Friday, April 8, 2011

Nicked Votes

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has apparently, due to "human error"- namely, her own- failed to input 14,315 votes from Brookfield, which when added into the totals hand David Prosser a 7,000 vote lead. That's just barely enough to push the race out of the realm of an automatic recount, meaning Joanne Kloppenburg would have to pay for it, at the cost of $5 a ward.

When one looks at Nickolaus, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, it becomes clear she is used to this kind of attention...

In the 1990s, she worked as a staffer for the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups that were shut down following a criminal investigation into state staffers doing campaign work on state time.

Prosser led Assembly Republicans as minority leader in that House from 1989 to 1994 and than as speaker in 1995 and 1996, giving him oversight of the GOP caucus in that House.

"To my knowledge (Prosser) has not had any contact with Kathy since she left the caucus," Prosser campaign manager Brian Nemoir said.

The caucus investigation eventually led to the resignations and criminal convictions of leaders in the Senate and Assembly for directing caucus and staff employees to engage in illegal political activity during their state employment.

Nickolaus, who earned $54,000 a year as a data analyst and computer specialist for Assembly Republicans, was granted immunity in 2001 by authorities conducting the investigation.

In a criminal complaint issued in 2002 against then-Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and others, prosecutors claimed Nickolaus developed a computer software program that was used by state officials to track donations. According to a Journal Sentinel report, Nickolaus said she developed the software on her own time because she wanted to sell it to the state elections agency for use in automating state-required campaign reports. She left the caucus around that time.

Given the timing of the find, the very coincidental amount of votes found, the place they were found being Prosser's and the Republican base, and Nickolaus' previous history, even after 538 pegs it all as incompetence rather than corruption, it seems fishier than the Time Bandit. Either way, it means Nickolaus has messed up badly.

If this is corruption, Nickolaus has stolen an election.
If this is incompetence, Nickolaus has disenfranchised 14,315 people, even if only for two days.

Either way, she should not be allowed anywhere near the inner workings of the political process at any point in the future.

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