"Drum roll, please."
Those were the words uttered as elections consultant Barb Hansen read aloud the vote tally for the final polling ward for the City of Brookfield.
And with that, at 6:19 p.m. Saturday, volunteer tabulators finished the meticulous three-day hand recount of the more than 14,000 votes cast by City of Brookfield voters for the state Supreme Court race on April 5.
Its finish is just the beginning for the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers, who still have about 70% of the county's votes to recount, after 10 days of work including two consecutive Saturdays. That's in stark contrast to 67 other counties that have finished their recounts, and the four others that expect to be complete by Monday, leaving Waukesha alone in the spotlight.
But it was a milestone for tabulators because much scrutiny has been on the City of Brookfield's votes ever since Waukesha County two days after the election to announce a stunner: that in the razor-thin high court race in which Assistant State Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg had declared victory with a 200-vote margin out of 1.5 million cast, an entire city's votes had not been included in the statewide tally.
A city with 14,315 votes, about 76 percent of which went to the other candidate, the conservative incumbent, Justice David Prosser Jr.
The sudden "discovery" of votes that had not been previously reported — coming from one of the most conservative municipalities in one of the most conservative counties — had many crying foul. The votes, however, had been reported in a detailed ward-by-ward breakdown in a Brookfield Patch story .
But after the three-day hand recount, the city's votes were for the most part upheld as accurate. The recount netted three additional votes for Prosser and one additional vote for Kloppenburg, for a final city margin of 10,862 to 3,457, according to Ellen Nowak, chief of staff for Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas.
The city's recount was not without disputes and controversy. It is yet unclear whether Kloppenburg will challenge any of the votes in court, such as more the more than 1,500 votes cast in the high court race by voters in the city's Wards 1, 2 and 3.
Those ballots were inside post-election and found partially open during the recount. Kloppenburg campaign representatives objected to the bags being opened and votes counted due to questions about the ballots' security and potential tampering.
But retired Waukesha County Circuit Judge Robert Mawdsley, appointed to oversee the recount in lieu of Nickolaus, allowed their recount, saying it would be up another court to decide, should it be challenged in court.
On Monday morning, Waukesha County Corporation Counsel Tom Farley will explain why more time is needed as the state Government Accountability Board asks a Dane County judge to extend the May 9 deadline for finishing the historic statewide recount.
And back in Waukesha, the recount will move to the cafeteria in the Administration Building, a much larger room than the first-floor conference room where it has been held since April 27. Double the number of tabulators will be on hand to try to speed up the county's recount, while still undergoing a more detailed process than many counties, recorded for posterity by a court reporter hired by the county.