Suppose the Democratic governor of Illinois had proposed radical changes in how the state operates, and suppose anger over those proposed changes inspired a popular uprising that filled the streets of every city, village and town in the state with protests. Then, suppose there was an election that would decide whether allies of the governor controlled the state’s highest court. Suppose the results of that election showed that an independent candidate who would not be in the governor’s pocket narrowly won that election.
Then, suppose it was announced by a Democratic election official in Chicago that she had found 14,000 votes in a machine-controlled ward that overwhelmingly favored the candidate aligned with the Democratic governor. And suppose the Democratic official who “found” the needed ballots for the candidate favored by the Democratic governor had previously been accused of removing election data from official computers and hiding the information on a personal computer, that the official’s actions had been censured even by fellow Democrats and that she her secretive and erratic activities had been the subject of an official audit demanded by the leadership of the Cook County Board.
Now, suppose that the number of additional votes tabulated for the governor’s candidate was precisely the amount needed to prevent the independent candidate from demanding an official recount.
Would even the most naïve Illinoisan simply accept at face value that the new count was “legitimate” or that the governor’s candidate should suddenly be presumed to have been “elected”? Not likely.
Wisconsinites should respond with equal skepticism to the news that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, a former Republican legislative staffer who worked for Prosser when he served as Assembly Speaker and with Walker when he was a GOP rising star, has found all the votes that justice needs to secure his re-election and that the governor needs to claim a “win” for his agenda.
There is no need for a conspiracy theory. The facts raise the questions that lawyers, campaigners and activists are now asking.
The clerk, who has a history of secretive and erratic handling of election results, says she forgot to count the votes of Brookfield, the county’s second-largest city, in the total for Tuesday’s Supreme Court election.
Nickolaus claims that it was “human error” that caused her to “lose” the Brookfield results on her personal computer where she had secreted away the data. Yet, she apparently knew of the “mistake” for twenty-nine hours before reporting it and then handed the information off to conservative bloggers and talk-radio personalities.
But what is most important to note are the numbers. With Governor Scott Walker’s candidate, Justice David Prosser, essentially tied with his independence-and-integrity challenger, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, it was all but certain that a recount would be required. And the final unofficial count, as tabulated Wednesday afternoon, put Kloppenburg ahead by several hundred votes, giving the challenger an advantage gloing into the the count.
Then, two days after the election, Nickolaus found the 7,582 votes needed to put Prosser outside the zone of a state-funded official recount.