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Democrats right to be angry at Nickolaus but there’s no vote fraud here


Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Apr 14, 2011; Section: Opinion; Page: 8A

Democrats right to be angry at Nickolaus
But there’s no vote fraud here

I meant it as a joke. The day after the Supreme Court election I sent an e-mail to Jeff Christensen of the Democratic Party asking if he was going to request the Waukesha County Sheriff to stand guard over Kathy Nickolaus.

Christensen knew what I meant. After all, it’s not like Nickolaus hasn’t made errors before.

Perhaps if someone other than staff had been in the clerk’s room on election night, they could have heard the election results rolling in from municipality after municipality. They might have even kept notes. (You know, pencil and paper, that sort of thing.) When the numbers were sent out to the press as final, someone might have said, “Gee, that looks about 11,000 short. Are you sure Kathy?”

After all, we know the city of Brookfield clerk got it right. Her numbers were posted on the city’s website on election night, and another Internet publication re-posted them. Those numbers matched up with what Nickolaus reported two days later.

Two days after the Supreme Court election, John Nichols of the Capital Times triumphantly wrote, “Prosser, a brass-knuckles pol, is unlikely to accept the gratitude and exit gracefully. He can be counted on to demand a recount.” JoAnne Kloppenburg still led Justice David Prosser by 204 votes and had declared victory the day before.

In your ink-stained hands that morning my newspaper column lamented the lower turnout in Waukesha County. I even quoted Walt Kelly’s Pogo, and I don’t even like that cartoon.

Then the news started coming in from the canvassing by the counties that vote totals were being adjusted. County after county tweaked the results and Prosser inched closer to victory.

Do you know which county finally put Prosser ahead? It was Winnebago County, and Prosser had a 40-vote lead.

That was quickly forgotten when Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus dropped the election bomb on Kloppenburg supporters’ hopes and dreams. Nickolaus didn’t include the city of Brookfield’s results in the totals sent to the Associated Press.

It was just one more election night screw up by Nickolaus, and this time “the whole world is watching.” I suppose it was inevitable.

That little screw up has launched a possible statewide recount. Where should the taxpayers send Nickolaus the bill?

Her incompetence has also launched a thousand paranoid left-wing fantasies about elections getting stolen. Before too long, they’ll pin the assassination of President John Kennedy on her.

Unfortunately, in their paranoia they’re casting doubt on the legitimacy of Prosser’s re-election. That’s not what democracy should look like.

I understand the anger of the Democrats. I’ll never forget 2006, when Chris Lufter ran against Bill Kramer in the Republican primary for state Assembly. We were so excited when it looked like Lufter won, and we were crushed when Nickolaus told us that there was error in the software that wasn’t properly tested ahead of time.

I imagine that the Democrats feel the same way today. I also understand why they are demanding her resignation. Perhaps after the Government Accountability Board (GAB) issues its report, Nickolaus might reconsider her decision not to resign.

But there is no conspiracy here. Even the Government Accountability Board’s Kevin Kennedy said the numbers do not indicate fraud.

The vote tallies match those that Brookfield reported on election night. The voter turnout after the correction was far closer to what was expected by the experts.

No boxes of ballots were found. No extra votes were uncovered. Even the idea that there were “unreported” votes is incorrect, because all of the votes were reported.

Calls for a federal investigation are not only unwarranted, they’re destructive, and made with the intent of casting aspersions on the re-election of Prosser.

It wasn’t fraud; it was Nickolaus. Those saying otherwise are either shameless opportunists or willfully ignorant.

If the current margin holds after the canvassing is complete, it will be time for Kloppenburg to concede. It will be hard for Kloppenburg’s supporters to swallow, but no candidate can be expected to make up 7,000 votes in a statewide recount. There will be no need for one.

It’s too bad we did not learn it on election night like we should have.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)


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