It seems like just yesterday we were talking about how the Chicago Way led to Wisconsin. Nepotism, jobs for girlfriends… next thing you know, there’ll be a vote-counting controversy.
Then, suppose it was announced by a Democratic election official in Chicago that she had found 14,000 votes in a machine-controlled ward that overwhelmingly favored the candidate aligned with the Democratic governor.
Now suppose that the number of additional votes tabulated for the governor’s candidate was precisely the number needed to prevent the independent candidate from demanding an official recount.
That’s the editorial page of the Capitol Times, invoking the ghosts of Chicago politics in reference to the appearance of 14,000 extra votes in Waukesha County, which voted in droves for David Prosser, the Supreme Court candidate favored by Wisconsin Republicans in the not-exactly non-partisan race. What happened? County clerk Kathy Nickolaus forgot to save them to her computer. Nickolaus had not previously been known as a power user.
Chicagoans, as noted, will obviously be suspicious. But there are a couple things to note.
1. The Democratic member of the Waukesha County board of canvass is backing up Nickolaus.
2. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel took the county’s turnout rate with and without the additional 14,000 votes and compared it to previous voting trends as well as turnout in other areas of the state, and found that the higher vote total was entirely plausible.
They’ve got a ways to go if they’re going to compete with Illinois, where 66 election officials were convicted of or pleaded guilty to vote fraud after the 1972 elections.
Not to mention that Wisconsin voters have apparently delivered enough petitions to kick off the recall effort against Randy Hopper, and the well-connected, marginally qualified lobbyists son who caused waves by taking a state gig up and quit. Don’t start writing your TV serial just yet.
Photograph: Rochelle, et al. (CC by 2.0)