11:03pm

Thu April 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Wisconsin Supreme Ct Shocker: Error Fix Gives GOP Judge Big Lead

Wisconsin used to be such a predictably stolid Midwestern state. Now it may as well be Florida.

When I previously wrote, on Wednesday, about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, JoAnne Kloppenberg, the Democratic challenger to Justice David Prosser, a Republican, had declared victory in the nationally watched race after gaining a lead of 204 votes.

But she was apparently premature because she was actually behind by more than 7,000 votes in the race in which drew more than 1.5 million voters state-wide. The contest came to be seen as a referendum on the controversial Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his effort to reduce the power of public-employee unions in the state.

The city of Brookfield in Waukesha County apparently sent in its results to the county clerk who logged them in her system but forgot to save the data.

Thus, when the county's results were provided to the media, they didn't include the Brookfield votes. The county official later discovered the mistake and added back the missing votes.

This turn of events, improbable and shocking as they are, will likely make many Democrats suspect electoral chicanery, especially since the county official, Kathy Nickolaus, is a Republican and the missing votes were from a strongly Republican area.

But Democrats on hand to review the situation appear satisfied that the added votes are valid.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which has a story full of details on the day's happenings, reported:

At the news conference with Nickolaus, Ramona Kitzinger, the Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers, said: "We went over everything and made sure all the numbers jibed up and they did. Those numbers jibed up and we're satisfied they're correct."

As a Democrat, she said, "I'm not going to stand here and tell you something that's not true."

A recount is still expected and, the way things are going in Wisconsin, who knows what could happen next? But a lead of more than 7,000 votes would appear a difficult one to overcome.

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