The Democratic battle to elect a liberal judge who could help strike down Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union law in Wisconsin's Supreme Court has been dealt a serious blow after a batch of misplaced votes handed almost certain victory to the Republican candidate. The election between Republican Justice David Prosser and his Democratic challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, failed to produce a clear winner on Tuesday, but a Republican county clerk admitted Thursday night that she'd overlooked 14,000 votes in her district. While the "lost" votes give Prosser a 7,582-vote lead over Kloppenburg, the incident has triggered suspicions of electoral fraud, even though county Democrats affirmed the votes' veracity. Was the Wisconsin election stolen?
Yes. The GOP rigged this election: It's no coincidence that this "clerical error" gave Prosser almost the exact number of votes that he needed to avoid a state-funded recount, says Cieran at The Daily Kos. The Wisconsin GOP obviously figured they'd "add a few extra votes in a friendly area," and "steal the election." This "attempted fraud" must not be allowed to stand. A recount would reveal their shady tactics.
"Why Prosser needed EXACTLY +7500 votes"
Democrats are just being sore losers: This "conspiracy theory" doesn't hold much water, says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. The vote canvassing isn't finished, so the "spread could change" yet. If the GOP was really "targeting the precise number needed" to nix a recount, the plan "unfolded way too early." You can't blame the Dems for trying, though. "If a Democratic clerk found 7,500 votes for Kloppenburg, we'd be screaming bloody murder."
"They have not thought through the conspiracy theory"
The clerk did act suspiciously, though: Kathy Nickolaus, the county clerk in question, has a "history of secretive and erratic handling" of results, says John Nichols at The Nation. She was responsible for skewed results in a 2006 Assembly race, and tallies votes on her home computer. What's more, she "apparently knew of this 'mistake' for 29 hours before reporting it." Who needs a conspiracy theory? "The facts raise the questions."
"GOP clerk 'finds' votes to reverse defeat of conservative Wisconsin justice"
Well, this kind of mistake is not unprecedented: So Nickolaus apparently "has some history of human error when it comes to managing vote databases," says John Hayward at Human Events. That doesn't mean she's a "vote-manufacturing tool of the Koch brothers." Given the "primitive voting system" used in Wisconsin, we shouldn't really be surprised. This error should be recognized for what it was: a simple mistake.