"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wisconsin Update - The Wow! Factor

For my readers (you know who you are) out-of-state or overseas, here is the latest on Wisconsin's Supreme Court election.  In what can only be described as a stunning development, the county clerk in Waukesha County late yesterday announced that, because of a clerical/computing error, she had failed to hit "save" when the votes from the City of Brookfield were submitted, and therefore they had not been counted.  Waukesha is essentially the western suburbs of Milwaukee, it's fairly affluent (with Brookfield being the most affluent community) and, because of "white flight" over the past decades, has become the most conservative county in the state.   Not surprisingly, Brookfield went overwhelmingly for Justice David Prosser, the conservative incumbent, giving him a margin of more than 7,500 votes.   So, what looked like an extraordinarily close race yesterday, with the challenger Kloppenburg initially ahead, then Prosser seemingly taking a small lead in the afternoon as the official tallies came in, now looks like a modestly comfortable margin for Prosser, which may mean we won't have to go through a recount.   (I think it's likely that the Democrats will demand a recount anyway, because they can use the issue politically, both to score points and to raise money for future uses.)

Here is a clip from the press conference in Waukesha where the error and the new results were announced.   The reporter asks whether there was a Democratic Party representative in the room -- apparently not knowing that, as a matter of law, each county's election commission has to have an appointee from the party opposite from the party of the elected clerk.   The County Clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, says yes.   The reporter then asks in a somewhat aggressive tone if that Democrat will make a statement confirming the results.  Nickolaus stands aside and ushers forward the Democratic member of the County election commission, who identifies herself as also being the Vice-Chair of the County Democratic Party.   It's an amazing moment that reminds me a little of the moment in Annie Hall where Woody Allen pulls Marshall McLuhan out of the crowd to make a point to an effete intellectual who had been hectoring him about McLuhan's work.  

And, for schadenfreude purposes, here is Kloppenburg's "victory" speech when she thought she was ahead by 204 votes:

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