Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kloppenburg Was Right To Request A Recount

Kloppenburg was right to request a recount. I don't know who wouldn't request a recount in such a close election. Wisconsin State law provides for a "free" recount when the result is this close. There's even a level in between "free" and having to fully finance a recount. Also, past elections do not necessarily predict future results. Just because most recounts in previous elections haven't changed the winner, it doesn't mean that there's any less of a chance of a recount unveiling a different winner. Mathematically, there's a much higher likelihood of the recount showing that Kloppenburg truly won than you winning the jackpot from that lottery ticket you bought earlier today.

However, as I've stated before, closeness shouldn't be the only reason to request a recount. There are many reasons that a reasonable person might think the official vote counts using tallies from the election computers are incorrect, because there are many ways for that to happen and the election computers in Waukesha County are extremely suspect. To my knowledge, the GAB didn't fully inspect their integrity - an example of the very little clarity in this situation. I'm not going to enumerate here all of the various questions and ways vote counts could be changed, because I've already posted more than enough times, and so have many other people. Kloppenburg shouldn't have been expected to make a decision to recount without more clarification about what happened in that county, and there are many reasons to think that a recount will uncover serious discrepancies in at least Waukesha County.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus could have prevented a lot of criticism by simply telling the public about the error when she verified it occurred. It only hurt her by waiting, and I still can't understand why she did. Even still, Nickolaus had nearly two weeks to address the questions regarding her explanation, but she didn't once. Not only could Nickolaus have prevented criticism by offering further explanation, she may very well have prevented a recount by doing so. However, that isn't to say there aren't or may not be significant issues in other counties, but the lack of clarity in Waukesha and her refusal to offer any further details magnified the concerns that something could have happened there as well as other counties.

Republicans bring up issues with elections all of the time. Although they tend to focus on voter fraud. Voter fraud is easier to detect than computer errors and manipulations, but voter fraud hasn't been shown to be a factor. Republicans should be just as suspicious of what may have happened in Waukesha County and around the state, because any deliberate actions or incidental errors that change the count could easily be repeated in a Democratic controlled county unless we determine exactly what happened and put prevention measures in place. And who's to say something didn't happen in a Democratic controlled county? I argue that it's out of ignorance or selfishness that a Republican would deny there are real issues that require impartial investigation and a recount, because they yell so loudly about much smaller election issues.

Waukesha County was just one example of how computer errors can skew elections, and we don't even know exactly what happened there. People who say this recount is unwarranted and point to Waukesha County saying it's resolved are wrong, and you can tell by their weak statements. We don't know for sure the vote counts from any count match the actual vote counts. Nothing has been resolved in Waukesha County, and the Government Accountability Board (who may be suspect in this as well) is still not finished with their investigation.

In Kloppenburg's announcement of her request for a recount, she listed several other reasons to suspect that the official vote counts from other counties don't match the actual counts. From long lines to photo-copied ballots, we'll be given more details about these issues in the coming days. We must carefully examine the issues in all counties, because we want to ensure the integrity of our elections.

With the closeness of this election, the relevance of these anomalies increases. Every vote counts, but in wide elections, a few thousand votes don't change the outcome. They do in this election. We'd like to think anomalies always matter, and I argue they do, but people are reluctant to spend money to look into them unless they could potentially change the outcome. Since Kloppenburg requested a recount, we have a chance to determine what the issues are and hopefully fix them in future elections. This is how the recount can benefit the entire state of Wisconsin.

We need to know our elections are fair, accurate and secure, and the only way to determine that in this election is to do a statewide recount and investigate at the very least Waukesha County's system and processes. We need some clarity, we must ensure our elections are in fact fair, accurate and secure. Don't you want to be sure of that?

If Prosser is shown to be the true winner, I will be one of the first to congratulate him and his supporters. However, right now there's absolutely no proof that Prosser is the winner.

Update: (12:26pm) I just saw this at WisPolitics, and I didn't think to consider the recount wouldn't be a hand recount. At the very least, we need to inspect the way election computers are inspected and verified, but the only way we can know the true vote count is to do a hand count. There's no way around that fact.

Update: (3:32pm) Other people have noted that this recount will likely cost Kloppenburg a lot of money. However, she can accept donations for the recount to ensure the integrity of Wisconsin's elections on her website

Update: (4:10pm) The candidates have agreed to a hand recount in the 31 counties that didn't have the memory to run an electronic recount. This will go a long way in helping to ensure the vote-counting machines are accurate. Proving an electronic vote-counting machine can be inaccurate or potentially compromised is not difficult. If there are other suspicions, we must make them heard now.

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