Friday, May 20, 2011

WI Court recount over, Prosser wins: What now?

The "Immaculate Election" is complete. With the recount now over for the Supreme Court race, it appears David Prosser retains his seat over off-the-charts-underdog JoAnne Kloppenburg whose 200-vote, April 5, election-day victory miraculously turned into a 7,316-vote deficit because one-time Prosser aide and current Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus forgot--she forgot!--to count some 14,000 votes from heavily Republicanized Brookfield in Waukesha County (previous post here).  And, amazingly, it just happened to benefit Prosser, the candidate in this non-partisan post that the Walker administration brazenly said would best help advance its agenda.

Although Kloppenburg gained only 306 votes during the recount, the far greater impact was that of restoring faith in the state's election system and its officials.  Kloppenburg said in her statement at the time of the recount request, "We must restore trust and confidence in the integrity of this and future elections."

So, what happens now?  Does Kloppenburg go to court to challenge the recount?  Her camp isn't saying.  Blogger Cieran (writng at the Daily Kos), however, tracked nearly 5,000 votes that were suspicious due to things such as improperly sealed or registered ballot bags, so it appears there could at least be a possibility of some tainted ballots.  In the Journal Sentinel, however, former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske implied that kind of challenge would be a very tough battle.

If, on the other hand, there is evidence of something more sinister, shall we say, either behind the handling of ballots by Nickolaus or courtesy of some other improprieties, things could get interesting.

To be honest, though, even without a smoking cannon here, the more this stays in the headlines, the more energized the anti-Walker base will be as recall elections come this July. And if this lasts beyond August 1 (when the next Justice term is slated to start), there will be a vacant seat if the collective bargaining bill then comes before the Court, which could lead to a 3-3 tie, in which case, the Journal Sentinel reports, "a lower court might have the last word."

The recount may be over, but the excitement may have just begun.

Photo of Kloppenburg from

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