FRIDAY HOT READ: THE TURNAROUND
Still buzzing about the remarkable developments in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. A reminder, why we call them "unofficial," results. Stephen Hayes reports for the Weekly Standard:
Supreme Court justice David Prosser has picked up more than 7,381 votes in Waukesha County, a conservative county outside of Milwaukee, as part of the statewide canvass following the election for Supreme Court on Tuesday. The total gives Prosser a comfortable lead as the canvass continues Friday.
The error came when Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus failed to save some 14,000 votes that came from wards in Brookfield before passing the vote total along to the Associated Press. County officials discovered the mistake Wednesday and shared the information with state election officials on Thursday. Prosser won Waukesha County with more than 70 percent of the vote there.
Wisconsin sources say that the paper trail on the votes will be obvious and difficult for anyone to dispute. Either votes from Brookfield were counted in the initial tally or they weren’t. Still, the discovery of the extra votes is sure to stoke the embers of the heated battles that have taken place across the state over the past two months, particularly because Nickolaus, the woman at the center of the controversy, is a Republican activist. A posting on the website of the Republican Women of Waukesha County indicates that Kathy Nickolaus recently served as president of that group
The sudden, shocking addition of more than 14,000 votes to Waukesha County's April 5 election turnout puts that county's turnout rate more in line with the neighboring GOP strongholds of Ozaukee and Washington counties.
Before the big adjustment, Waukesha County's vote total was just under 111,000. That is equal to 37.4% of the county's voting-age population of 296,081 people in the 2010 census.
After the big adjustment, Waukesha's vote total was roughly 125,000 votes. That is equal to 42.2% of the county's voting-age population.
By comparison, Ozaukee County's turnout was 44.1% of voting-age adults Tuesday, and Washington County's turnout was 40.9%.
The county with the highest turnout rate in the state on Tuesday was Dane County, at 47.7%. The statewide turnout was roughly 34%.
Before the adjustment, Waukesha would have registered by far the biggest decrease in turnout of any county in the state between last fall's governor's race and this spring's court race - almost 26 points, from 63% to 37%. The statewide drop in turnout between those two elections was about 16 points.
After the adjustment, Waukesha's drop-off in turnout is still among the biggest - around 21 points - but it is not nearly as much of an outlier. Ozaukee County had a slightly higher drop-off in turnout, almost 22 points. Washington County had a drop-off in turnout of a little more than 18 points. These turnout estimates are based on the voting-age population in each county in the 2010 census, and the total votes cast for governor in 2010 and for state Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Without the adjustment, Waukesha would have ranked 12th among 72 counties in turnout rate Tuesday.
With the addition of the 14,000 votes, it ranks fifth, after Dane, Bayfield, Ozaukee and Door, and just ahead of Washington.