention the Waukesha County change.

“Our confidence is high, and we will continue to monitor with optimism, and believe that the positive results will hold. We’ve always maintained faith in the voters and trust the election officials involved in the canvasing will reaffirm the lead we’ve taken.”

The race was so close, despite 1.5 million votes being cast, that the lead flipped back and forth repeatedly on Election Day and in the days after as preliminary totals were checked and updated.

The Government Accountability Board, which is in charge of overseeing Wisconsin’s elections, will review Waukesha County’s numbers to verify the totals, said agency director Kevin Kennedy.

Kennedy said it was unfortunate the clerk didn’t double-check the data before releasing it to the media. Kennedy also said such mistakes are known to happen but that “we just don’t see them of this magnitude.”

Nickolaus said she didn’t notice an absence of votes because her figures showed a 42 percent voter turnout, which exceeded the 30 percent turnout the county typically sees in spring elections.

“That was an amazing amount of votes,” she said. “So I had no reason to believe I was missing anything.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (21)
  1. Tea Says says:



    I’m sorry all you Lefty’s…but this is FUNNY!

    One more nail in your coffin…..

    1. AntiBaggerLifeStyle says:

      Actually TeaBagger, the laugh is on you folks. The whole country is laughing at what you “Baggers” think and do.

      1. Lisa Gonyea says:

        And what country is that? Iran? The Neatherlands? France? Oh..you want us to go the way of Greece 🙂

        1. True..I never asked! says:


      2. Al says:

        All I do partner is vote. I don’t march and protest but the liberal left has gotten it’s way by doing that so do you wonder that it is the left that has created the polarity. I for one never thought of the vote for judge a test till the left wingers suggested it and drove it by avidly supporting the opposition and creating the atmosphere of taking sides.

  2. I'll show you my Bag if you want.... says:

    How can you even begin to say that….I think this vote is a true indication of how MOST people feel…..
    But….I’ll listen……can you tell me where you get your “facts” from? The “whole” country? Or….should we just wait for more elections that will again kick more “lefty’s” out of office….
    I’m guessing the Mid-term’s were not enough proof?

    1. Tea says sorry says:

      OK….I’m sorry..I have read over my comments and they do seem a little “childish”….but can you blame me for my anger? I don’t WANT to “dislike” my fellow Americans….but look at the facts:
      #1- Look at the way the Dem’s acted about the vote….Leaving? Not facing the issue?
      #2- Now a person who has had “issues” in the past is in charge of another election? And Imagine that…it’s wong again?
      Ok..only 2 points….but I really LIKE WI….it’s a great state just like MN….I just want the PEOPLE to be able to vote on what they want with out anyone messing with it.
      Walker was voted into office by the people….his changes were an open part of his election…the Supreme Court race vote is another voice of the people…and after the way the Dem’s treated the initial change..if you don’t think this is yet another “ploy” your kidding yourself…
      So…say what you want…but the people and the votes they cast will speak the way they feel….

  3. I'll show you my Bag if you want....Lisa Gonyea says:


  4. Zeke says:

    And 58% of Wisconsin said it did not matter which candidate won by not voting. “You all are horse rears” is the mandate the State of Wisconsin said by that election. Take that you tea potters and left wingers.

  5. 2 T-Bags and a mic says:

    @Zeke Somewhat of a good point..until you look at the average voter turn out…which from what I can remember is 33% in WI?
    42% is quite good when you look at it…..so please…let’s look at some relevant numbers….

  6. Kally says:

    This is a win for “workers rights” in American! That is… workers who are not slurpping at the government trough, putting nothing into the economy, only taking and expecting real workers to accept any tax increase to support them and their lavish pensions. This is a victory for my “workers rights” to not pay more taxes to support union thugs and greedy teachers and other government workers.

    1. Irv says:

      Kally, How much do you do for your community? I am one of those greedy teachers your talking about. Every day, I educate your children and get them ready to face the real world. Oh, and I do if for less than you pay your baby sitter or day care provider. Don’t talk to me about how greedy I am. I pay $10k per year just for health insurance out of my own pocket. Somehow thats greedy. You want less taxes, fine move to Lousiana where the average student drops out in the eighth grade, where 75% of the roads are gravel and homeless people just sleep in the ditch. No, I care more about people than to lable them when I know we can do better. What do you do for your community?

  7. Tea Likes teachers! says:

    @Kally…..Even though I agree with you….I have to say..MOST teachers are NOT “greedy” and I would say the UNIONS are the ones driving for the pay issues…..

    1. Randy says:

      In Wisconsin less than 15% of the jobs are union. Can that 15% be totally responsible for all that is wrong?

  8. Shannon says:

    Kally – What planet are you from? Those “greedy teachers” pay part of their own salaries through their real estate taxes, and I don’t know one of them who lives a lavish lifestyle or has a lavish pension. You think of yourself as a “real worker” – what a joke. You couldn’t do their job. And I’d love to see you make your comments to a police officer’s face. It’s easy to spew your hatred under an anonymous name on a message board.

    And thank you to Tea Likes Teachers. I may not agree with him/her on everything, but at least he/she respects the teaching profession.

  9. George Washnigton says:

    Maybe on the recount, a disgraced liberal county auditor will find 7000 votes that favors the other candidate. Can you hear the Regressives screaming “foul”.??

    1. Shannon says:

      Then Fox News would just find another box of ballots under a palm tree somewhere.

  10. Tea Says one more says:

    @ Shannon & Irv…..
    I 100% respect the job teachers do…and overall….you’re right…the average “pay” (as a yearly compensation) is somewhat low…..but let’s look at the total benefits package.
    I agree, of ALL of the public workers….Teachers, fire fighters, and police SHOULD get the BEST pay scales, but overall….considering how many hours worked in a year….and the benefits package you receive AFTER you retire, is WELL above the rest of the world….
    We do have a good education system here…and a lot of great teachers….but I agree there should be some compensation restructure and revisions in the WHOLE govt sector…..not JUST teachers….

    1. Shannon says:

      I respect that opinion, but I feel that teachers salaries are much much lower than private sector – especially when you take into account that these teachers must have a college degree, and many of them have or are working toward a Master’s degree which they pay for with their own money. They could make a lot more money in the private sector. When I see these hard-working people vilified in the press now it makes me sick. These are people that we need in our communities.

  11. Kay says:

    I am curious to know how much the Koch boys paid her to unexpectedly find her human error two days after the election??? Unbelievable. Tomorrow, we will wake up and Walker will be President. The Republlicans have left our wonderful state of WI in an uproar and laughing stock of America. Joke. It will all come out in the wash. What goes around comes around……

  12. Shannon says:

    She knew about those votes for 29 hours before she told anybody. Conservative websites reported about it first. And Prosser needed exactly 7,000 more votes to push the difference in totals up to the level where the state would not pay for a recount and Joanne Kloppenberg would have to pay for a recount herself. Check out the video of her explaining this. She’s very clearly lying. 2000, 2004 and now this election. This is becoming a habit.

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