April 8, 2011- On Thursday, April 7, in the required statewide canvas of election results, the Milwaukee County election clerk reported 7,500 more votes discovered in West Allis for JoAnne Kloppenburg, giving her an insurmountable lead in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. That raised West Allis turnout of eligible voters to a believable 39% and will force her opponent, incumbent David Prosser, to have to pay $5 a ward if he wants to challenge her victory, since the new margin puts her safely above the half of 1% threshold where the government pays for the recount.
This is shocking news, and I made it up.
I made it up after a night of talking to law enforcement leaders and public officials about the dumfounding and frankly unbelievable discovery of 7,500 more votes for Prosser in GOP stranglehold Waukesha County. It was those I interviewed who offered my “what if” news story as an alternative.
One of them, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, is always at pains to wait for evidence and play fair to both sides, so he is taking Waukesha County election clerk Kathy Nickolaus at her word that this was human error, however bizarre. But having endured GOP invective and flat invention of voter fraud in Milwaukee, which he has actively pursued on his own and as a part of a statewide taskforce, having listened for years to the real stories of disenfranchised voters and falsehoods of made-up disenfranchisement and having scrupulously examined every kind of voter error in the books, he insists that fairness should cut both ways.
So he raised my scenario. Chisholm has no doubts that if 7,500 votes for Kloppenburg suddenly popped up in his terrain, “There would be state police squads flying in immediately and every computer and ballot box would be confiscated and secured instantly.”
Of course, nothing has happened in Waukesha except apologies for “human error” and no authorized law enforcement agency stepping forward to secure anything. This despite the reality that in these technology-sophisticated days voter fraud is far more likely from manipulation of computer files, from playing with Excel templates and Access macros, than prevented by flashing photo IDs in front of octogenarian poll workers, as a new state law to disenfranchise older voters and students would soon mandate.
Chisholm’s scenario is doubly apt. The Republicans would instantly cry foul if such an explosion of uncounted votes occurred in Democratic leaning Milwaukee two days after Associated Press tallies. But why hasn’t the same fair approach to surprise erupted in Republican-leaning Waukesha County?
Is there some pretense that conservatives are more law abiding than liberals? That sure vanished given Gov. Walker. The polite insistence of thousands of Walker protesters in Madison has now been measured against the governor’s efforts to hold midnight votes and flout court restraining orders to force his own will. So who looks like the scofflaw to a lot of citizens? Particularly in a state that saw 19 counties whose majority voted for Walker backing Kloppenburg over Prosser April 5.