Lots of Attention for Waukesha County Clerk After Report Confirms Election Violations
Newspaper editorials, bloggers call for punishment of Kathy Nickolaus, better system statewide and point out lessons learned.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus won't face any criminal charges for the Supreme Court election results mess caused when she failed to tell anyone about Brookfield's votes. This week, her actions are getting plenty of attention.
An independent probe into the situation found Nickolaus likely violated state elections laws in her bungled release of state Supreme Court election results in April, but her conduct was not willful or criminal. Read the report.
On Monday, the Appleton Post Crescent wrote in an editorial that Nickolaus should be punished. The paper said it believes her mistake was "an honest mistake," but that sometimes even those need to be punished.
Given Nickolaus' position as a public official, her previous problem with election tallies, the disregard of the law that led to her mistake in April and the result from it, punishment is necessary. … As the GAB report said, Nickolaus didn't have a system to check for errors; she didn't double-check her numbers before releasing them; she didn't post the results by ward, which would have revealed the problem immediately; she instead only posted a countywide total; once she discovered the problem, she wasn't initially transparent about revealing it; and when she did public announce the mistake, she didn't adequately explain how it happened.
The paper said that while initial cries that the Brookfield vote discrepancy that gave the election to Prosser over Kloppenburg were the result of voter fraud or election stealing by a Republican county clerk were dismissed, it points to a bigger issue.
But the fact that an entire city's votes could get lost in the tabulation process is still troubling.
It is also troubling that there is not a single, uniform method for casting and tabulating votes in Wisconsin. Each municipal clerk — and there are more than 1,800 of them in the state — can decide how to conduct the election process in his or her municipality. This, it would seem, creates a high potential for mistakes.
This weakness in the process — more than the trumped up allegations of vote fraud that led to the passage of the photo ID law — should be of concern to lawmakers.
1. Slow down, be careful and double-check
2. If something goes wrong, ask for help - and come clean right away.
Come to think of it, those are good life lessons for anyone.