Monday, August 13, 2012

ALERT: Kathy Nickolaus Threatens to Destroy Votes before Audit

While many county clerks have been open and transparent, county clerks all over Wisconsin are mysteriously trying to stop a non-partisan grassroots effort to verify the recall election for Scott Walker, and one clerk is taking things to a whole new level. Friday, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus informed the Wisconsin Wave and the "Hand Count the Votes Now!" coalition that she plans to illegally destroy all ballots in Waukesha County before her results can be verified with a hand count. According to the Wisconsin Wave, she "threatened" to begin the malfeasance "as early as noon today."

After the Walker recall election, discrepancies in the results prompted the non-partisan grassroots coalition to begin hand counting ballots throughout Wisconsin with open records requests. Even though the exit polls released at the beginning of election night had the race in a very tight 50/50, the official results were an unusual deviation of 53/46 for Walker. Then during the recount in Racine County, citizen-observers double-checked the gubernatorial results in the county and found "statistically significant discrepancies" that gave Walker more votes in the official GAB results than were actually cast for him. For the past month, volunteers have been working hard to verify the integrity of the recall election and uncover any more issues.

Unfortunately, "Hand Count the Votes Now!" and Wisconsin Wave volunteers have already uncovered many more "serious election integrity issues including lax ballot bag security, widespread use of [illegal] unverifiable touch screen voting machines, and most disturbingly, wards where the hand counts differ significantly from election night machine reported totals!"

Altering the results of an election and causing such discrepancies isn't as difficult as many people would have you believe. We saw many examples of these problems last year during the Wisconsin Supreme Court election of David Prosser. I've written many posts about the issues with Wisconsin's electronic election machines that allow one person to easily manipulate thousands of votes without detection. The only way we can be sure that something nefarious or accidental didn't happen to change the outcome of the recall election is to hand count the votes, something that is done in a very small number of Wisconsin counties.

Over the last two years, Wisconsin has been given many reasons to believe that some of our election equipment may have been circumvented. Unfortunately, we've been given very little to increase our confidence. Now, when we try to find answers for ourselves, public servants are standing in our way. County clerks who refuse to allow their ballots to be audited are failing their duty to their constituents.

Waukesha County itself has been an excellent demonstration of our failed policies, and the county continues to generate serious concerns. In July, an audit revealed that Kathy Nickolaus secretly changed the programming on the Waukesha County election equipment some time between certification and the April election, causing a failure in reporting during the election. Nickolaus confirmed she made a change but has refused to say what she changed, and it's not publicly known just how much of an involvement she had in the Walker recall election.

Now, Nickolaus is refusing to let Wisconsin know the true results of the recall election in Waukesha County. Not only is she refusing the legal open records request for access to the ballots, but she's threatening to destroy all evidence of the recall election in Waukesha County before the request process is even complete. While the law states that an appeal brought within 60 days of her refusal must be heard, she's making it clear how high the stakes are for her.

Nickolaus's threat only increases the justification for our concerns. If there is nothing to hide, why refuse the hand count? And what would bring someone to destroy records before an audit can take place? Kathy Nickolaus is definitely hiding something, and we must force her to show her cards before she destroys them!

The Wisconsin Wave is planning a rally today across the street from the Waukesha County government building from 11am-1pm to make it clear we mean business. If you're near Waukesha today, please consider joining the rally.

Call the GAB at (608) 266-8005 or email at to demand them to stop the destruction of ballots. If Nickolaus destroys the ballots, there is no way to find out what happened in Waukesha County.

Ballots from the recall election in at least 10 more counties will be counted over the next two weeks, but an additional 20-30 counties are in reach. Since this is a grassroots effort of people like you and me volunteering to count ballots, they really need volunteers and funds. While many county clerks are being reasonable, other county clerks are mysteriously charging unrealistically high fees in order to audit their ballots. So, the more funds the Wisconsin Wave can get, the better for the integrity of Wisconsin's elections.

For more information on the Hand Count the Votes Now! effort, see the Wisconsin Wave page.

If you want to help make sure there are no more undiscovered issues and ensure the integrity of our elections, please volunteer or contribute to the non-partisan grassroots effort at Wisconsin Wave. If there are undiscovered security lapses in our elections, we need to know and fix them. If someone has manipulated our elections, we need to know and prosecute them.

Update: At the last minute, Waukesha County thankfully announced that they will not be destroying the ballots.