Monday, May 9, 2011

Alarming Lack of Clarity in Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Recount

I hammered away for days if not weeks after the election, demanding a recount, so that we could have some confidence in the election results. Given the issues with our computer election equipment, which were brought to light by the fiasco in Waukesha County, there's not a single person who can say all of the vote counts throughout Wisconsin are correct. The only counts we can say are correct are those that were hand counted, but that occurred in only parts of 31 of our 72 counties (and a few that don't have machines). Even then, with unresolved ballot bag issues, there may be reason to suspect some hand recounts.

So many questions have gone unanswered (which causes more questions given this is all supposed to be transparent) from why election software can lose votes to why ballot bags are left so insecurely. Some issues get explained, but such issues never seem to be the ones we're concerned about. I don't understand why the people who are supposed to be explaining these things to us continue to refuse to do so. There's no reason they can't quickly address the issues to increase our confidence, especially given all of the suspicions. This recount isn't giving us any confirmation that the election was open, fair and clean, but that's what recounts are supposed to be for.

In 2008, the nation witnessed how a recount is properly conducted. The Minnesota recount in Senator Al Franken's election was entirely a hand recount and issues were resolved out in the open. In fact, the recount was broadly reported on, and they even posted all disputed ballots online for all to see. No one could say at the end of that recount that Franken didn't win.

Unfortunately, we won't have the same confidence in this recount. What's worse, whoever wins sits for ten years. With so much at stake, and so many questions, why the heck aren't we properly and transparently conducting this recount for all to see?

I'm grateful that Waukesha County is live streaming their recount, but I don't understand why this wasn't setup for every county. There's little time and expense in setting up such a live stream, but it provides a large increase in transparency and confidence in our elections. For example, the public knows about most of the ballot bag issues simply because one concerned Wisconsinite has been watching the live stream quite intently. How many other counties had issues with ballot bags that we don't know about because those counties' recounts weren't streamed online? It's a shame that we use computers to count votes, but still live in the dark ages when it comes to recounts.

Sure the issues with ballot bags are great for news stories and conspiracy theories, and there really may be lost or improper votes from those bags, but the real problems lie with the fact that our vote counting machines could very well be counting our votes incorrectly. It doesn't take a conspiracy for thousands of votes somewhere in Wisconsin to have been incorrectly counted. This issue hasn't been addressed or resolved.

By the way, the new tally from the recount brings more suspicion by itself. I bring this up again because we have so little information to work with. Since we presume Prosser has more votes than Kloppenburg, he should also have a majority of new votes from the recount. However, so far, Kloppenburg is leading the new votes by quite a large margin (548-296). It's not proof of issues with the vote count, but it can be a red flag. Unless this wide margin doesn't hold or is explained, it's additional cause for concern that the vote counts somewhere are incorrect.

I'm going to say this completely factual statement now in the hopes that we get some more clarity. Unless we get more clarity, there's no reason to believe the results of this election and its recount.

If the recount ends (May 26th) without the start of a proper investigation, I will rightly denounce the validity of the winner's victory every chance I can.


  1. "If the recount ends (May 26th) without the start of a proper investigation, I will rightly denounce the validity of the winner's victory every chance I can."

    Unless it's Kloppenburg, of course....

  2. Absolutely not. There wouldn't be proof that she won either.

    All I want is to know who Wisconsin truly voted for.