[lbo-talk] Ruth Conniff on the dubious practices of the Waukesha voting clerk

John Wesley godisamethodist at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 8 12:44:06 PDT 2011

It's the old "18 1/2 mins." error all over again!

________________________________ From: Michael Pollak <mpollak at panix.com> To: lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org Sent: Fri, April 8, 2011 1:48:22 PM Subject: [lbo-talk] Ruth Conniff on the dubious practices of the Waukesha voting clerk


  April 7, 2011   The Progressive

  Oops! Republican Clerk's 7,500 Extra Votes for Prosser   By Ruth Conniff

  It really is Fitzwalkerstan.

  Kathy Nickolaus, County Clerk in heavily Republican Waukesha, announced   in a press conference yesterday that she had made a "human error" in   recording vote totals, and that the real total is 7,500 more for   Justice David Prosser than reported on election night.

  That just happens to put Prosser in the winner category, barely out of   range of a state-financed recount.

  Nickolaus apologized for her mistake, but, on the positive side, said   she was "proud" of the higher turnout than previously reported in her   county.


  But wait, it gets better. Nickolaus worked for Prosser years ago when   he was a Republican assemblyman in Madison, Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan   reminds us. And she was granted immunity to testify during the 2002   Republican caucus investigations, concerning campaign finance   violations by Republican legislators and their staff.

  Better yet, since taking her job as county clerk in Waukesha, Nickolaus   has insisted on keeping election data on her personal computer, under   her personal control.

  Hence those awkward moments at the press conference when she switched   from using the word "we" to the word "I" as she described how she saved   the data as vote totals came in and really has no idea how it came out   wrong in the end but still accepts full responsibility for the "human   error."

  How does she know it was human error if she thinks she did everything   right, reporters asked her.

  Well, maybe some software feature wasn't enabled, she allowed.

  Is there any way to figure out now what went wrong, reporters asked.

  "Not that I'm aware of," Nickolaus replied.

  The error turned up during the "canvass" process, in which paper   records from voting machines are compared to the computerized reports   of vote totals. Brad Friedman of the Bradblog points out the best part:   Nickolaus has insisted on keeping elections data on a personal computer   in her office--to which she alone has access--and rebuffed demands by   auditors that she upgrade to a safer and more tamper-proof system.

  Friedman quotes a Journal-Sentinel article on the controversy around   the audit and Nickolaus's unorthodox practice of hoarding control over   elections data.

  "Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' decision to go it alone in how   she collects and maintains election results has some county officials   raising a red flag about the integrity of the system," the Laurel   Walker of the Journal-Sentinel reported. "Nickolaus said she decided to   take the election data collection and storage system off the county's   computer network - and keep it on stand-alone personal computers   accessible only in her office - for security reasons. 'What it gave me   was good security of the elections from start to finish, without the   ability of someone unauthorized to be involved,' she said."

  The Journal Sentinel reported in January that Nickolaus was chastised   by county board member Jim Dwyer for sneering and smirking during a   hearing on whether she had adequate safeguards on the computer system   that keeps track of votes. As Walker reported it, county board members   got angry at her attitude. "'There really is nothing funny about this,   Kathy,'" [Dwyer] said, raising his voice. 'Don't sit there and grin   when I'm explaining what this is about. Don't sit there and say I will   take it into consideration,' he said, asking her pointedly whether she   would change the passwords. 'I have not made my decision,' she   answered."

  As one outraged Wisconsin elections official put it:

  "This woman has single-handedly destroyed the credibility of my entire   profession. The important detail here is not whether the numbers are   right or not (they very well may be, as the explanation from the board   of canvass is at least plausible). The real issue is how the process of   reporting was so distorted by secrecy that the public was denied access   to the raw data in real time." The damage to voter confidence in the   state is " irreparable."

  Meanwhile, Prosser has hired Ben Ginsberg, a Republican lawyer who   worked on the Florida recount for George W. Bush.

  Get enough people in the right places and this whole democracy problem   can be cleared right up.

  Ah, Wisconsin, the civilized, clean-government, open-meetings state.   How we miss you.

    If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of     The Progressive, check out her story "Wisconsin Leads the War on     Public Schools."

  [twitter-s.gif] Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter ___________________________________ http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list