Kathy Nickolaus and Why County Clerks Matter

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is a household name among many political wonks in the country. Many people know her name and can recite the events around this year’s Supreme Court election and can talk at length about the county audit on her work last fall. In some circles, her name is synonymous with professional incompetence and/or extreme malfeasance. How many of those same people can name their own county clerk? I know I couldn’t until I looked it up.

The good news is that Kathy Nickolaus is up for re-election next year! She ran uncontested last time. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again. I’m sure there are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle that are interested in finding a replacement for her. Here are the results from her last election.

The Clerk of Courts is a position that doesn’t attract a lot of attention and may induce yawns in even the most politically ardent, but I believe more attention needs to be focused on the this elected position because election integrity should be of high concern to everyone.

What could possibly be more important than having our votes counted correctly in every election? I’ve heard a lot of talk about “voter fraud”, but haven’t heard much talk about “election integrity”. Which makes more of an impact on an election, 3-5 unlawful voters or close to 15,000 votes that weren’t counted correctly? I am in no way condoning voter fraud and believe people who commit this crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for their actions. People face prison time and fines for voter fraud. What’s the appropriate punishment for a county clerk found guilty of professional misconduct?

As a voter I’ve always believed that county clerks are good at what they do and that political party plays no role in how clerks perform their duties. It never occurred to me to question election results that came out of any county in Wisconsin because I believed that all election results were deemed sound before they were released to the public. Sure, there have been problems with election results in other states such as Florida, but I believed my state was “above” that. Kathy Nickolaus from Waukesha County changed all that for me. I won’t go into each and every one of the errors that have occurred since she took office in 2002 because that would be far too lengthy. I’m only going to cover the last few months of her career.

She is most recently known for her role in the recall election of Alberta Darling on August 9th of this year. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a statement said “it is our belief that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus is tampering with the election that will determine the control of the Wisconsin Senate”. They have since retracted their statement. Mike Tate from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin explained their retraction by saying “Those heat-of-the-moment statements came in light of the uncertainties that arose from a recent election, known too well.”

Before that she was in the headlines for initially not counting over 14,000 ballots in the Supreme Court race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and David Prosser. Kathy attributed this to “human error”. She said she forgot to hit “save” when saving election results on election night and only noticed this error when she went back over the results. JoAnne Kloppenburg’s campaign filed a formal complaint with the Wisconsin GAB on April 20th of this year. Kathy Nickolaus is currently being investigated for “misconduct in carrying out her election duties during the spring election for state Supreme Court.” The complaint also mentions Kathy’s “neglect, incompetence and/or malfeasance in carrying out her public duties.”

We need to regain voter confidence in our election results for Waukesha County. One of the first things that can be done is make sure a new county clerk is elected.

For the record, my county clerk is Republican Lori O’Bright. She took office this year. I have full confidence that she is a great clerk of courts and is performing her duties with a high level of honesty, integrity and competency.

On cracking jokes, demanding democracy, and Prossercuting the Strangler

Almost every day I’ve seen a new photo by local photographer Peter Patau, known as @MadisonGuy on twitter and on flickr. When I saw the photo below, I realized that in my fixation on recall primaries, I’d overlooked the “Prosser Must Go” rally.

Last night my fella asked, “What’s going on now with Prossergate? Is he going to get Prossercuted?” and we chuckled.

Forward Against Prosser

This started me to pondering the jokes and icons we use to cope with our new world. We call Wisconsin “Fitzwalkerstan”. Friends mockingly choke each other, take pictures, and caption them with something like, “I’m being Prossered”. This blend of the gallows and play is nothing new. Continue reading

Joanne Kloppenburg concedes to Prosser. Calls for investigation of electoral process in Wisconsin.

Protest sign from Katy, 05/31/11

Joanne Kloppenburg has formally conceded to David Prosser and said she will not be pursuing judicial review of the recount results due to a high bar set by Wisconsin law. Kloppenburg would have had to catch election rigging actions red-handed to succeed in a challenge of the recount. Or as a judge might say, to succeed in challenging the recount results, Joanne Kloppenburg would have to supply clear evidence of  election “connivance, fraud, or undue influence”.

Ms. Kloppenburg does call for an independent investigation of Wisconsin’s Continue reading

Grab bag ‘o’ blogging: Recall Senator roster, Clerks recount tomorrow at 9am, Walker vs. Feingold

Recall Updates

Recalls against Republicans:

Next up: Cowles  The caravan of recall Cowles signatures arrives in Madison 12:30PM Thursday! AND there are rallies tomorrow!: in Kaukauna at 5pm, Green Bay at 7pm.  Details at GreenBayProgressive.com

from Daily Kos: “The Cowles filing is significant, as he is the sixth and final Republican potentially vulnerable in a recall election. With this filing, Democrats have thus maximized the number of Republican-held seats they could put in play during the recall elections.”

Democratic committees have already filed petitions against Senators Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, Alberta Darling and Harsdorf.

The Recall Grothman effort is still full steam ahead HERE on facebook as is the Mary Lazich effort.  As noted on that Lazich page, there is a Waterford Village Hall Thursday Paul Ryan listening session at 9:45AM – conveniently placed in Lazich’s district, and timed in advance of the may 2nd deadline to allow for more gathering of signatures against her.

• Thursday, April 28th, 9:45-10:45am
o Paul Ryan Budget Listening Session, Waterford Village Hall, 123 North River Street,

Waterford is between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva. MAP  This is the email to communicate with the Recall Lazich-volunteer@recalllazich.com

Recalls against Democratic Senators: As you suspected–Fred Risser and Lena Taylor are safe – their recall deadlines are passed. The deadline to submit signatures for Coggs will pass–an easy bet we won’t see any recall of Mark Miller either.

Republican committees have filed for recall elections against Senators Jim Holperin, Robert Wirch and Dave Hansen. Source Reuters

Clerks from 72 Wisconsin Counties and the Government Accountability Board

I’m listening to this as an archived audio recording right now. This is a conversation on how the statewide recount will transpire and it literally is a large teleconference call between 1 to 3 people in from all 72 counties in Wisconsin and staff at the Government Accountability Board.

So far, dull as dishwater. The recount starts tomorrow 9AM. Volunteer with  and get the latest on the Kloppenburg facebook page

Who thinks it’s a great idea  to privatize Benton Harbor in Michigan?

I had a little moment of WTF when I looked at who the staff is over at Mackinac Center, the “think tank” that’s behind the financial martial law in Michigan and then learned that the racial profile in Benton Harbor is 92% black.

I read up on this situation more than too much today and got good and ill. So…more to come on that soon.  There is a rally tomorrow, noon, in Benton Harbor.  This is the facebook page. Pass it on, please.  It’s IMO good that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has his own recall to face. 

Sickening social media coming to a facebook profile near you…

“The Koch brothers are launching a recruiting blitz on Facebook for maintaining the plutocracy.  In the last few days, I have encountered endless paid ads in the right-hand column of Facebook for a program called “Liberty at Work.” “Looking for Work?” the ad asks. It then describes positions throughout the country for advancing “conservative and libertarian” causes.”     More at  buzzflash

Survey says: Walker vs. Feingold Changes Things

51% of Wisconsinites say they oppose recalling Walker, compared to 44% who said they support recalling Walker

If survey respondents imagine Walker to run in a recall special election against recently deposed Sen. Russ Feingold,  things change:  48% oppose Walker’s recall and 48% support his recall election. More at TPM

I’m always wondering what Russ is doing (like who do I think I am…is Russ supposed to be calling me? *sigh* I don’t know…) I should probabaly be visiting Russ Feingold’s new project – ProgressivesUnited,org

The Kloppenburg Team Needs Donations and Volunteers for the Statewide Election Recount To Begin Wednesday

The top 2 notes are from this evening, 4/25/11 from the Kloppenburg team:

If you have evening hours available, we will have some volunteer opportunities available then too. 

We do need volunteers in St Croix county, so please let us know if you can volunteer some of your time.

Have you signed up yet for volunteer shifts? The recount starts this Wednesday at 9am. Please sign up today! Email:

General Volunteers:


Volunteer Lawyers:


In your email, please include:
Cell Phone (or preferred phone):
City / County:
Dates Available (4/27 to 5/9):
Willing to Travel?:
Willing to Help Recruit Others?:

To donate funds to the recount effort, please visit the Joanne Kloppenburg web site.

As to why funds are needed, here’s an explanation from Giles Goat Boy of Daily Kos :

“I admit, I have focused a lot on that half percent number in my own diaries, but the fact is, this will cost Kloppenburg a lot of money in legal fees. Apparently, Prosser’s lawyers have decided to fight the recount in every imaginable way in order to “run out the financial clock” on Kloppenburg, as described this morning by “The Nation” magazine’s John Nichols on local Madison radio.

There is no question that Kloppenburg is entitled to a recount, even without the half percent margin. Prosser’s lawyers have no valid legal argument to stop it, and they know it. Their strategy is simply to drain the Kloppenburg campaign of resources. You can help us fight back by donating to the Kloppenburg campaign. Corporate donations are not allowed, but individuals can donate any amount they feel comfortable giving for the recount effort.”

Volunteer Information is from The Joanne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court facebook page

Video of Jim Troupis on Wisconsin Recount, Supreme Court Race: Why didn’t you block her?

Here’s an interview of Jim Troupis, an attorney for David Prosser.  You’ll notice that at the 30 second mark, the reporters really badger Troupis about why he did not work harder to block Joanne Kloppenburg from the recount.

Of course it is fair to ask given his repeated threats to block.

The first reporter to confront Troupis is from TMJ4. The 2nd male voice which is just next to me comes from a NewsMax reporter who is practically whining – or scolding – “What happened today had nothing to do with your statement on Monday.”  he adds that Troupis “hasn’t done anything” and he makes it ALL CAPS CLEAR that he has not objected to it.

In part 2, Troupis gives a little information about who will come to Wisconsin from all over the nation to help in the recount. At the 56 second mark, the NewMax reporter asks for clarification on the recount.

Kloppenburg Campaign Manager files complaint against Waukesha County Clerk

The complaint – which you can see in full HERE – runs through facts that are stunning to see in all of their collected negligent and/or criminal glory, including some that are brand new for me.

At the conclusion of the document, Joanne Kloppenburg’s campaign manager Melissa Muliken calls for an independent investigation into Waukesha County Clerk Nickolaus on the part of G.A.B. to be conducted by an appointed special investigator and followed up by a “civil action for civil forfeitures and injunctive and declaratory relief”.

If the G.A.B. does not appoint an independent investigator to do the job, then Muliken asks that the G.A.B. refer the matter to a district attorney.

I knew about much of what was laid out in this complaint, BUT I was not certain that Kathy Nickolaus…

“did not publicly release any evidence such as a print-out form from her data system substantiating her explanation of the alleged “human error” in reporting the election results”

..and while I knew that the Democratic canvasser who spoke during the 4/7/11 press conference later expressed confusion and doubt about what went on, I didn’t know Nickolaus-

“did not mention the election-night omition of the Brookfield votes from the County’s vote totals during the Board of Canvassers public meeting”, and the G.A.B., the Brookfield City Clerk, and the County Canvass Board members had no idea of the magnitude of the ommission – that being that the entire village of Brookfield’s votes were gone – until the 5:30PM press conference 2 days after the April 5th vote.

(At this moment, I am inclined to just tug my hair out.)

The next three points Muliken brings up suggest at best a very chummy relationship between Prosser, Walker and Nickolaus. If our worst fears guide us, we imagine a full-on plot to rig the election.

The points add fuel in this request for a full and independent investigation.

1)The complaint notes that on the evening of Wednesday April 6th, David Prosser and Scott Walker had a “private one-on-one meeting” and adds that

2)Scott Walker made public statements that same day that ‘there might be “ballots somewhere, somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before” ‘

3)The complaint adds – without interpretation of these events – that Kathy Nicholous communicated with conservative media outlets such as the National Review online before communicating with the press of Wisconsin about the found votes.

The complaint then walks through a list of election red flags, including the one which stuns me each and every time I read it:

In 2004 Nicholous reported that 97.63% of the eligible voters in Waukesha cast ballots in that election. 

Just to point out how wild this number is ….Even in countries where voting is compulsory and eligible citizens are punished if they don’t vote, the voting rates are not this high!!

Examples:  Belgium at 93% and the Netherlands (when they did it) at 94.7% Source

Wisconsin’s G.A.B. intends to erase evidence in advance of statewide Kloppenburg/Prosser recount.

Hide and Seek

No. No. No.   The G.A.B is preparing to erase evidence?

**Update**–Evidence was not erased and will not be erased before a recount is conducted, all data to be backed up-if can’t be backed up – then hand recount serves as the recount More Here

“We are preparing to file an action in Circuit Court (represented by the Wisconsin Department of Justice) this Thursday, April 21 to seek court relief in some fashion to obtain permission to clear memory devices for reuse during the recount or to conduct a Statewide hand count of all ballots in the recount.”-Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

Obviously the G.A.B. seeks to retabulate the ballots cast during the election using the same machines that counted them in the first place.

But we need to rule out or validate possible foulplay: reprogramming of machines to flip votes. If I were Kloppenburg, I’d demand evaluation of the programming and the memory on voting machines in Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee counties and a hand recount of those votes.

[Please, edgy right wing trollers, take note. I am careful to not assume Republicans in Wisconsin or Republicans in these counties are criminals. I used the words “rule out” or “validate possible” in front of “foulplay”.]

In the article, “Whats Wrong with Waukesha Wisconsin? More Anomalies in Prosser and Kloppenburg Race” Eric Nelson sees

“…the possibility that some of these electronic voting machines have been reprogrammed to flip votes to a particular party or candidate in areas with high vote totals. The rationale for this would be that it would be much easier and more efficient to flip votes in heavy turnout and heavily partisan voting wards and the likelihood of being discovered would be far less.”

His data evaluation points to suspicion in Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee counties.

“only Waukesha county and to a lesser extent Washington and Ozaukee showed positive correlations between vote totals and vote spread (see Nelson’s data graphs at the original article). What this means is that in Waukesha as the number of votes that were tabulated in a particular ward became larger the magnitude of Prosser’s victory tended to become larger.”

Nelson did not see the same data trends on Kloppenburg’s side: “When we looked at counties where Kloppenburg won by a large margin such as Dane, Ashland and Bayfield counties there was no correlation between the vote total in a particular ward and the vote spread between Kloppenburg and Prosser. This was also true for Douglas and Eau Claire counties.”

Nelson calls for hand recounts in wards with high vote totals that used some type of electronic devices and also showed  “a very large spread between candidates”.

I couldn’t agree more.

I assume Joanne Kloppenburg will work to block G.A.B.’s attempt to erase voting device memory. Let’s all stay tuned.

Allegations of a secret meeting between Prosser and Walker

” .. in her complaint seeking a probe of Nickolaus, Kloppenburg alleges Prosser had a one-on-one meeting with Republican Gov. Scott Walker on the day after the election . ..

Prosser and Walker aide Chris Schrimpf denied the two met on April 6…

Melissa Mulliken, Kloppenburg’s campaign manager, said she had been in touch with two or three people with knowledge of a Prosser-Walker meeting, including at least one who observed Prosser entering the meeting. She declined to name the people.” – from MJS

I haven’t located the original complaint document, yet and I don’t understand what rules/laws might have been broken during the alleged meeting.

Add any  info you can provide  in a comment here and stay tuned…

Full Footage of Press Conference: Joanne Kloppenburg Files a Recount, Calls for Independent Investigation of Waukesha County Clerk

A direct link to the recorded press conference on YouTube.

And here’s the full text of her statement in PDF format. 

These are some pesky election “anomalies” we should be talking about.

And for a stroll down memory lane….previous articles:

Kloppenburg wins by an unofficial, uncertified 204 vote lead.

My Notes: Nickolaus’ explanation for discovering thousands of votes – April 7 press conference.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus Worked Under Prosser in a Wisconsin Assembly Dissolved by Scandal [April 10 article]

U.S. Attorney General’s help in election investigation requested by Rep. Baldwin

Joanne Kloppenburg

Joanne Kloppenburg files for a statewide Wisconsin Supreme Court election recount calling it “appropriate” and “necessary”. I agree.

“I’ve asked for a recount to determine what the right count is, and also to preserve confidence in the electoral process”

About 10 minutes ago a press conference concluded. Joanne Kloppenburg has filed for a statewide recount of the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

from The Brad Blog:

“I’ve asked for a recount to determine what the right count is, and also to preserve confidence in the electoral process,” she said in response to a question from reporters.

Kloppenburg stated that her campaign would be asking for a hand count of ballots in a number of districts, and will work with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state’s top election agency, to determine which areas should be hand counted. State recount procedures allow for a machine recount of paper ballots unless ordered by a court for hand examination.

Referring to critics of such a post-election examination of results, Kloppenburg was unflinching in her response. “They’ve called it a drama and a circus, but actually it’s called American Democracy.”

During her remarks, she also called for a special investigator for controversial Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, the focus of a number of anomalies that have appeared in election results since Election Night.

“The recount will reveal if there were discrepancies in the Waukesha vote count, but going forward, an independent investigation needs to determine what the clerk did there and why,” she explained, while pointing to a number of still-unanswered questions about post-election vote tallies in Waukesha, including why it is that “conservative bloggers” were told about those adjustments before they were announced publicly.

“I don’t know what will happen in the recount, but we’re asking for a recount to determine what the proper count should be, and to help, from this point forward, to assure that elections are fair,” Kloppenburg said, stressing her belief that the count should move forward for the benefit of all voters in Wisconsin…”

Her opponent David Prosser has vowed to fight her recount action: Prosser’s attorney James Troupis said they would take any steps to, “prevent this frivolous matter from going forward.”

Pundits both high and low on the right claim the recount will be fruitless and Prosser will remain the winner.

But extensive doubt about the practices of the Waukesha County Clerk, Kathy Nicklous have cast a long shadow over the election.

Prosser currently stands at a 7,316 vote win after all certified votes from 72 counties were tabulated at Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Office. However, a highly irregular canvass of votes in Waukesha County revealed approximately 14,000 votes almost 2 days after the evening of April 5th and kicked off a flurry of scrutiny of the election’s integrity and transparency.

The recount will be at state and county expense given that the margin of difference between Prosser and Kloppenburg falls within a 0.5% difference.

Grab bag ‘o’ Wisconsin: Recall updates, Election “anomolies”, Who spent $5.4 million on Prosser/Kloppenburg

A citizens group plans to file recall petitions against Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin by the end of this week

Holperin would be the first Democratic Senator in Wisconsin to face a confirmed recall election. He serves the far Northeastern wooded counties of Wisconsin in Senate District 12 MAP 

from wausaudailyherald

Unveiling of the Democratic Candidate Against Olsen

Running against Luther Olsen….”Democratic Candidate against Republican Sen. Luther Olsen in the recall will announce candidacy at 12:00 noon Thursday, Apr. 21 at the Veterans Memorial at the Baraboo Civic Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin”

And Number Four Is In Today: Recall Signatures for GOP’s Sheila Harsdorf

About 23,000 signatures came to Madison’s G.A.B. office today to initiate a recall election against Wisconsin GOP Senator, Sheila Harsdorf.   15,744 were needed for the collection effort. Here is the River Falls Recall Harsdorf Page on facebook.

Eric Nelson with OpEdNews evaluted the Prosser/Kloppenburg race and finds some “anomolies”

An article which should be read in full, but to get you interested: “… of about 15 different counties that we looked at that were either strongly Democratic or strongly Republican, only Waukesha county and to a lesser extent Washington and Ozaukee showed positive correlations between vote totals and Continue reading

Hello Attorney General Holder? We do have some work for you here in Waukesha. Voting irregularities go back to 2004…

Let’s assume the numbers as presented by “yourguest” below are deemed correct by people with a decent night’s sleep who can check them out
(this was published at approx. 11pm, I just found it at at 3AM)
Here’s the next question.Is it time to get a federal investigation?
Because if the writer “yourguest” caught it, and the G.A.B. didn’t catch this, Continue reading

Tammy Baldwin Writes U.S. Attorney General Requesting Federal Investigation of Election Practices in Waukesha County, Wisconsin

Representative Baldwin Asks U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder To Investigate

Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation into the questionable handling of vote records in Waukesha County.”Following this week’s election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one,” Baldwin said in the letter. “They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results.”…’ Smidge more info at a Blurb in Chicago Trib
Page 1 of Letter to Holder (click letters to get larger view)

Page 2 of Letter to Holder

Tammy Baldwin represents the U.S. Congressional 2nd District.  Madison, Wisconsin is in the center of the district which extends north  to Portage, skirts around the edge of Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, and then extends south to the border with Illinois. MAP
What else is going on with the Investigation of Waukesha County’s Clerk and Election Practices?
Kevin Kennedy of G.A.B. Does not think Federal Authorities Need to Be Involved.

Director of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Continue reading

So. About That Waukesha County Clerk. Seems She Made a Mockery of The Audit On Her Procedures

1) Before you read this, take your heart pills and/or make sure you’re not operating heavy machinery. Remain seated. You could get enraged.

2) I lifted this off of a good blog I’ll be returning to called The Brad Blog I see he also does audio (!!!)

So, to what enraged me. First off, when County Board members and the Waukesha County DOA discovered that Nickolaus kept “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” they were alarmed and conducted an audit of her operations.

Well, that sounds sensible.

But then, when I read this….I do feel a *silent scream* coming on:

“When presented with the results of the audit at a County Board meeting, Nickolaus said only she would take the recommendations “into consideration” and was then taken to task for what one member of the Executive Committee described as her “smirks” during the discussion, as reported by the Journal Sentinel in January of this year:

Several committee members said they were uncomfortable with Nickolaus’ refusal to adopt the recommendations.

During one part of the discussion, Dwyer erupted in exasperation at Nickolaus’ facial expressions.

“There really is nothing funny about this, Kathy,” he 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. After supervisors continued to press the issue, Nickolaus indicated she would create three different passwords.

“This isn’t that big of a deal. It isn’t worth an argument,” she said. “This is ridiculous.”

Nickolaus also said she would make her own assessment of when to back up computer programming for election ballots – and store the more frequent backup in another building, as the auditor recommended.

I don’t know if this person is demented or crooked or both…??  She’s entrusted with votes, for crying out loud. To know that her stubbornness and unprofessional conduct have been beyond frustrating to this very conservative government body in Waukesha – that gives me pause. Those folks are on the same Ruby Red political “side”.

Meanwhile, Caffeinated Politics is calling for the clerk’s resignation.