This post is in response to an article for Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which interviewed Justice Prosser and his campaign staff concerning the anticipated recount in the Supreme Court race. Of course this afternoon, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg requested a statewide recount. Since Justice Prosser’s margin of victory as less that 0.5%, AAG Kloppenburg is entitled to a recount paid for by the state.
I would imagine most of you reading anything on Blogging Blue is familiar with the history of the Prosser/Kloppenburg election results. After a too close to call election on Tuesday night April 5th, the initial results on Wednesday showed AAG Kloppenburg ahead by 204 votes. Prematurely AAG Kloppenburg declared victory.
At that point the conservative right was screaming voter fraud and demanding a recount and certainly every one of us knew that a recount was inevitable at that point. And then Thursday, the Fox River parted and Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus appeared from on high with 14,315 stone table votes that propelled Justice Prosser into the lead by in excess of 7,000 votes. Of course the stone tablet reference is a bit of sarcasm, but Clerk Nickolaus was using an out of date computer system in her office which was not part of the county’s computer network and could only be accessed by herself and her immediate staff.
And of course the left immediately started screaming voter fraud and demanding a recount. Now a number of sources support the final numbers reported by Waukesha county and some of the shouting quieted down but by now the damage was done and the election results were doubted on both sides of the aisle.
The fact that Clerk Nickolaus has worked for Justice Prosser while he was in the state legislature and other voting report irregularities in her background, didn’t do much to quiet the dissent.
And of course the statewide election canvass, although finding some issues and adjusting some vote counts (not unusual) confirmed the win by Justice Prosser. Which brings us to the whining from the Prosser campaign:
From Justice Prosser himself:
“Admittedly the election was uncomfortably close.” “But now all 72 counties have completed their canvasses, the result of the election is not in doubt”.
While I won’t disagree that Justice Prosser has won the election, he is a jurist. He certainly has to appreciate the importance of respect and honor in the law. The results although apparently correct have been tainted in a number of ways and the best and fastest way to remove the odor is a full statewide recount. If his victory is reconfirmed I hope he will be a more gracious winner than he’s proved to be so far.
Jim Troupis, an attorney for the Prosser campaign and legal representative for a number of tea party and conservative groups currently suing the state over campaign funding and registration rules, said:
“We will take every and any step to prevent this frivolous matter going forward.”
Democracy is frivolous? Frivolous? Justice Prosser admits the election is very close, uncomfortably so. The State of Wisconsin has anticipated potential issues with close elections and provides free to the candidate recounts in situations exactly like this. So Attorney Troupis wants to interfere with the election process? Again it would be better to not be an obstructionist and allow the recount and finalize the result as quickly as possible. I can’t imagine that the recount will take longer than a long drawn out court battle or cost may cost considerably less.
Attorney Troupis also said that since 1980 there have been 24 statewide recounts nationally and that the most a result had changed has been 1,000 votes. I haven’t checked into this but no one else has raised it as an issue so I will accept it as fact. So with a 7,316 vote lead what is he afraid of? That Justice Prosser will end up winning by 5,316 votes? Why spend the time and money in court if a recount provides closure on the issue?
Another Prosser campaign advisor, Brian Schimming, said that AAG Kloppenburg should not call for a recount because it would be very expensive. Yes, I am sure that it will be but democracy is messy and it’s expensive. But it seems to me that it will be money well spent to reaffirm that voting in Wisconsin is accurate and elections here work. Mr. Schimming estimated that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and if including costs to the campaigns for lawyers and recount observers that may be correct. But GAB spokesperson Reid Magney says that there are too many variables to determine total costs for a recount.
So, step aside Justice Prosser, let the recount begin. If as expected, you retain your seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, you can say democracy has spoken and Wisconsin’s election system works! Now what could possibly be wrong with that?
Sidebar: read the last few paragraphs of the article which briefly discuss judicial ethics and recusal. I don’t have the energy to discuss it here. But Justice Prosser will not step aside when the suit brought by his Attorney Troupis is brought before the court.