Justice David Prosser may have just gone over the top as 14,000-plus votes were added to the Waukesha County totals.
The numbers reported to the Associated Press on Tuesday night were missing 14,315 votes cast in the City of Brookfield due to a human error in the Waukesha County Clerks office.
The numbers reported on election night are unofficial and not verified until all of the 3,630 wards statewide have canvassed the ballots.
Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said a mistake was made when the votes were forwarded from Brookfield to the county. The county collects and reports vote totals to the press and the Government Accountability Board for all races that are county- or state-wide.
Nickolaus said a spreadsheet noting the totals from Brookfield was not saved and transferred to the final report given to the media. She said the vote discrepancy was found when the vote canvass began on Wednesday.
She explained that during the canvass, workers compare the vote tapes (from voting machines) to the vote totals on the spreadsheets. It was immediately discovered there was a problem with the totals shown on the spreadsheets and what was showing on the tapes.
“I noticed the discrepancy and just thankful that if was caught during the canvass,” Nickolaus said. “That is the purpose of the canvass. This is not the case of extra ballots being found. This is human error which I apologize for, but it is common in this process. Every person that voted in Waukesha County had their votes counted. We are confident they have been properly reported to the GAB.”
In addition to the unsaved votes in the City of Brookfield, Nickolaus announced two other discrepencies that occurred in the county. First in New Berlin, a single ward was reported as casting 37 votes for Prosser. But during the canvass, it was discovered that the vote tape had 237 votes recorded for Prosser, adding to his overall total.
Second, in the Town of Lisbon, a typing error resulted in a change to the vote totals for both candidates. Nickolaus said both Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg lost votes in that community.
Figures released by Nickolaus showed prior to the canvass 110,587 votes were cast in Waukesha County – 81,255 for Prosser, 29,332 for Kloppenburg. After the canvas the vote total increased to 125,070 votes, with Prosser receiving 92,263 and Kloppenburg receiveing 32,758. That is a net gain of 11,008 votes for the incumbent justice and a gain of 3,426 for Kloppenburg.
This well exceeds the 204 vote lead Kloppenburg had when she declared victory Wednesday afternoon, moving Prosser into the lead with a 7,400 vote margin. However, again those numbers are unofficial until the GAB certifies them.
The Waukesha County Canvass Board consists of members from each political party, as is required across the state. The Democratic representative on the board is Ramona Kitzinger, the vice-chair of the party. She said the canvass was done properly and all the vote numbers jive, so she is satisfied with the results and won’t be challenging anything.
Nickolaus added that the lack of Brookfield’s votes didn’t register with her by the numbers, because the voter turnout for Tuesday’s election was well above the typical spring turnout.
“We typically get a 30 percent turnout, on Tuesday we showed 42 percent, so I had no reason to believe something was amiss,” Nickolaus said. She added with the new totals Waukesha County has a 47% voter turnout, something she was very proud of.
In Winnebago County, the cities of Neenah andMenasha discovered 1,200 votes that were not counted or forwarded to the county. This was discovered before that county began its vote canvass. The county clerk said she was not happy about the discovery, but glad it occurred before the canvass was complete.
In addition, small changes in favor or not for each candidate have been occurring throughout the day as canvasses are being completed.
The latest unofficial totals in the Supreme Court race are Prosser 750,894; Kloppenburg 743,516 votes.