Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Last week I argued that the huge revision in vote totals in that Wisconsin judicial election could really have been the result of apolitical incompetence on the part of Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus, whose history of vote mismanagement, as I noted, extended to a GOP primary contest between two wingnuts, in which she presumably wouldn't have had a dog in the hunt.

In comments, I was repeatedly reminded that Nickolaus said the glitch happened because she hadn't saved the data -- when, in fact, you wouldn't have to save data in any spreadsheet program.

I was giving her the benefit of the doubt -- maybe this was a coverup for some other act of clumsiness -- largely because a Democrat backed her up:

...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."

Well, now I learn that Kitzinger is 80 years old.

And I bring that up because she brings it up, in a statement clarifying her earlier remarks:

...with the enormous amount of attention this has received over the weekend, many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the "numbers jibed" as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy. As I told Kathy when I was called into the room -- I am 80 years old and I don't understand anything about computers. I don't know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up. I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the ... error and it wasn't even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election. I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy's statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up.

My mother is 82 -- she's sharp, but boy, is she afraid of computers. She's never read this blog. I know octogenarians who are perfectly at ease with computers, but those who aren't really aren't. So Nickolaus took advantage of that. I assumed Kitzinger was someone who'd know whether something fishy was going on. I was wrong, based on what she now acknowledges.

So yeah, you were all correct: this stinks to high heaven. That should have been obvious to me.

And that primary? The loser (who was originally deemed a winner until Nickolaus found some new votes) was very, very far to the right, as was the winner -- but the loser, Christine Lufter, appears to have been an outsider who made her name trying to cut the size of the Waukesha County Board from 35 seats to 11. The mainstream of the GOP wanted to cut the board's size to 25, but 11 seems to have been a bridge too far.

So I guess the pols wanted to save at least some of their phony-baloney jobs, and they may have seen Lufter as someone who'd go a bit rogue on them. So maybe Nickolaus really did do the bidding of the party in that case.

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