#WaukeshaWatch: A front row seat to political theater

Last night, fortified by Thin Mints and a Snickers bar, Jeff Christensen assumed his position at the Waukesha County Courthouse as part of our plan to keep tabs on Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. Turns out, the process was slow but smooth, as Waukesha has finally caught up to 1995. While the process itself was mundane, the “internal spat” was anything but, and Christensen had a front row seat to political theater.

As Steve Chamraz from TMJ4 reported, Nickolaus “was supposed to hand off her election duties to her deputy clerk, after mangling the results of two elections,” but she “appeared to be very much in charge of the count last night.” Chamraz and some other members of traditional media were surprised to see Nickolaus at the Courthouse at all. (Guess they don’t read Blogging Blue.)

But Christensen does read Blogging Blue, and he was through security and ready to tweet using the hashtag #WaukeshaWatch by 7:45pm. He kept us entertained by providing pictures of the Courthouse and his delicious theater snacks until things picked up (you can access Jeff’s original tweets here-he’s @demjeff on twitter.)

Conservative blogger @jwigderson showed up and finally delivered my girl scout cookies! #waukeshawatch (8:13pm)

Then it was down to business:

The clerks office isn’t playing too friendly with the media. They are letting them take video, but not answering ?s yet. #waukeshawatch (8:31pm)

No results yet and the Clerk’s office is directing everyone to their website; which has no results. #waukeshawatch (8:44pm)

Kathy Nickolaus appeared before the media & claimed all is “going smoothly”. No results yet. #waukeshawatch (8:57pm)

Results trickle in…

21% of the county is in. Gladys Huber has carried 49 of the 7581 votes for GOV. #waukeshawatch (9:02pm)

Some GOP cross-over in the data as Weix has 5k of the 12K for LG. Mahlon with almost 4K. #waukeshawatch (9:05pm)

Another tweet about snacks:

Things often go slow in Waukesha County. I’m prepared in case I have to be here for awhile. #waukeshawatch (9:09pm)

More on the numbers:

New numbers from Waukesha directly from Kathy. Barrett with over 12K of 19K votes. Will have precinct totals in a minute.#waukeshawatch (9:22pm)

Arthur Kohl-Riggs has 439 of 46,682 votes in the GOP primary.#waukeshawatch (9:23pm)

Nickolaus just updated us that we now have 95 of 185 precincts in. That is 51%. #waukeshawatch (9:25pm)

Kathy tells us that we’ll have City of Brookfield numbers shortly to report. #waukeshawatch (9:40pm)

We now have 157 of 185 precincts in. That’s 85% done.#waukeshawatch (9:48pm)

175 of 185 precincts now in, 95% done. Senate 13 is 100% in.#waukeshawatch (10:08pm)


Just for the record, Nickolaus was asked why she was here & she dodged the question. #waukeshawatch (10:11pm)

Getting there…

We are at 180 of 185 precincts reporting. Nearly done in Waukesha.#waukeshawatch (10:22pm)

Interesting note on LG crossover votes. 33K voters for Dem GOV Primary, 50K voters for Dem LG. Looks like 17K crossed.#waukeshawatch (10:24pm)

We are only waiting on 10 wards from the City of Pewaukee, then we’re done! #waukeshawatch (10:33pm)

City of Pewaukee is in and we are 100% done. #waukeshawatch (10:34pm)

Many appearances by Kathy Nickolaus and often in the move. Hard to get a good photo. #waukeshawatch (10:37pm)

Here’s where the bit of political theater comes in (hope Jeff had some Snickers left!):

Vrakas staffer talking to media. Clarified that Dep Clerk Yeager was in charge tonight & utilized Kathy at her discretion. #waukeshawatch (10:40pm)


Well, this is good to know:

No tapes tonight in Waukesha, everything was done electronic as per GAB. #waukeshawatch (10:40pm)

Welcome to the present, Waukesha County:

It appears that Waukesha County is now following GAB recommendations for reporting election results. #waukeshawatch (10:42pm)

Vote totals from Waukesha: 79K for GOP Gov. 35K total for Dem Gov. 52K total for Dem LG. 2K for Senate 13. #waukeshawatch (10:45pm)

Oh, gosh:

WTMJ4 is reporting that Kathy Nickolaus claimed that she was “very much in charge”. That contradicts Vrakas’ chief of staff.#waukeshawatch (10:52)

And finally:

It looks like the story of the night isn’t the results, its the conflicting report of who was in charge. Good night everyone! #waukeshawatch (10:55pm)

So, to sum up, the process that every other county has been using forever worked, albeit slowly.

What’s interesting, though, is that it was assumed by many that Nickolaus would turn over her election duties to Kelly Yaeger, her deputy clerk, for this election. (See previous post for details.) However, last night Nickolaus appeared to be running the show, as reported by Christensen, The Freeman, TMJ4, etc.

Adding to the confusion was the statement made to Troy Laack of The Freeman by Shawn Lundie, Dan Vrakas’ chief of staff. He “insisted” that Kelly Yaeger, deputy clerk, “was in charge of Tuesday’s primary” and not Nickolaus. You can read that article in its entirety here.

Vrakas, Nickolaus and Lundie appeared to be pleased with the way things turned out last night, and they’re each taking credit for such success. Or as Christensen puts it, “they’re all taking credit for the homework they’re not even doing.”

Perhaps Vrakas, Nickolaus, and Lundie should put together a GOP Unity rally (or breakfast) because despite the fact that the process itself seems solid and should be seamless for the June 5 recall election, this “old fashioned GOP pissing match” between Nickolaus and Vrakas does not do much to inspire voter confidence…


From a recent protest (can't remember which one, they all blend together now)

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8 thoughts on “#WaukeshaWatch: A front row seat to political theater

  1. There were no poll tapes? There should be!!! Even though the data is transferred via modem, there HAS to be poll tapes!!! Maybe you just mean, not hanging from the walls?? Hope so. We won’t see the likely fraud that is being done, as Kathy programs her own machines. Unless there is a recount, we have no idea. There was over 800 exhibits of potential tampering from the SC recount, and nothing happened. The GAB certified the election without even looking at the evidence.

  2. Waukesha is now using the same process that the other counties in WI use-it’s done through the GAB, not Nickolaus.

  3. Somehow, I am not reassured.

    However, I am inordinately entertained by this post, and I thank you for the fun!

  4. Thanks, Zach & Migosh. A sense of humor is a necessity when you live in Waukesha County as a liberal…a very dark, twisted, often easily-misinterpreted sense of humor. 🙂

  5. I was happy to help. And I’m quite happy that the municipal clerks are reporting their information to the county clerk & GAB at the same time. It provides some oversight & lets everyone know that their vote counts.

  6. And there was a much bigger drop-off (55.5%) between people who voted in the guv’s race and those who voted in the Lt. Gov race than there was in the rest of the state (41.3% dropoff). We need to be able to see every “absentee” ballot that comes into Walkershaw on June 5, to make sure Kathy hasn’t done her little pre-marking routine, which has happened before.

    No, I don’t trust any numbers that come out of the 262 unless the chain of command of the ballots is observed from start to finish. We need everyone we can to be observing there.

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