The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, has released its report on the controversial April election for state Supreme Court -- where vote-counting problems in Waukesha County resulted in the announced discovery of un-tabulated votes, putting incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser ahead in the state Supreme Court race against his liberal-backed opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg. The report finds probable cause to believe that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus (R) violated the laws and procedures for administering the count -- but that her actions were not willful, criminal misconduct.
Notably, the report concludes that Nickolaus could not have possibly manipulated vote totals, as some members of the public came to believe -- because the City of Brookfield, the center of the vote-counting controversy, had in fact independently reported its correct vote totals to local media sources on election night. However, Nickolaus may have violated the law requiring county clerks to post all detailed results that night, when she made the mistake in calculating the county's spreadsheet.
From the GAB's publicly released report:
As a result of the investigation, the G.A.B. has issued an order requiring Clerk Nickolaus to conform her conduct to law and take certain steps to ensure accountability and transparency in her Election Night reporting practices prior to the February 2012 spring primary. Those steps include releasing detailed results on Election Night, instead of only county-wide figures. Had Clerk Nickolaus reported all results separately on Election Night, her failure to include numbers from the City of Brookfield would have been apparent immediately, rather than the next morning when she discovered the problem.
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"Your actions following the April 5, 2011 Spring election did not conform to the legal requirements imposed on county clerks," G.A.B. Chairperson Thomas H. Barland said in a letter to Clerk Nickolaus. "When one election official fails to act consistent with those responsibilities, steps must be taken to correct the failure in order to prevent it from recurring, and to restore public confidence and trust in the administration of elections."