Paper ignores wide-spread irregularities, mistallies, massive chain of custody violations discovered in state's Supreme Court race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2011, 9:01pm PT  

We have been working, over the past week --- digging into details, speaking with election officials --- on a new article we hope to publish soon on the "recount" of the April 5th Wisconsin Supreme Court election between the Republican incumbent Justice David Prosser and his independent challenger Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.

If all continues apace, the article will follow up with details on still more disturbing new "irregularities" discovered recently during the continuing count in Waukesha County and elsewhere across the state, following on our earlier reports of wide-spread irregularities such as"wide open" ballots bags in Waukesha and elsewhere, ballots discovered unsecured on the desk of a city clerk, and inaccurate counting in Milwaukee. In all, the unavoidable fact we continue to see is that, thanks to Wisconsin's woeful election procedures, pathetic chain of custody requirements, and horrible secret vote-tabulation computers, nobody can know for certain whether thousands of ballots being counted today are the ones actually cast by voters on Election Day.

Taking all that we've learned into account, one might even conclude: This is no way to run an election. But more on that soon.

In the meantime, in her first official public statement since her April 20 press conference announcing her intention to ask for a "recount" and a special investigation of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, Kloppenburg speaks out today in an op/ed response to an embarrassingly obnoxious unbylined editorial by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board published last week.

The Journal Sentinel's three paragraph, anti-democratic (small "d") pot-shot last week --- which may as well have been written by the campaign of Justice Prosser, criminally-inclined candidate whom the paper endorsed (even as they failed to disclose that point in their editorial) --- was riddled with evidence-free assertions, and mocked the very idea of a "recount" as a "waste of time," on the grounds that they believe "nothing will change in the election for state Supreme Court."

The paper failed, sadly, to note that more than 2,600 votes have, so far, been discovered as originally mistallied by the state's woeful computerized tabulation systems (and that's with hand counts performed in only 31 of the state's 72 counties) and the inability to confirm, thanks to the blatant violations of chain of custody, that thousands of votes being counted are actually the same as those originally cast.

Kloppenburg's op/ed details some of the "irregularities" being found, but ignored by the Journal Sentinel's editorial board, this way...

The recount has uncovered significant and widespread errors and anomalies in the securing of ballots and recording of votes on election day. There have been changes to vote totals in every county due to miscounted or missing votes.

Many bags of ballots have been found to be essentially unsealed or ripped to the extent that ballot security is compromised. A stack of ballots, unbagged, was found in a clerk's office. Ballots were found in voting machines where they had been left. Seal numbers on ballot bags and tags were not recorded in the inspector's reports, creating doubt that the bags were properly sealed on election night.

Touchscreen voting machine tapes were missing votes, or worse, were entirely blank and had to be reproduced from machine memory to allow a recount of the vote.

The most widespread and systemic errors and anomalies have been discovered in Waukesha County. That county was already under a cloud, and this recount has revealed more questions about elections practices there.

"When races are this close," the Asst. AG writes, "there is a significant public interest established both by statute and by common sense in determining that votes were counted and counted accurately."

Unfortunately, that may no longer be possible and it's a shame the Journal Sentinel failed to point that out in their editorial. One would think it might be of note to their readers.

"[T]here are appropriate and established steps that help make sure the outcome of elections, when in doubt, can withstand scrutiny. That, no more and no less, is exactly why this recount is so important," writes Kloppenburg rather sensibly, in light of the originally canvassed razor-thin (0.488% margin) election outcome which seems to be failing miserably at withstanding the "scrutiny" she refers to.

With as many as 9 politically-charged state Senate recall elections likely to take place soon in the Badger State in response to the controversial union-stripping agenda rammed through the Republican-majority legislature at the behest of Prosser and Nickolaus' former colleague Gov. Scott Walker, how embarrassing for the paper that they didn't take the opportunity to call out the state on its deplorable election processes so that this shameful exercise might be avoided in those upcoming elections.

Instead, they chose to take unwarranted, inaccurate, undisclosed-interest conflicted, un-democratic potshots at Kloppenburg for demanding transparency, accuracy, and accountability in hopes that voters may have confidence in their own elections.

(For the record, to preempt embarrassment for you partisans out there, we have similarly supported post-election reconciliations many times in the past, for Republican, Democratic, "third-party," and independent candidates alike. We would have done the same for Prosser, criminally-inclined or otherwise, as even our very first report on this election suggested. Election integrity is not a matter of Right v. Left, it's about transparency, citizen oversight, self-governance, and right versus wrong.)

Of the three grafs penned by the Journal Sentinel editorial board last week, forcing Kloppenburg's response today, we can find just one sentence with which we can wholeheartedly agree, the final one: "This is no way to run an election."

It certainly isn't. Too bad the Journal Sentinel's editorial board simply chose to fail to point out why that is.

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