Troubled County Clerk Ordered to Step Aside in Recall Elections
County Executive Dan Vrakas gives Kathy Nickolaus two options: resign or have deputy clerk oversee department during upcoming recall race.
It’s two strikes and out for Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, whose latest Election Day pickle led County Executive Dan Vrakas to relieve her of her duties for the historic recall elections in May and June.
According to a statement released Thursday from the County Executive’s Office, Vrakas posed an ultimatum to Nickolaus in an effort to restore confidence in the upcoming election: Either resign as clerk or she designate her Election Day duties to the deputy clerk.
Nickolaus chose the latter.
“Kathy agreed to hand off her election duties to the deputy county clerk in order to avoid my public call for her resignation,” Vrakas said. “In stepping aside, Kathy also agreed to allow outside consultants and county staff to work side-by-side with the deputy clerk to help restore confidence in our election process.”
Vrakas stated that the county plans to move swiftly to examine the problems that arose during Tuesday’s election.
Patch contacted Vrakas’ office for more information, however, a call back was not immediately received. Democratic Party of Wisconsin Spokesman Grame Zielinski wasn't conviced the move will restore the integrity of the upcoming election.
“This is strange news and still offers no great assurances to the voters of Waukesha County that their votes will be properly counted,” Zielinksi said. “Her legacy of incompetence has made this so.”
Vrakas' announcement comes just two days after a trouble-filled election night in Waukesha County, when some election results weren't posted until 10 hours after the polls closed.
Nickolaus, who garnered national attention last April when her office made a mistake that flipped the outcome of a hotly contested state Supreme Court race, said she introduced new procedures Tuesday to follow guidelines set forth by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state.
As a result, some elections results were not posted on the county's website until 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Nickolaus told Patch Wednesday she blamed the procedures set by the GAB for slowing down the vote counting.
“We felt that the process was very cumbersome,” she said. “We need to have a better process before May, and I’ll be contacting the GAB about that.”
This isn't the first problem in the Waukesha County Clerk's office.
After Nickolaus was criticized for not posting results online in last spring's state Supreme Court race, in which the entire City of Brookfield votes were left out of the county's total results on election night. The error flipped the winner in the razor-thin election from Kloppenburg, who had declared victory, to Prosser.
Had Nickolaus posted results online, someone would have caught the zeros for the City of Brookfield in the countywide total, some critics said.