Wisconsin Supreme Court Election

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Context:
In early February, newly-elected Governor Scott Walker put forward a bill intended to address Wisconsin's looming budgetary issues. It included salary and benefit cuts for public-sector employees, as well as provisions that eliminated the right to collective bargaining for some, and made it significantly harder for others (by declaring the state would no longer withhold union dues, mandating annual re-certification of union representation, declaring that unions could not negotiate for anything other than salary, and capping salary increases at cost-of-living unless expressly approved via referendum). Things have gotten acrimonious.

This election was not originally expected to even be close.

Results of Feb. 15 primary:
Prosser: 55%
Kloppenburg: 25%

Kloppenburg was ahead by 204 votes at the end of election night, with all precincts reporting. The change was likely due in no small part to the perception that Prosser would act as a rubber-stamp for the Walker administration. This perception was reinforced by a Prosser campaign press release that stated their goal was to protect "the conservative judicial majority and act as a common sense complement to both the new (Walker) administration and (Republican-controlled) Legislature"

A recount is all but inevitable, especially since official canvass numbers today have had shifting vote totals (the lead has swapped places more than once today alone).

If the election-night results hold, this would also be the first time in 41 years that Wisconsin has failed to re-elect an elected incumbent Justice. (Michael Gableman defeated then-Justi ce Louis Butler in 2008, but Butler had been appointed, not elected).

There was a previous thread about the actions by Governor Walker and our state GOP here. That one got sent to fat camp. Let's keep this one focused on Wisconsin Supreme Court election - I'll create others for specific topics like the lawsuit over the status of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, or the eventual efforts to recall Governor Walker when there's something new to discuss. There's already a thread about the State Senate recall efforts here.

Also: I'd like to plead for us all to make room for dissenting opinions and reasonable debate.

Prosser is going to win. They forgot to count the city of Brookfield.

And, after I'd typed that up and gone to the dog park, there's been a rather substantial change.

WisPolitics blog[/url]]Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus apologized this evening for human error that she blamed for failing to include the city of Brookfield's vote totals in the tally she reported to the media Election Night.

The mistake and two other changes in the county helped net Justice David Prosser 7,583 votes over JoAnne Kloppenburg and swung the race dramatically in his favor.

Nickolaus said she failed to properly save a spreadsheet after inputting the Brookfield numbers Election Night, leading to the error. Once she ran the report to show the aggregate numbers for the county, she assumed incorrectly the Brookfield numbers were included.

She said the mistake was discovered yesterday during the canvass.

She stressed it was not a case of votes being found.

It's possible that this was an honest mistake, and it's worth noting that the Democratic member of the county board of canvass has come forward in support Kathy Nickolaus's story.

However, it doesn't help matters that Kathy Nickolaus has come under fire for some unusual security choices regarding election data before (like storing it all on her personal machine, off the government network). At the time, she defended her choice, noting that she worked as a programmer for 15 years.

Hmmm. Well, we'll see. Seems like a recount is inevitable, now.

Nate Silver has done some reporting showing that when you factor in the city of Brookfield results the county of Waukesha is in line for the 2010 and 2008 elections. Prosser is going to end up winning and there will be a recount but the Dems won't be able to find 7,500 votes. I actually won't be surprised if there isn't a recount.

On MeFi, they're saying that the prior election for Prosser had him, get this, win with 99.5% of the vote. I gather that Wisconsin simply does not unseat incumbent judges, ever. Further, he outspent his opponent by 2:1, and still just, just barely squeaked it out.

I'd say those recall votes are probably going to succeed.

Ulairi wrote:
Nate Silver has done some reporting showing that when you factor in the city of Brookfield results the county of Waukesha is in line for the 2010 and 2008 elections. Prosser is going to end up winning and there will be a recount but the Dems won't be able to find 7,500 votes. I actually won't be surprised if there isn't a recount.

Totally possible. Either way, the fact that Kathy Nickolaus apparently persisted with unusual security procedures after defying criticism by claiming expertise as a programmer, then forgot to actually save the file on election night, and ended up finding an insurmountable lead for her former boss (she worked for the Assembly Republican Caucus back when Prosser was Speaker), means there's reasonable room to question the numbers.

I expect a lot of well-deserved scrutiny, and hope that there are good audit trails available to show that everything was above-board.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
Nate Silver has done some reporting showing that when you factor in the city of Brookfield results the county of Waukesha is in line for the 2010 and 2008 elections. Prosser is going to end up winning and there will be a recount but the Dems won't be able to find 7,500 votes. I actually won't be surprised if there isn't a recount.

Totally possible. Either way, the fact that Kathy Nickolaus apparently persisted with unusual security procedures after defying criticism by claiming expertise as a programmer, then forgot to actually save the file on election night, and ended up finding an insurmountable lead for her former boss (she worked for the Assembly Republican Caucus back when Prosser was Speaker), means there's reasonable room to question the numbers.

I expect a lot of well-deserved scrutiny, and hope that there are good audit trails available to show that everything was above-board.

They'll check it. But, it would be hard to just come up with the exact % of votes that the city of Brookfield makes up in the county. They weren't missing votes. They just weren't put into the totals. So, it's not like in MN where ballots were found in shoe boxes.

Ulairi wrote:
She was up by more than 10 points a few weeks ago before that whore of a women decided to take advantage of a man who was molested. She is mud.

I'd be interested in seeing that poll, since the ones I'd seen never showed her with a significant lead.

Also: can we please try to keep it civil?

Not being exposed to Wisconsin politics, I have no idea what to even search for on that last bit (re: whore molesting people or whatever) -- do you have a link handy?

Malor wrote:
Not being exposed to Wisconsin politics, I have no idea what to even search for on that last bit (re: whore molesting people or whatever) -- do you have a link handy?

He's referring to this attack ad which was run by a third-party group, not the Kloppenburg campaign.

You can make that point without raising the general invective level, Ulairi. Deep breath.

Malor wrote:
Not being exposed to Wisconsin politics, I have no idea what to even search for on that last bit (re: whore molesting people or whatever) -- do you have a link handy?

Citizens for a Strong America a union front group for democratic politics were running an advertisement that David Prosser refused to go after an Catholic priest who molested two brothers.


Response to Greater Wisconsin Committee Ad Attacking Justice David Prosser:
“Today outside interests stooped to a new low in an effort to capture a seat on the Supreme Court. They are running an ad featuring a 32-year-old case that then-Outagamie County District Attorney David Prosser reviewed. The ad is distasteful, factually flawed and clearly an act of a group desperate to change the composition of the court.”
“Justice Prosser has earned the trust of over 70 members of the law enforcement community and 100 judges, whom believe he should continue his impressive work on the court. They know he has been a hard working law and order judge.”
Brad Schimel, District Attorney
Waukesha County
Facts:
Fact: Thirty-three years ago an Outagamie mother came to then DA-Prosser and the sheriff with a complaint alleging her two young children were sexually abused by a priest (Fr. John Patrick Feeney)—namely being inappropriately touched by a priest—while at the home of the victims. Previously, the mother had approached the area-Diocese, which failed to act.
Fact: The sheriff’s department did conduct an investigation including several interviews, the matter was also brought to a second district attorney in 1979.
Fact: After an investigation Prosser made the decision not to prosecute. Prosser while sympathetic to the victims, believed the evidence wasn’t strong enough to convict the accused as it would lead to competing individual testimony between an adult priest and two boys, and that a jury trial would be emotionally challenging for the young victims. Lack of a corroborating eye witness, and what was then believed to be a one-time incident were key contributors to such a decision.
Fact: In 2002—twenty four years later—when both of the victims were now adults, then-District Attorney of Outagamie County, Vince Biskupic, reopened the case. He went to trial in 2004 with key pieces of evidence that had not been revealed to the sheriff’s investigators and/or Prosser during the initial investigation, including:
One of the two boys had been inappropriately touched by the accused priest during a confession—again, this evidence was not previously shared by the victim in 1978/79.
A string of past-victims from the 1960s and early 1970s came forth to testify. These new victims had not come forward to law enforcement in 1978/79.
The two brothers, now adults in 2002, had received counseling and where both nearly 40 and better-prepared to testify.
The new prosecutor was able to obtain access to church records newly developed in 80’s demonstrating a string of abuse and out-state counseling efforts to address sexually deviant thoughts of the accused priest.
Fact: Knowledge of 30 years of abuse by the priest was unknown until 2002. While the priest was eventually charged, his reprehensible acts spanning thirty years were never reported to law enforcement prior to the 1978 allegation.
Fact: Law enforcement, and the public in general, had become much more-aware about issues of clergy abuse. Greater resources were also available for preparing victims for trial.
Fact: Prior to the mid-80’s, District Attorneys lacked adequate victim advocacy tools, critical for the prosecution of child sexual offenders. For example, in 1985 chapter 908.08 of the state statutes was adopted allowing a child’s videotaped testimony to be used at a trial, often-eliminating the oft-emotionally challenging need to put a child on the witness stand. Notably, then Rep. Prosser voted in favor of chapter 908.08, and was a sponsor of the legislation.

False Statements Contained in the Greater Wisconsin Committee Ad:
Allegation: The ad states, “Prosser doesn’t ask the police to investigate.’
Truth: Both Prosser and law enforcement authorities investigated the complaint.

Allegation: Prosser met with the Bishop, “To avoid scandal, they [the bishop and Prosser] have him sent to another community.”
Truth: Prosser demanded the priest no longer be allowed to serve the parish, and that he get treatment. He had no knowledge that the priest was assigned to another parish.

Allegation: “A priest abuses children for 30 years across Wisconsin.”
Truth: Prosser and law enforcement did not learn of the 30 years of abuse by the priest until 2002.

One of the boys (now a grown man) wrote a letter and appeared in an advertising refuting the commercial.

EDIT: Taking a deep breath and editing my posts

Dimmerswitch wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
She was up by more than 10 points a few weeks ago before that whore of a women decided to take advantage of a man who was molested. She is mud.

I'd be interested in seeing that poll, since the ones I'd seen never showed her with a significant lead.

Also: can we please try to keep it civil?

Mordecai Lee a professor at UWM was the one who mentioned it on NPR. I'm using my google prowress to find a link.

I guess that she doesn't want to go after an ad that political allies are using to support her. We really need to do campaign finance reform to try to cut some of the bile that gets tossed around by both sides during elections. (bile from the third party supporters)

EDIT: Cleaning up my posts because decades of evil perpetrated by the Catholic church is one of those really sore spots for me and sometimes I lose my cool.

Ulairi wrote:
When you try to use the rape of children for your political advantage and after being asked by the two children who were victims of the crime to stop, you're a political dirt bag. I'm sorry but that's evil. If you can come up with a more civil way to say it I'll be glad to use that language but using the rape of children for political advantage after being asked to stop and lying about what happened is evil.

One of the victims did release a statement condemning the ad, however it wasn't run by the Kloppenburg campaign at all.

Local Channel 3 News[/url]]It is true that one of the two victims in the case, Troy Merryfield, did release a statement condemning the ad. Merryfield had previously been quite critical of Prosser, saying he'd "dropped the ball" on the case. Now his statement says that if he lived in Wisconsin, he would vote for Prosser.

Even if the advertisement in question was run by the Kloppenburg campaign, do you really think that calling a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court a whore is an appropriate response, or one that's likely to foster reasoned discussion of the issues?

Malor wrote:
On MeFi, they're saying that the prior election for Prosser had him, get this, win with 99.5% of the vote. I gather that Wisconsin simply does not unseat incumbent judges, ever. Further, he outspent his opponent by 2:1, and still just, just barely squeaked it out.

I'd say those recall votes are probably going to succeed.

She was up by more than 10 points a few weeks ago (based on an NPR story fron WUWM I heard this morning).

Dimmerswitch wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
When you try to use the rape of children for your political advantage and after being asked by the two children who were victims of the crime to stop, you're a political dirt bag. I'm sorry but that's evil. If you can come up with a more civil way to say it I'll be glad to use that language but using the rape of children for political advantage after being asked to stop and lying about what happened is evil.

One of the victims did release a statement condemning the ad, however it wasn't run by the Kloppenburg campaign at all.

Local Channel 3 News[/url]]It is true that one of the two victims in the case, Troy Merryfield, did release a statement condemning the ad. Merryfield had previously been quite critical of Prosser, saying he'd "dropped the ball" on the case. Now his statement says that if he lived in Wisconsin, he would vote for Prosser.

Even if the advertisement in question was run by the Kloppenburg campaign, do you really think that calling a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court a whore is an appropriate response, or one that's likely to foster reasoned discussion of the issues?

We're getting side tracked so I want to reply just to put a end to this and keep this thread back on topic. I apologize for flying off the handle and mucking up the thread. (why I did it isn't really a good excuses so editing that out) I'll try to do better in the future.

Wow, that ad is slimy as hell. Thirty years ago, nobody really believed the Catholic church had an abuse problem. Sinead O'Connor tore up that picture of the pope much later than that, and it destroyed her career. Between that fundamental social expectation, and the fact that abuse cases are really hard to prove even when you're NOT accusing a worldwide religion, expecting Prosser to have prosecuted that one is flatly silly.

Yet, somehow, ads like that seem to work, for the most part. The government we deserve....

An interesting blog post I saw a couple of hours ago: if for some reason the lower courts find for Kloppenburg, Prosser could potentially be one of the judges on the case, if he doesn't recuse himself.


They'll check it. But, it would be hard to just come up with the exact % of votes that the city of Brookfield makes up in the county. They weren't missing votes. They just weren't put into the totals. So, it's not like in MN where ballots were found in shoe boxes.

I think the worry is precisely that the votes were found in a *spreadsheet*, rather than in physical form. But I'm sure they'll be checked. Brookfield uses optical scanners for most voters, and DRE touchscreens for accessibility votes, all votes tallied at the polling place. So obviously, the fear is that the person in charge cooked the numbers. (I said, "the fear is", I'm not asserting that she did this.)

Oh goodness, didn't see that the Wisconsin stuff was spread across several threads now. Tracking.

Yonder wrote:
Oh goodness, didn't see that the Wisconsin stuff was spread across several threads now. Tracking.

Wisconsin's the new China.

Yonder wrote:
Oh goodness, didn't see that the Wisconsin stuff was spread across several threads now. Tracking.

Certis sent it to fat camp. Trying to see if we can keep things lean if each of the major issues in play gets a thread of its own.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
Certis sent it to fat camp. Trying to see if we can keep things lean if each of the major issues in play gets a thread of its own.

Maybe that's part of a greater conspiracy??

[In my best Glen Beck voice] Certis co-founded this site with Elysium. Doesn't Elysium live in Minnesota? Minnesota is next to Wisconsin. If Wisconsin collapses those crazy vikings will move in and take it! Ergo, Certis and Elysium become co-owners in what was once known as Wisconsin. They then immediately begin a movement to rename Wisconsin to "Awesomeland".

It's as clear as day!

IMAGE(http://images1.memegenerator.net/ImageMacro/7123232/Awesomeland-is-next-to-Minnesota-Who-put-it-there.jpg?imageSize=Medium&generatorName=Bill-O-Reilly)

Current status:

Nate Silver (of fivethirtyeight.com fame) feels that fraud is unlikely.

Some folks have noticed that Mr. Silver's numbers don't take into account that not every person living in Brookfield is voting age, something which raises the voter turnout in Brookfield to a whopping 50.5% (turnout statewide averaged 33%).

Also of note: the numbers Kathy Nickolaus unveiled on Thursday jibe with what Brookfield reported to the local paper after midnight on election night.

It looks most likely that this was gross incompetence rather than a cunning conspiracy. Given Kathy Nickolaus' history with Prosser, I think it's still sensible to investigate the Waukesha vote for irregularities, but it doesn't seem likely that there's a smoking gun here.

I think it's a little hilarious (in an either-hilarious-or-depressing-so-better-trick-yourself-into-thinking-it's-hilarious way) that in the midst of all the crap going on in Wisconsin right now 2/3 of the population still can't be bothered to come vote.

Stay awesome America.

GioClark wrote:
IMAGE(http://images1.memegenerator.net/ImageMacro/7123232/Awesomeland-is-next-to-Minnesota-Who-put-it-there.jpg?imageSize=Medium&generatorName=Bill-O-Reilly)

YOU CAN'T EXPLAIN THAT!!!

Ramona Kitzinger, the Democratic member of the county canvassing board who supported Kathy Nickolaus' integrity at the press conference, has backpedaled a bit.

Ramona Kitzinger wrote:
... with the enormous amount of attention this has received over the weekend, many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the “numbers jibed” as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy. As I told Kathy when I was called into the room – I am 80 years old and I don’t understand anything about computers. I don’t know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up. I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn’t even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy’s statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up.

That's one of the most honest statements I've ever heard by someone who made a mistake that became part of a scandal. Hopefully I'm not just thinking that because she said she's a confused old lady. I don't think so, anyway.

Our state's Government Accountability Board has deepened their investigation of Waukesha voting irregularities under Kathy Nickolaus to at least 2006.

Wisconsin State Journal[/url]]The results for the 2006 attorney general's race, for example, show 174,047 votes for either Democrat Kathleen Falk, Republican J.B. Van Hollen or write-in candidates, a total that is 17,243 votes higher than the total ballots cast recorded elsewhere in the results.

There are also indications that irregularities in Waukesha date back to 2004, which would be the first election where Kathy Nickolaus served as County Clerk (she was elected in 2002). There's a good writeup here (yes, it's dailykos, but the author provides links and sources for all her data).

Well, that could be very interesting. If she's cooking results, that would be a bad thing, although she'd instantly be the new Fox poster child for intrusive government harassment.

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