Democratic Party Chair Calls on Clerk to Resign
Waukesha County Democratic Party Chairman Victor Weers on Tuesday said County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus should resign immediately due to her lack of transparency, accuracy on election reporting.
The Waukesha County Democratic Party on Tuesday called on Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus to resign, saying she has failed to be transparent and trustworthy in her handling of election results.
Nickolaus' office staff said she plans a response this afternoon but did not know when or how that response will be delivered. It is also unknown the content of Nickolaus' response.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the party's chairman Victor Weers said Nickolaus had "willfully ignored pleas to repair her broken reporting process in an open and technologically reliable way.
"Reporting of votes must be as transparent and secure as possible so that the public feels good that their vote will count," Weers said. "Ms. Nickolaus has consistently ignored this environment."
Weers called a 7,500 vote-change in the county's totals for the state Supreme Court race a "debacle" that "severely diminished" the public's confidence in election results.
"We must have a county clerk that we can trust to do this important work of the people with competence, security and openness," Weer wrote. "Waukesha must have a new county clerk now."
Nickolaus, who at a press conference Thursday offered a tearful apology of her election night reporting error, was not available for comment Tuesday morning. But an employee in her office said Nickolaus planned to respond later Tuesday.
Weers' call for Nickolaus' resignation came a day after a statement was issued by Ramona Kitzinger, the Democratic member of the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers, who at the press conference said the county's revised numbers "jibed."
Kitzinger's statement on Monday she said felt misled by the county clerk about the cause and impact of the Brookfield votes recorded in the state Supreme Court race.
"In retrospect, it seems both shocking and somewhat appalling there was no mention of discovery of this 15,000 'human error' that ultimately had the potential to tip the balance of an entire statewide election," Kitzinger said in a statement. "How is this possible?"
Kitzinger did not return a call for comment. Weers, who lives in Brookfield, confirmed the statement posted on the Democratic party's web site was indeed from Kitzinger.
Kitzinger said it was not until after the revised vote tallies were certified — adding 14,315 votes for Brookfield — and just before a press conference, that Nickolaus told her that she had failed to include the Brookfield votes in her election night tally released to AP.
Kitzinger said shortly before the press conference, Nickolaus "showed us different tapes where numbers seemed to add up, though I have no idea where the numbers were coming from. I was not told of the magnitude of this error, just that she had made one. I was then instructed that I would not say anything at the press conference, and was actually surprised when I was asked questions by reporters."
Kitzinger's statement continued:
"The reason I offer this explanation is that, with the enormous amount of attention this has received over the weekend, many people are offering my statements at the press conference that the 'numbers jibed' as validation they are correct and I can vouch for their accuracy.
"As I told Kathy when I was called into the room — I am 80 years old and I don’t understand anything about computers. I don’t know where the numbers Kathy was showing me ultimately came from, but they seemed to add up.
"I am still very, very confused about why the canvass was finalized before I was informed of the Brookfield error and it wasn’t even until the press conference was happening that I learned it was this enormous mistake that could swing the whole election.
"I was never shown anything that would verify Kathy’s statement about the missing vote, and with how events unfolded and people citing me as an authority on this now, I feel like I must speak up."
Kitzinger also said in her statement that the canvass typically is held at 9 a.m. on Thursday — two days after the election. But she said she received a voice message from someone in the county clerk's office on Tuesday night, election night, notifying her the canvass would start on Wednesday.
Nickolaus has said that she discovered on Wednesday that she had failed to include any City of Brookfield votes in her election night tally released to AP. Brookfield Patch had obtained the city's votes for Supreme Court from the city clerk on election night and posted them in a story and chart about four hours after the polls closed.
But Nickolaus did not notify the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees statewide elections, the Supreme Court candidates, or the City of Brookfield city clerk.
Kitzinger said in her statement that Nickolaus also did not say anything to the Board of Canvassers until the board reviewed Brookfield's vote tally on Thursday.
At the press conference, Kitzinger told the media she had no objections to the revised results.
"We went over everything and made sure all the numbers jibed up and they did," Kitzinger said at the press conference.
Adding the city's 14,315 votes gave incumbent Justice David Prosser a net gain of about 7,500 votes — enough to likely make him the election winner. Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg had declared victory on election night, with a 200-vote margin over Prosser.
State elections officials were reviewing the Waukesha County canvass due to the large change in result and impact on state Supreme Court race.