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PORTSIDE  April 2011, Week 2

PORTSIDE April 2011, Week 2

Subject:

GOP Clerk 'Finds' Votes to Reverse Defeat of Conservative Wisconsin Justice

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Date:

Mon, 11 Apr 2011 00:15:15 -0400

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GOP Clerk 'Finds' Votes to Reverse Defeat of 
Conservative Wisconsin Justice
John Nichols
The Nation
April 8, 2011  
http://www.thenation.com/blog/159789/strange-politics-fitzwalkerstan-gop-clerk-finds-votes-reverse-defeat-conservative-wiscon

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.

Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager says she's
the developments require inquiry and explanation.

She's right.

The Kloppenburg campaign has demanded "a full
explanation of how and why these 14,315 votes from an
entire City were missed." As part of the search for that
explanation, the campaign plans to file open records
requests for all relevant documentation related to the
reporting of election results in Waukesha County, as
well as to the discovery and reporting of the errors
announced by the County."

The open records highlight concerns about the
credibility of Nickolaus-whose secretive and suspicious
activities led the Waukesha County Board's executive
committee order an audit of the clerk's use of election
equipment and her controversial approaches to counting
and tabulating votes.

That's appropriate. But these requests do not go far
enough.

Weeks ago, state Rep. Mark Pocan, the former co-chair of
the legislative Joint Finance Committee, suggested that
the lawless actions of Governor Walker and his
legislative consigliere, state Senator Majority Leader
Scott Fitzgerald, had remade Wisconsin as a rogue state
he dubbed "Fitzwalkerstan."

After a snap seventeen-second tally that denied most
Assembly Democrats a chance to vote on Walker's anti-
labor agenda, after the threats to deny Democratic state
senators legislative voting rights, after the attempts
to close the Capitol to the people of Wisconsin, after
the violations of open-meetings laws, after the flagrant
violations of a judges temporary-restraining order, the
"Fitzwalkerstan" label seems increasingly apt. And the
idea of leaving an inquiry into the Waukesha County
scandal to authorities who bow to the governor's is
simply untenable.

The circumstance lends legitimacy to the call by the
advocacy group Citizens Action of Wisconsin for "an
immediate federal investigation and immediate
impoundment of all computer equipment, ballots, and
other relevant evidence needed to verify a fair vote
count in Waukesha County. " Citizen Action says this
investigation should include an accounting of all
communications by "Kathy Nickolaus and anyone in the
Waukesha clerk's office with all outside actors, and all
interested parties to the election dispute."

It also demands a full recount, no matter what the
ultimate margin of victory or defeat. Whether David
Prosser or JoAnne Kloppenburg is elected, the only way
that the high court will retain even a shred of
credibility is if every ballot is recounted, every
tabulation is reviewed and every citizen is certain that
this election was legitimate.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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