Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Recount not about counting the votes


By the way, you’ll want to catch the first hour of Charlie Sykes’ podcast from Thursday’s show discussing this issue, including a reading of my column at the 48:20 mark.

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:May 12, 2011; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A


Recount not about counting the votes

Objections set stage for court fight

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

The campaign of JoAnne Kloppenburg is definitely breaking new ground in the recount of the state Supreme Court election.

A friend of mine who specializes in understanding how elections work asked me on Tuesday, “Would you bet the over-under on the number of objections in Waukesha by Kloppenburg? Where would you put the number for the remaining municipalities?”

Gambling on an election is just wrong and probably illegal. It’s also next to impossible to find a bookie that will accept your wager, especially on a recount.

But if you had told me the over-under on the number of objections filed by the Kloppenburg campaign would be over 400, I might have been tempted to bet the house on “under.”

I would have lost my shirt.

The strategy in most recount efforts is to figure out where your votes might have been undercounted and where you can knock off a few votes from your opponent. In Kloppenburg’s case, her campaign is just intent on wiping out as many ballots as they can while extending this out as far as possible.

Kloppenburg’s campaign has to overcome the largest-ever vote difference prior to a recount in order to take this election. After the official canvass, Prosser led by over 7,300 votes. Prior to this election, the largest margin overcome was around 500 votes.

The odds of Kloppenburg managing to pull this off are extremely slim. She knows it, too. Her campaign knows it. Every Democrat in the state knows it. But the recount continues.

Every county in Wisconsin is now done except for Waukesha County. Waukesha County asked for and received an extension.

In the entire rest of the state and in the Waukesha County reporting units recounted, Kloppenburg picked up 262 votes. Still, the recount continues.

You may remember the whole controversy started when the city of Brookfield’s tally was not included by County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus in her report on election night. The numbers Nickolaus reported later during the official canvass matched what the city of Brookfield reported on election night. When the hand recount was completed, Justice David Prosser gained three votes and Kloppenburg gained one.

Still, the recount continues.

It doesn’t have to, of course. Kloppenburg could announce she is satisfied with the results at any time. Since the only votes left to be counted are those most likely to vote for Prosser, and the most controversial votes in the city of Brookfield have been recounted, surely Kloppenburg now believes she lost the election.

If Kloppenburg believes she lost the election, then there is no reason for the recount to continue. If Kloppenburg sincerely believes she didn’t lose the election, then she certainly does not have the necessary grounding in reality to be a state Supreme Court Justice.

Still, the recount continues.

So far, Kloppenburg’s recount request has managed to disenfranchise 18 cloistered nuns in Sauk County who voted absentee. Too bad for Kloppenburg there aren’t 7,000 more nuns out there like that.

The only way Kloppenburg can win now is if her lawyers are successful in court after the recount in getting the city of Brookfield’s votes thrown out. That’s right. She would have to disenfranchise an entire city.

That is where this election is heading – to court. Kloppenburg is already raising the money for the fight. The record number of objections being raised by her attorneys only in Waukesha County is merely setting the stage.

Even then, Kloppenburg knows she cannot win. No sane judge is going to throw out the votes of an entire city.

Still, the recount continues.

Why? Because the Democrats are playing for time. They hope to keep the momentum going into the recall elections while preventing Prosser from being able to hear the challenge to Governor Scott Walker’s changes to collective bargaining privileges when the issue comes before the state Supreme Court.

This isn’t about counting votes. This is a raw exercise in power by the Democrats, and Waukesha County is paying for it. This isn’t what democracy looks like, as the Democrats keep chanting. This is what a banana republic looks like.

There was never a real cause for a recount except to preserve Democratic power, but the recount continues still.



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