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In the past 24 hours or so there have been, oh, a few diaries about the electoral reversal of fortune in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Like many posters here, I have seen nothing that leads me to believe that there was foul play in Waukesha County. ("Nothing to see here, move along" comments begin in 4... 3....) That doesn't mean that I'm sure that there wasn't -- and it certainly doesn't mean that I think Kathy Nickolaus and her Access database did a great job. Based on the evidence I've seen so far, however, it appears at least strongly plausible that the Waukesha County canvassing board corrected an egregious error in the unofficial returns.

That raises some excellent questions: (1) How could the error happen in the first place? (2) How could we possibly know what really happened -- how people actually voted? (3) What are the implications for election verification, not just in Wisconsin but around the country?

In this diary, I will discuss my present understanding of Waukesha, but the main point is to think beyond the present controversy to broader systemic issues.

A good place to start is with this Journal-Sentinel article. Some points:

  • Where did the votes come from? According to county clerk Nickolaus -- and corroborated by the Democratic member of the canvass board -- the election night totals she provided to the media omitted the votes from Brookfield city. Nickolaus had Brookfield's vote report, but for reasons she does not entirely understand, it was not included in the totals. (Smaller discrepancies occurred in two other places.)
  • "Unofficial" means unofficial. I am not an expert in Wisconsin election law (feel free to dive in with me, here, especially chapters 5 and 7), but as far as I can tell, counties report election-night totals strictly as a courtesy to the media. It is the official canvass that they really have to get right.
  • The county canvass is detailed. Under Wisconsin statute 7.60 (4)(c) [see link above], the county canvass board is supposed to check the tally tapes and inspector reports, then report how many votes each candidate received in each "election district, ward or combination of wards." So, the canvass would be a good place to discover that returns from an entire city were omitted from the unofficial totals.
  • Wisconsin elections have paper trails. Most Wisconsin voters use hand-marked paper ballots with optical scanners. Some Wisconsin counties also provide touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic machines, to satisfy the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act. (Those machines do provide a voter-verifiable "paper trail," which is not a great solution.) Inspectors also issue each voter a serial number, written on the poll list, which can be used to check the turnout at each polling place.
  • These paper trails aren't necessarily used very well. As I understand it, a recount in Wisconsin ordinarily is a machine recount: the ballots are fed back through the scanners. Even though statute 7.50 provides standards for establishing voter intent, the scanners are not familiar with its provisions. There is a vague legal requirement for the Government Accountability Board, after general elections, to "audit the performance of each voting system used in this state to determine the error rate of the system in counting ballots that are validly cast by electors" (7.08 (6)). I'm not at all familiar with all the provisions in WI law for contesting elections, but if it were up to me, I would change these laws regardless.

As far as I can tell, Nickolaus's story seems to make sense. (The least coherent part is how the uploaded Brookfield data failed to end up in her database. She could be fudging on the details, or she may honestly not know exactly what happened.) The Brookfield city clerk reported the city results on election night, and apparently the same totals are reflected in the county canvass. As Nate Silver and Craig Gilbert have pointed out, the unofficial figures actually give Waukesha County surprisingly low turnout compared with other similar counties. There might be a good fraud scenario that connects these dots, but I haven't seen anyone present one yet. (It has been suggested that Brookfield was some sort of decoy, but it isn't obvious to me how attracting nationwide attention was a masterstroke of misdirection -- unless, perhaps, the election was actually stolen in some other county, which doesn't seem to be the prevailing idea.)

But how do we know what happened -- or, perhaps better, how could we know what happened? Here are some of the crucial criteria, in Waukesha County and elsewhere.

  • Paper, paper, paper. Paper ballots aren't perfect, but most voters can see how their votes are recorded on the ballots -- whereas they cannot verify whether or how a Direct Recording Electronic machine has recorded their votes. (There are some proposed workarounds, which I won't discuss here.) Many voters are stuck voting on paperless DREs. Others use DREs with some sort of voter-verifiable paper trail; these paper trails tend to be much less verifiable and durable than paper ballots. See Verified Voting for details on who uses what. The tally printouts, poll lists and other written documents from polling places provide another important "paper trail."
  • Security and speed. A paper trail may be worse than useless if it can be corrupted before it is checked. Careful security measures provide one mitigation; I have seen little if any information about Waukesha County's chain of custody provisions. Expeditious processes are also an important mitigation. The canvass board began reviewing the records on Wednesday, limiting the opportunity to do whatever one imagines might have been done to them.
  • Provide detailed data early. How does someone manage to supply totals that exclude an entire city? By not looking at subtotals. If Waukesha County had a policy of publishing unofficial results at the election district or even municipality level, probably this mistake never would have happened -- and if it had, it would have been detected and understood very quickly. Minnesota publishes precinct-level results for the entire state in close to real time. It's a great model. As the Coleman/Franken recount underscored, even when the unofficial totals turn out to be wrong, having posted the details can provide a basis for public confidence that the corrected totals are in fact correct.
  • Use the paper: good audit and recount policies. A paper trail doesn't do much good if it is practically inaccessible. I favor routine, rigorous audits to check that votes have been counted substantially correctly, combined with easy recourse to count ballots and inspect other records in particular places where the results seem questionable. In general, closer election contests deserve more extensive auditing. The closest election contests deserve 100% hand recounts. (Some folks would like to see 100% hand counts for all election contests -- and some places do use 100% hand counts, although I don't really expect that practice to spread widely.)

These are simple ideas, but they are hard to get right. Wisconsin does seem to have at least enough of them right that the upcoming investigation in Waukesha County has some prospect of clarifying what did and didn't go wrong there. But Wisconsin, and every other state I can think of, could implement election verification a lot better. (Every state could also do much worse, and may yet -- internet voting, anyone?) So, if we're interested in getting elections right, we should be busy for a while.

Originally posted to HudsonValleyMark on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 06:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips for evidence-based elections (29+ / 0-)

    It's kind of fun to have raging arguments about election fraud every several months, but all in all, I think it would be better just to figure out who won. :) Why aren't we doing that instead? It's harder, doh.

    •  Because with fraud, the "wrong" person wins? (7+ / 0-)

      With the problems in 2000 and 2004, I personally don't understand how people aren't concerned when a critical race changes two days after the election.

      Oh yeah, I had plenty of scoffing debunkers in 2000 and 2004.  Knowing that I'm right today doesn't make me any happier.  I would rather people had been more skeptical at the time.

      Which side are you on?

      by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:42:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you seem to be missing the point (6+ / 0-)

        A cursory glance at DKos confirms that lots of people are concerned that the result changed.

        I'm not going to pretend to think that the election was stolen, for reasons I've explained. But the object is to improve the election systems so that we have less to argue about. In WI, is there enough evidence available to convince reasonable people of who won? If not, why not? Bickering about an unofficial result ought to be beside the point.

        •  The problem seems to me to be when people (9+ / 0-)

          ask for a threshold of obvious wrongdoing before beginning to question results, when in fact it's the questioning of results that leads to the uncovering of the evidence of wrongdoing.  I just don't want to back off too soon.  In 2000 and 2004 Dems were convinced to back off too soon, partially through being ridiculed as CT'ers.  How about we save CT accusations for things that are really outliers?  Election fraud isn't so unusual as to be an outlier.

          As for WI, the clerk has such a bad reputation she has no credibility, and thus any mistake she makes, however innocuous, will inevitably be seen as partisan tampering.  This skepticism isn't bad - it enforces political integrity.  She shouldn't have won election after skating away from a criminal indictment. Now her whole county will learn a hard lesson after being dragged through the mud with her.

          Which side are you on?

          by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:05:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I missed this earlier (0+ / 0-)

            I think a lot of this is simply factually incorrect. Again, there have been people questioning the results all along. I have yet to see a post at Daily Kos that says, "You are wrong to question the results of the Wisconsin election. You should abandon your skepticism."

            In 2000 and 2004 Dems were convinced to back off too soon, partially through being ridiculed as CT'ers.

            I don't think that happened. I don't think any of the arguments over what was or wasn't CT had any effect on the election outcomes.

            I have never seen anyone argue that a theory about election fraud is inherently CT in the pejorative sense. But millions of Americans think that ACORN stole the presidential election for Obama, and I would be willing to call that CT. Does that seem crazy to you? If not, then would it seem crazy if I say that election fraud CT exists on the Democratic/left side, too?

            I agree that skepticism can reinforce political integrity. I don't know that claiming to know that Wisconsin was stolen* really counts as skepticism; whether it helps to lead to better outcomes remains to be seen. Will making an example of a Wisconsin county clerk help to improve future elections? How? Suppose that she made an honest mistake. Will pillorying her spur other election officials to new heights of accuracy, or will it encourage them to be as secretive as possible -- or both? I can't tell. I would rather focus on systemic solutions.

            *I'm not attributing this position to you, but I could point you to a bunch of examples.

            •  Please clarify what is "factually incorrect" in (0+ / 0-)

              what I said.  I was shouted down in 2000 and especially in 2004 as a conspiracy theorist for saying that the election must have been stolen because of the exit poll data, which was all we had to go on at first.  So that actually happened and is not factually incorrect.

              People do seem to want to see a certain level of obvious wrongdoing before being willing to say, oh that's a problem, and instead counsel more vigilant people to calm down, be fair, be reasonable, etc. I don't it's factually incorrect to say that happens.  

              I think it is factually incorrect to expect wrongdoing to be obvious - you almost always have to dig for it and piece it together.  But the naysaying discourages people from digging deeper.

              The clerk's bad reputation tainting her actions, I also don't agree that's anything but the bald truth of the matter.

              I would also like to know where people have said this election was stolen without any evidence whatsoever.  Because legally any fact that tends to support one side over the other is evidence.  Thus, the fortuitous timing is itself evidence.  The clerks shady history is itself evidence.  Very little evidence, sure.  Not enough to prosecute, sure.  But enough to look harder.

              When people say oh CT, CT, look at the kooks, they stop that further inquiry, not only in themselves, but in others who care too much about what someone online says about them.  I found a self-congratulatory tone in some of these mocking comments that would have put off a more sensitive soul.  After seeing my past warnings about election problems disregarded by people either in an abundance of caution or in rational denial, I have resolved to press the issue politely when and where I see it happening.

              Which side are you on?

              by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:35:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  an interesting case in point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jake Johnson, rhubarb
                I was shouted down in 2000 and especially in 2004 as a conspiracy theorist for saying that the election must have been stolen because of the exit poll data

                I haven't gone back to see what you actually posted, but based on your own account, you were flat-out wrong. It was rash to infer from the exit poll data that "the election must have been stolen." When people infer things from insufficient data, they are often termed conspiracy theorists. It may not be nice, but it is less wrong than claiming that "the election must have been stolen" was.

                I do not especially admire people who make unsubstantiated claims about election fraud; I fear that on balance, they do more to divert attention from election integrity concerns than to attract it. Whether or not that is true, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask people to distinguish among what they know, what they believe, what they suspect, and what they guess. I don't see how that "discourages people from digging deeper." In fact, I don't see how people can dig deeply into anything if we can't make those distinctions.

                •  Are you willing to look a little deeper? (0+ / 0-)

                  I was "flat-out wrong" and "rash" to infer from the exit poll data that the election had been stolen.  The exit poll data is "insufficient data".  I made "unsubstantiated claims". These are opinion statements - yours. Cite your authority, please.  On what basis do you say I'm "flat out wrong"?  How am I rash?  I had a reason, didn't I?  Up until 2004, it was considered a good one.

                  Exit polls have been used around the world since the 1960s to guarantee free elections.  Other countries use them to verify the accuracy of their elections, like those flaky non-methodical Germans.  They were used to overturn an election as corrupt in Ukraine - so they didn't think exit polls were rash, did they? Prior to 2004 the accuracy of exit polls had never been seriously questioned.  The anomalous results during the 2004 election held true the whole day, they weren't just early blips.  Most importantly, the discrepancies in 10 of eleven battleground states favored Bush.

                  There is a book out on the exit poll data by a Penn research scholar named Steven Freeman, published in 2006.  He has a PhD from Sloan/MIT.  He wasn't the only one perturbed by the discrepancies in the exit polls and the result.  The president of the American Statistical Association was another.   There is a mathematician at Temple, John Poulos, who has been used as a statistics expert.  There are a large number of sociologists, statisticians, political scientists, etc. who have weighed in on this.  There's Robert Kennedy Jr.  If you have expert authority that credibly contradicts all of these people, please elaborate.  

                  I have been tested as a systems thinker - so I see and reason holistically.  I think a lot of the people who have problems with the ability to see outliers and their potential relationships to the whole are linear thinkers who look at the world in a cause and effect way, and who can't get to the outlier without a lot of contortions.  They don't know about sinks and flows and feedback loops and how a tiny little blip way over here can cause a seemingly ridiculous reaction way over there.

                  Which side are you on?

                  by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 08:27:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yo, I've been studying this election for six years (0+ / 0-)

                    You will have to work pretty hard to outdig me.

                    Prior to 2004 the accuracy of exit polls had never been seriously questioned.

                    You have been misinformed. On the contrary, it is well documented that the 1992 exit polls were almost as discrepant as the 2004 exit polls. I'm sorry to say that very much of what Steve Freeman wrote was either misleading or simply wrong. Freeman appointed himself an expert after the 2004 election, but he really had no basis for it (what is his PhD in? do you know off-hand?) -- which would be fine if he got things right, which he didn't.

                    All of these arguments have been rebutted, repeatedly, right here on Daily Kos. Where were you? I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. OK, maybe not quite.

                    Maybe reading Mark Blumenthal's four-part rebuttal of RFK Jr. would help. It starts here.

                  •  OK, continuing... (0+ / 0-)

                    Look, if you think you can defend the claim -- in your words -- "that the election must have been stolen because of the exit poll data," then go for it. In the meantime, your claim is unsubstantiated by definition; you haven't lifted a finger to support it. I don't construe that as holistic reasoning. Would you, if our positions were reversed?

                    Did Poulos ever assert that the election must have been stolen because of the exit poll data? Hell, did Freeman himself ever assert that? Obviously you may have come up with a reason that they didn't, but what is it?

                    Exit polls have been used around the world since the 1960s to guarantee free elections.

                    Really? The first exit poll was conducted when? The assertions about exit polls in international election verification aren't entirely wrong, but many of them are distinctly exaggerated.
                    Other countries use them to verify the accuracy of their elections, like those flaky non-methodical Germans.

                    Really? Can you direct me to a German source that supports that claim? Thom Hartmann's reminiscences of childhood emphatically do not count.
                    They were used to overturn an election as corrupt in Ukraine...

                    Really? In what sense were exit polls used to overturn the result in Ukraine?
                    Prior to 2004 the accuracy of exit polls had never been seriously questioned.

                    False, as I noted before.
                    The anomalous results during the 2004 election held true the whole day, they weren't just early blips.

                    True. Some folks early on had the wrong information about that -- and, mistakes being mistakes, probably some still do.
                    Most importantly, the discrepancies in 10 of eleven battleground states favored Bush.

                    Most importantly for what? What hypothesis does that finding bear upon?
                    [Freeman] wasn't the only one perturbed by the discrepancies in the exit polls and the result.

                    Who said anything about being "perturbed"? I've never faulted anyone for being perturbed about the exit poll discrepancies.  
                    There are a large number of sociologists, statisticians, political scientists, etc. who have weighed in on this.

                    Would I be correct in guessing that you are not a sociologist, statistician, or political scientist?

                    A large number of biologists have weighed in on creationism -- and some of them even endorse it. But anyone who sets out to learn what biologists think about creationism would be hard-pressed to conclude that it represents the scientific consensus, or even a major strand of opinion.

                    If RFK Jr. gave you the impression that sociologists, statisticians, and/or political scientists in general see the exit polls as strong evidence that Kerry won, shame on him. If you want to generalize about the opinions of people in those disciplines with zero supporting evidence, well... could you direct me to the peer-reviewed articles that make that case?

                    Again, I don't think appeals to authority should decide the issue -- certainly not appeals to the authority of Robert F. "Deadly Immunity" Kennedy Jr. I've checked some of his use of sources, and I've found appalling things.

                    I have been tested as a systems thinker - so I see and reason holistically.  I think a lot of the people who have problems with the ability to see outliers and their potential relationships to the whole are linear thinkers who look at the world in a cause and effect way, and who can't get to the outlier without a lot of contortions.

                    I think a lot of people who talk about "outliers" with respect to election issues don't know enough about elections to know what counts as an outlier. The mythological "Connally anomaly" is an excellent example. The meme of exit poll accuracy is another. (If we had been talking in October 2004, and I had asked you what you thought of exit polls, would you have said any of the things that you wrote in your comment? Which ones? [Obviously Ukraine is off the table! :) ])

                    You may be an excellent systems thinker, but unless that means that whatever you believe automatically warrants credulity, you'll have to give the rest of us something more to work with. The hypothesis that election fraud accounts for the exit poll discrepancies isn't exactly beyond the ken of linear cause-and-effect reasoning. The question is whether it is supported by evidence. There are some pretty straightforward reasons for doubting it. Perhaps the most accessible is that the discrepant exit poll results tend not to make much sense. For instance, I don't know of anyone who expected Kerry to win by double-digits in Minnesota, New Hampshire, or Pennsylvania, much less all three.

                    There is absolutely nothing wrong with wondering whether the exit poll results provided some evidence of massive miscounts -- and that is why I participated in U.S. Count Votes, back before I realized that their findings were largely predetermined. But at some point it's time to look around and say, "Whoa, that doesn't seem to work. Maybe we should focus on election verification measures that have to do with actual votes."

                    •  You have missed my point repeatedly (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Jay

                      In virtually every comment, I have pointed to evidence that suggests, not proves, elections are stolen. I have said people back off looking harder because they refuse to take those warning signs seriously.  The thought of a stolen election is so troubling they seize every argument they can to deny that it could have happened.  So they back off where I would forge ahead.  That is the difference between me and them.

                      In DOJ election fraud cases under the Voting Rights Act, they use statistics to prove the fraud occurred, because it is impossible to prove it the way debunkers would have it proved.  There is never the tampered machine, there is never the ring of conspirators caught on video, there is never the physical evidence sought so fervently by those obsessed with tangibleness.  They do it with statistics, and that's why African Americans can win elections in the South now.

                      So you can't say there is no evidence.  There might be insufficient evidence.  There might be inconclusive evidence.  There might be disputed evidence.  But there IS evidence, and if the 2004 race had been about racial discrimination, we'd have a different ball game, because people familiar with how election fraud is actually proven would be in charge of the investigation.

                      Which side are you on?

                      by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 01:24:11 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  yikes (0+ / 0-)

                        Several of your points are factually incorrect. I don't think it is unreasonable to note that.

                        I have said people back off looking harder because they refuse to take those warning signs seriously.

                        "People" do that? Sorry, but this looks like armchair psychoanalysis in lieu of substantive argument. It seems clear that you are out of your field, so you literally have no idea how hard lots of smart people have looked.

                        If you have the chops to address any of the arguments that I and other people have actually made, please do. Lecturing me on the nature of statistical evidence is really laughably off point if you don't have any -- and your knowledge of the stats seems to stop at "the exit polls really were discrepant," which no one contests.

                      •  and, by the way... (0+ / 0-)

                        If you want to back off your own words, "that the election must have been stolen because of the exit poll data," I'm happy to let you do that, provided that you actually do it.

                        What a lot of us are heartily sick of is what I sometimes darkly call the Fraudster Two-Step:

                        A: "The evidence proves that the election was stolen!"
                        B: "Umm, no."
                        A: "Why are you trying to shut down questioning?!"

                        Do you see what I mean?
                        •  These cases are proven statistically. (0+ / 0-)

                          The initial statistics are troubling to some, not to others.  The cases never get investigated thoroughly because...who knows.  As you pointed out, one can never know another's motivations - any guesses there truly are speculative.

                          Enough doubt remains in these cases so that public opinion remains divided.  People get tired of arguing and move on and we never know the answer.  Perhaps the problem is as simple as anything that increases doubt in a case of suspected election fraud adds to the probability that there will never be an investigation.  

                          This has been an enlightening discussion.  Thank you for your time.

                          Which side are you on?

                          by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 05:09:06 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

  •  You make a lot of sense, (11+ / 0-)

    And it does sound a lot like she was just inept, distracted, or dumb...The fact that this has happened before in her County, with her behind the wheel (computer screen?) just makes it so easy to see a conspiracy. And I would love to see Kloppenburg end up the winner...{{{{sigh}}}}

    "What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death." - Eugene Victor Debs

    by DianeNYS on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 07:54:50 PM PDT

    •  she looks awful, yes (10+ / 0-)

      This is one of the reasons I keep lobbying for more information sooner. It's human nature that if we don't have much information about the election, we're going to leverage whatever information we have about the people involved. And, of course, the timing is just facially suspicious.

      (That's how a lot of Republicans felt about some of the changes in the Coleman/Franken election immediately after the election [even before the recount] -- but it was pretty obvious from the available information that weird results had been changed to believable results. That seems to be true in Waukesha as well, but since we can't see all the data, we don't know.)

  •  Incompetence and Sabatage (15+ / 0-)

    are like identical twins--hard to tell apart:

    County Clerk kathy Nickolaus
    a former Republican staff member
    avoided prosecution in a 2002 corruption probe
    by agreeing to testify against
    members of the assembly Republican Caucus.
    She then resigned from that Republican Caucus.

    She worked for 13 years as a data analyst
    and computer specialist for the caucus.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/...
    Aug. 18, 2010

    Waukesha - The County Board's Executive Committee
    has ordered an audit of the county clerk...
    The issue came to a head when
    Nickolaus removed the election results
    collection and tallying system from
    the county computer network this spring and
    installed it on stand alone personal computers
    in her office...

    Director of Administration Norman A. Cummings
    said Nickolaus has been uncooperative
    with attempts to have information technologists
    review the system and confirm the backups.

    http://www.jsonline.com/...

    Nickolaus..a data analyst and computer
    specialist for the Assembly Republican caucus,
    ....
    During some of that time, Prosser served
    as Assembly Speaker, meaning he was essentially her boss.
    ....

    "This raises so many questions," said Assembly Minority
    Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.  Barca said
    he was shocked Nickolaus waited 24 hours to tell
    people about the error.

    A Democratic canvass observer said
    Nickolaus gave no indication anything was unusual
    when she arrived at about 9 a.m. Thursday morning, and [ the canvass observer ] didn't find out about the error until
    the news conference that evening.

    "There was no mention of Brookfield,"
    volunteer canvass observer Nora Wilson said.

    http://host.madison.com/...

    The Year was 2006, and in Waukesha County...

    by Patience JohnFollow

    Waukesha - Computer glitches, inoperable equipment and
    other problems troubled Tuesday's primary balloting
    in Waukesha County, resulting in one candidate
    mistakenly being posted as winner of a race
    only later to be declared the loser.
    Final results later showed Lufter losing to
    fellow Republican Bill Kramer by a significant margin...

    County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said some returns
    from the City of Waukesha inexplicably had data
    recorded in the wrong column, which momentarily skewed results.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    A choice of words is a choice of worlds

    by Jay on Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 08:04:02 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, all the stuff you presented (5+ / 0-)

      Has already been hashed over and debunked.

      Her previous suspicious behavior doesn't mean that anything nefarious happened here.

      And the evidence we have shows us that nothing nefarious happened here. The Brookfield city clerk reported the same number to the local media on Tuesday night that she reported to the county clerk on Tuesday night (twice) and to the county canvassing board again on Wednesday.

      As the diarist explained in the very first paragraphs, the results given to the media on election night aren't official results, and claiming that errors there show us much besides the fact that humans make errors and so there's good reason to have canvassing boards check the result!

      And this

      A Democratic canvass observer said
      Nickolaus gave no indication anything was unusual
      when she arrived at about 9 a.m. Thursday morning, and [ the canvass observer ] didn't find out about the error until
      the news conference that evening.

      "There was no mention of Brookfield,"
      volunteer canvass observer Nora Wilson said.

      Irrelevant nonsense, again, already debunked. That person was not an official involved in the canvass. She was simply there, watching the event happen. The county canvassing board knew about the large discrepency early on - Nickolaus noticed the ZERO in the field for Brookfield right away. They noticed other errors during the canvassing process, and announced all of them to the public in the press conference. They didn't tell the volunteer observer, nor did they tell the Brookfield city clerk, nor did they tell a state election official as early as he would have liked. But the canvassing board knew from noon on Wednesday onward. And, they told the two campaigns at some point in time before the press conference that something was up, but didn't give them full details.

      So, I think she decided that until the entire election results were verified, she wouldn't tell anyone who didn't need to know. That list of don't need to know would have included a volunteer observer.

      And this

      During some of that time, Prosser served
      as Assembly Speaker, meaning he was essentially her boss.

      Not true. He was not her boss. He was her boss' boss, and they had no substantive contact according to her actual boss.

      Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said in an email Friday that Nickolaus started working for the Legislature on March 6, 1989.

      On Feb. 20, 1995, she started work with the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups that were shut down after a criminal investigation into state staffers doing campaign work on state time.

      Prosser served as Assembly speaker in 1995 and 1996, giving him oversight of the GOP caucus in that house.

      Nickolaus left the Assembly GOP caucus in December 2001, shortly before it was dissolved. She then worked in the office of the Assembly chief clerk - before Fuller's tenure - until May 2002, when she resigned.

      Ray Carey, now a Madison attorney and lobbyist, was hired by Prosser to serve as director of the Assembly GOP caucus in January 1995. Carey said he hired Nickolaus shortly after that without input from Prosser. "It was my call. My decision," he said.

      Carey said that Nickolaus did computer and data management work, performing such tasks as making maps, and that he never saw her have "any significant interaction" with Prosser.

      Prosser said he does know the Waukesha County clerk, having "met her a number of times in the last few months."

      "Did she ever work for me? If she ever worked for me I don't remember. I can't say it didn't happen, but I don't remember," Prosser said.

      •  good morning, Dolly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DollyMadison

        Thanks for the great information. (It all looks solid, as far as I can see -- I haven't waded into the "boss" stuff, because it just isn't relevant from my standpoint.)

        I don't know how much "action" this diary will get, but I hope it doesn't degenerate into just another election fraud flame war. Please try to be gentle!

      •  thank you (0+ / 0-)

        for confirming my statement that Incompetence and Sabotage are identical twins.  I accept your apology.

        I noticed you also provided an additional source  showing Supreme Court Candidate Prosser once had "oversight" of  Nickolaus while they both worked for the Republican caucus in 1995 before she avoided the FBI corruption investigation, of campaign illegalities, by resigning.

        Regarding your statement that the
        Official Election Observer Ramona Kitzinger
        "didn't need to know" that Nickolaus had changed the outcome of the Election, some people might call such dishonesty...Nefarious or even Foul Play.  But at minimum it is incompetence.  

        transcript of election observer Kitzingers full statement
         on the matter : http://kochwatch.org/...

        If in fact it was a diversion for fraud in another county we have no way of knowing except... if that was the case then this bumbling clerk is certainly not the architect.

         

        A choice of words is a choice of worlds

        by Jay on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 01:57:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rescue is a great thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WI Deadhead, HudsonValleyMark

    I entirely missed this incredibly valuable diary.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 03:27:48 AM PDT

  •  Something Nate Silver missed (6+ / 0-)

    Now this is something interesting Nate Silver missed
    If you compare 2010 Waukashau as compared with the rest of Wisconsin with 2008 Waukasha with the rest of Wisconsin one of them is an outlier.  I am not sure, but I bet if you did a T test comparing the two there would be a significant difference.  2011 Supreme Court primary is closer to 2010, but that makes no difference because at the time it was a very different type of election.  Then I have two questions.  First, which of the two is an outlier going back to majory elections let's say to 2000.  That is, is Waukasha uusually so far ahead of the rest of Wisconsin it is an outlier or is Waukeshau usually within (though near the front of the pack).  Which one is the statistical norm for Waukasha.  But now the big question, how does that line up with when Kathy Nickolaus became in charge of voting on her computer in the country (I have only read articles back to 2010 but maybe it was before).  Maybe we shouldn't be "Oh nothing so see here."

    •  are we talking about turnout here? (0+ / 0-)

      It's logically reasonable to wonder whether Nickolaus has been stuffing Waukesha Co. ballot boxes (electronically and/or physically) for years. (If she has, I find it even harder to understand how the Amazing Appearing Votes make any sense as a fraud ploy, although I'm open to hearing about that.)

      Election inspectors should have a pretty good idea of how many people voted at their polling places; the poll lists should give the counts; the poll tally tapes could be susceptible to hacking of each scanner, but not to Access Magic (or the equivalent) at the county office.

      It's definitely possible for an election process to be sufficiently out of control to harbor massive endemic ballot-stuffing -- there are delightful historical examples. I don't know of any reason to think that Waukesha's is. But again I think it's important to try to pivot to the question: how would we know? If all our arguments are based on comparisons with past results, then "it's turtles all the way down." At some point we need to be able to assess contemporary evidence.

      •  It Amazes Me How Upset People Are... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        with errors in "unofficial" results.  They are unoffical for a reason.  The "official" results follow speciifc protocols so the chances of error are very slight.

        A couple of years ago I lived in a town that had a city election that ended in a tie after the completed canvass.  An automatic recount was required and one candidate lost a vote because an absentee ballot was counted twice.  A second recount supported the first recount.  A subsequent investigation by the losing candidate showed two illegal votes were cast.  A subsequent lawsuit overturned the election and a new election was ordered by the court and the original losing candidate won the new election.  

        I think that most people are concerned about who wins the election rather than if the election was carried out in a fair and honest way.  When voter fraud is found, the people that are the loudest when their candidate loses are the quietest about voter fraud and eliminating it.

        •  well, not most people (0+ / 0-)

          I think that most people do want elections to be fair -- even though their perceptions of fairness are influenced by their partisan expectations. I vaguely remember an article in Minnesota after the Franken/Coleman recount, which basically said, 'I supported Coleman all along, I expected Ritchie to butcher the recount, but I have to say that this process did Minnesota proud and I accept the result.'

          I don't fault folks at all for being suspicious of such a large change from the unofficial totals -- but some people do seem to put a lot more credence in the unofficial results than makes any sense.

    •  yes, were there previous irregularities? (1+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark
      Hidden by:
      Ravenstream

      Nate Silver's analysis never considers whether the data from previous elections might have been corrupted in some way as well.

      He just assumes all the data is sacrosanct.  Not a good scientist!

      •  I assume the HR here was accidental (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think your comment was remotely hideworthy.

        I don't think it's very deep, either. Since something facially bizarre happened in this election, it's perfectly reasonable to compare the results with results from past elections. If Waukesha had come up 95% Republican, you can be damn sure that people all over DKos would be saying that that makes no sense given the results of past elections -- and they would be absolutely correct.

        Now, if you can show me where Silver said that his analysis proves that the current numbers are accurate, then you have a point. But to say that he "just assumes all the data is sacrosanct" seems pretty lame.

  •  I think I know one solution I don't think you said (4+ / 0-)

    And that would be to learn to not expect immediate answers from elections.

    The idea that results need to be produced as soon as possible, as though some dire affect will happen if we don't know who won the race right away needs to be tossed aside. As a subset of that solution, I think we need to educate people that the results we see on election night are unofficial.

    Lastly, we need to educate people about coincidences. Users here who seem relatively intelligent don't seem to understand that it's simply an irrelevant coincidence that it appears as though the vote leads that Prosser looks to have now are high enough that Kloppenburg would have to pay for a recount. What they don't seem to grasp is that if the difference were smaller, Republicans could say that it looks suspicious that the margin of victory was small enough to force a mandatory recount!

    Neither is relevant or justified. The Waukasha county clerk had no idea how many votes were going to be reported statewide or what the distribution of those votes would be, and so she couldn't have possibly known how many votes she needed to pull out of her magician's hat in the canvassing recount in order to push the vote margin to a place where there's no mandatory, free recount! It's a theory without any evidence to support it. It's a simple coincidence. We need to educate people about them better.

    •  We don't know at this point what the clerk knew (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VoteAqui, Thumb, Amber6541, cville townie

      or didn't know.  We only really know what she said in her press conference, because there is a video of it.  

      How about refraining from all speculation, particularly speculation that helps the other side?

      Does anyone know what the make of these machines is?  Are they Diebold?  

      Which side are you on?

      by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:37:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sequoia (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cville townie

        Verified Voting site (I'm pretty sure this info is still correct despite the "2008" stamp in the URL). Looks like Optech III-P Eagles everywhere in the county, plus AVC Edge II DREs for accessibility.

        How about refraining from all speculation, particularly speculation that helps the other side?

        Three or four rec-listed diaries ago, I might not have laughed out loud at that. :)

        We're never going to refrain from all speculation. We're not even ever going to refrain from presenting speculation as obvious fact. My question is whether it's possible to harness some of that enthusiasm for useful purposes.

        •  Why is some speculation ok and other isn't? (4+ / 0-)

          And who decides?

          I checked on those machines.  The data is stored on a PCMCIA chip. The information is printed out on a tape - that is what was used at the canvass.  The chips are kept (supposedly).  However WI law states that a recount uses the paper ballots, according to that excellent site, Verified Voting.

          I also found out the Democratic Canvass Board member is appointed by the County Clerk, ie Kathy Nickolaus.  Makes me somewhat less sanguine about the whole thing.  Having lived in a very Republican county before, I can attest to the fact that Democrats can sometimes be DINOs.

          Which side are you on?

          by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 06:52:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wiseacre, Amber6541

            Sometimes they can also be 'beards.' I seem to recall that the "Democrat" in Florida who designed the fateful (and illegal) butterfly ballot had only recently switched her registration to Democrat, and not long after this incident she switched again.

            The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing; they tell us how the media is doing.

            by Thumb on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:36:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  you tell me (0+ / 0-)
            Why is some speculation ok and other isn't?

            And who decides?


            As far as I can tell, you are the one who introduced the word "speculation" into the discussion. You seemed to suggest either that we should refrain from all "speculation," or that we should preferentially refrain from speculation that "helps the other side" -- whatever that means.

            I think it is desirable to distinguish between speculation and statements of fact, although -- as I said -- I don't expect it ever to happen.

            We can speculate that it's possible that the Democratic canvass board member is simply lying about what is on the poll tapes. I'm not sure where that gets us, but we could try it. We can also speculate that the poll tapes may be wrong, in which case it really doesn't matter what we think of the Democratic canvass board member.

            Actually, I think I wish that people who suspect fraud in Waukesha would speculate more -- but speculate about things that might have happened, not just speculate generically about who can be trusted.

            •  A lot of the criticism of the skeptics here seems (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HudsonValleyMark

              based on the assumption that they lack evidence for their concerns, in other words, that they're speculative.  However, all the defenses for this clerk and all the ideas about her motivations, chances to cheat, etc are also speculative.  So if it's ok to defend her speculatively, why isn't it ok to suspect her speculatively.

              That's all I meant.  

              I will leave the diary if you like - I was just trying to have a serious discussion but it looks like Im causing a ruckus.

              Which side are you on?

              by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:45:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  here, let me try again (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wiseacre

                To make matters worse, I seem to be worse at spotting new comments in DK4 than I was in DK3.

                I've seen comments, and even rec-list diaries, that asserted flat-out that obviously Nickolaus stole the election. I've seen very little in the way of assertions that obviously she didn't. This isn't a generalization about "skeptics" (or rec-list diaries); plenty of people have expressed skepticism about the election outcome without saying anything ridiculous about it.

                I'm reminded of the (ongoing) aftermath of the 2004 election. One sometimes hears that people got banned for merely questioning the outcome. I never saw that happen. I did see some people who gave "questioning" a bad name, and frankly, I wasn't sorry to see them go.

                I think it's fine, even potentially constructive, to speculate about what might have happened in WI -- good, bad, and ugly -- as long as speculations are identified as such and make some degree of sense given known facts.

                •  Inferences and proof (0+ / 0-)

                  I think a lot of confusion on DK comes from a misunderstanding about levels of proof.  A conspiracy is a legal concept and proved by 1) an agreement to commit a crime and 2) at least one overt step taken by one party in furtherance of the conspiracy.  That's it.  Further, since people rarely put down in writing they plan to commit a crime, law allows inferences to be drawn from the behavior of the parties to prove the existence of an agreement.  DK's extraordinary claims/proof standard was derived from investigations of the paranormal, where tangible data detected by instrumentation is required for proof. Clearly, a scientific standard of proof should not be the guide in a legal question, the legal one should be.

                  You hear accusations with no evidence.  I hear inferences drawn from the actions of the parties, in Nickolaus' case a known dishonest partisan serendipitously makes a helpful mistake with suspicious timing, and it turns out that she has done similar things in almost every election she's held.  Inferences drawn from her behavior would suggest a potential for fraud that should be examined further so that fraud can be ruled out.

                  Which side are you on?

                  by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:12:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I really don't think so (0+ / 0-)
                    DK's extraordinary claims/proof standard was derived from investigations of the paranormal, where tangible data detected by instrumentation is required for proof. Clearly, a scientific standard of proof should not be the guide in a legal question, the legal one should be.

                    That makes a certain amount of sense, but as applied to Daily Kos CT, the "extraordinary" formulation is typically invoked against arguments that come nowhere near a legal standard of proof -- arguments very unlikely to win even an indictment, much less a conviction. In fact, it's common for people to complain that they are being held to a legal standard of proof in advance of a thoroughgoing investigation.

                    Here's the second graf of Cieran's rec-list diary from Thursday night:

                    So the last 2 days the WI-GOP has been scrambling trying to figure out how they can still get Prosser into office. What was the result of their brain-storming? Add a few extra votes in a friendly area (Waukesha), and call it a clerical error. But in order to steal the election, they NEED to be able to keep a recount from occurring, because a recount would expose their attempted fraud to the light of day.

                    Completely unsupported, and borderline nonsensical, since the vote count from Brookfield city was committed to on Tuesday night.

                    You comment,

                    ...in Nickolaus' case a known dishonest partisan serendipitously makes a helpful mistake with suspicious timing, and it turns out that she has done similar things in almost every election she's held.  Inferences drawn from her behavior would suggest a potential for fraud that should be examined further so that fraud can be ruled out.

                    First of all, it's presumptive to consider this "a helpful mistake." If the county clerk was in a position to give Prosser extra votes, why not do it on election night, and then maybe take some of them back? Remember Volusia County in 2000, where a bunch of votes were temporarily subtracted from Gore's vote total, contributing to the bogus Bush calls? I'm willing to entertain that as "a helpful mistake," but not this. It could be a flat-out fraud, but I'm still looking for a plausible explanation of how that fits the known facts.

                    Second, it seems hyperbolic to say that "she has done similar things in almost every election she's held." As I understand it, she became county clerk in 2002, and in 2006 she temporarily posted incorrect results in a Republican primary, which were corrected by sometime on Wednesday morning. How that supports an inference of fraud here is beyond me. I don't know of any other examples of incorrect reporting.

                    Third, all this is actually irrelevant, because we're not debating whether there is "a potential for fraud that should be examined further." We're debating whether there is a basis for confidently inferring and stating as fact that a crime was actually committed. I'm not seeing it, certainly not in Cieran's diary -- but the claim is there.

                    Or there is this comment, which garnered 20 recs:

                    Again what surprises me is people here...

                    Or Nate Silver trying to "rationalize" the theft of an election.

                    Look, it well could be that the numbers "match" historic totals, but there is no doubt on my mind that the votes "needed" by Prosser where kept by this GOP clerk as a life-saver in case they were going to be...needed.

                    This thing about some folks just being unable to understand that electoral fraud has happened in the USA and will continue to happen unless systems are changed, it is beyond frustrating.


                    I think it takes some chutzpah, but not in a good way, to accuse people of "trying to 'rationalize' the theft of an election" and "being unable to understand that electoral fraud has happened in the USA" on the basis that "there is no doubt on my mind." Is that a legal standard of proof? I would prefer not to think so.

                    I don't expect anyone to be banned for this stuff, but I don't really have much sympathy for the people who purvey it.

                    •  There were other instances than those two (0+ / 0-)

                      Watch this, this is where I got my information about her other shenanigans.

                      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...

                      Mark, a lot of this like that comment above is just rhetoric, venting, blowing off steam, hyperbole.  I think most people acknowledge that.  Venting is a good thing - we would go crazy if we couldn't.  

                      Kos started the CT thing because of the 9/11 people, and that was his right.  But on the whole I think ideas should be debated openly, and stand or fall on their own merits, and I think you do, too.

                      I made the legal observation, as I said above, to point out that there is some evidence, not enough to go to court, but enough to dig deeper and not write things off out of hand.

                      Which side are you on?

                      by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 08:41:49 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  OK, it's "rhetoric, venting..." (0+ / 0-)

                        That's why I generally don't HR the tip jar of a diary that makes assertions of fact without an iota of factual support. Sometimes it is humorless and mean-spirited to take people at their word. But it's hard to have meaningful discussion if we don't address content sooner or later. That's how it was with the allegations that Bush stole Ohio. kos let things run for a while, and finally he got fed up -- not with factual discussion on the merits, but with interminable repetitions of long-rebutted assertions plus streams of invective toward anyone who challenged them. And some people, ever since, have been complaining about how kos shut down election fraud discussions. I find it bizarre.

                        I think you posted the wrong Maddow link, but I found the right one -- then closed it. Maybe I'll post it later! I don't know the back story on how some voters in 2004 got the wrong ballots, but I would hardly assume that the county clerk was to blame; it isn't commensurable regardless. The Hartland result isn't even remotely comparable: there's nothing facially suspicious about a net three-vote swing from the unofficial to the official results. As for the butchered sample ballot, that might be suspicious -- not to mention quite bizarre -- but it's completely unrelated. And even if we count all these examples, and then count all the elections that Nickolaus has administered, we don't know of problems in most of them. That isn't a defense of Nickolaus per se, simply a discussion of the factual claim.

                        •  No it was the right link, she just had a preface (0+ / 0-)

                          I guess you didn't stay for the former legislator now professor who says the way Nickolaus runs her county is unique in WI.

                          The point is that her "human errors" always seem to benefit Republicans.   If they were random they would eventually have to benefit a Democrat.  How many "human errors" would it take for you to get suspicious?  10, 20, 100?  1000?  Would you ever get suspicious?    

                          Which side are you on?

                          by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 01:44:05 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  how could one tell? (0+ / 0-)
                            I guess you didn't stay for the former legislator now professor who says the way Nickolaus runs her county is unique in WI.

                            What does that have to do with enumerating her "other shenanigans"? Have you completely forgotten what your claim was?
                            The point is that her "human errors" always seem to benefit Republicans.

                            Assumes facts not in evidence. This error appears to have helped Kloppenburg -- unless, of course, one assumes that it wasn't an error. The 2004 error was in a primary. In the Hartland case, here's what I know about the candidate who ended up winning:
                            One of her priorities is to have the district investigate whether it would be economically feasible to incorporate Montessori methods or a program similar to University Lake School's pre-kindergarten into its programs.

                            A Republican? Heck if I know. I never really thought of Montessori as a Republican obsession.
                            How many "human errors" would it take for you to get suspicious?  10, 20, 100?  1000?  Would you ever get suspicious?    

                            How many of your own errors do I have to document before you get a teensy weensy bit suspicious of yourself? I seem to be doing most of the work here.
                          •  You've done nothing of the sort. (0+ / 0-)
                            I would hardly assume that the county clerk was to blame;
                             The professor blames the county clerk.
                            ...
                            Her "other shenanigans" are obviously the other times she has whined "human error" for her mistakes that benefitted Republicans.  

                            You are also ignoring her past partisan history where she has shown a willingness to bend the rules.   I don't think you are a Republican,  so why ignore it?  That history would certainly be used against her in court, if she were to claim she's not biased.
                            ...

                            This error appears to have helped Kloppenburg -- unless, of course, one assumes that it wasn't an error.

                            Finding 14,000 uncounted votes that flips the election the other way and lifts the total above where the state would pay for the recount actually helps Kloppenburg?  Wow.  Just, wow.
                            ...

                            And even if we count all these examples, and then count all the elections that Nickolaus has administered, we don't know of problems in most of them.

                            Are you really saying that because we don't know of all the problems in all her elections, that therefore we can't assume that the ones in question that helped Republicans show bias?  Are you really saying that, in the face of her previously well-documented partisan behavior that almost got her sent to jail (they don't give immunity if you aren't at risk).
                            ...
                            How neutral is it to give a proven rabid partisan the benefit of the doubt where she has made mistakes that benefit her side against ours and to the extent that you claim one of those mistakes actually benefitted our side?  

                            Is there something else going on here?

                            Which side are you on?

                            by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 05:50:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In fact, I call conflict of interest (0+ / 0-)

                            You obviously have a personal stake in being right on this issue.  You helped to write a book about the 2004 election, you say.  This explains the vehemence and the inability to concede any points.

                            I have no personal stake in any of these elections, other than having to live under them in the case of national ones, and in resenting having my qualms prematurely trashed by debunkers.

                            However, I can live with people disagreeing with me, I have all my life.  I won't lose any professional credibility or future work if I'm proven wrong.

                            Which side are you on?

                            by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 06:02:24 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the shark has been jumped (0+ / 0-)

                            How does my helping to write a book about the 2004 election give me "a personal stake in being right on this issue"? (What does that even mean? Should I have a personal stake in being wrong on this issue? Should I be indifferent about the truth?) Is everyone associated with a book having to do with elections discredited in general, or people whom you disagree with, or what? What is the conflict of interest here?

                            If you show me a valid point that I've failed to concede, I'll be happy to correct the record. I've lost count of the points I've made that you appear simply to have ignored.

                            I won't lose any professional credibility or future work if I'm proven wrong.

                            This is so odd. You seem to think that what I've written about the 2004 election somehow commits me to making possibly stupid arguments about other elections in order to protect my professional credibility.

                            That's silly, of course. My arguments about the 2004 election don't commit me to any opinions about the 2011 election. For that matter, whatever mistakes I may have made about the 2004 election or anything else, it is better for my professional credibility to correct them than to double down.

                          •  wow, this is remarkable (0+ / 0-)
                            The professor blames the county clerk.

                            The professor blames the county clerk for giving people the wrong ballots in that election? Really? Could you quote that for us? (If I were praising Nickolaus's competence, you might have a point, but that has never been the topic here.) And, by the way, did you document how that error -- whoever was to blame for it -- had a partisan bias?

                            While you're at it, could you explain how marking a sample ballot for the declared non-partisan candidate rather than the declared Republican candidate in a county exec contest benefited the Republicans?

                            And as long as you're explaining things, is there any particular reason you failed to mention that the professor agreed with Silver and Gilbert that the revised numbers are most likely correct (although they should be checked)?

                            You are also ignoring her past partisan history where she has shown a willingness to bend the rules.

                            (Ducks goalposts.)

                            I don't know if you remember this, but the reason we're discussing this is that you asserted that "she has done similar things in almost every election she's held." That appears to be false. Her past partisan history doesn't bear on that assertion at all. If you want to withdraw that point and make this point instead, that's fine. Or if you want to defend that point, well, good luck with that.

                            Finding 14,000 uncounted votes that flips the election the other way and lifts the total above where the state would pay for the recount actually helps Kloppenburg?  Wow.  Just, wow.

                            No, you have it backwards. You're assuming that there wasn't an error, which obviously won't give you any insight into who the error would have favored. Take a moment to consider the hypothetical possibility that there was an error. Did it benefit Prosser to be denied many of thousands of votes on election night, raising doubts about the legitimacy of his election? I don't think so.

                            I'm sure that seems like a technicality to you, but the question remains: if Nickolaus had the power to steal thousands of votes, why did she wait until after the election -- and, dare I ask, how do you think she may have done it? And a further question remains: is there anything you would accept as relevant evidence about the 2011 election itself? or are you simply more interested in discussing personalities?

                            Are you really saying that because we don't know of all the problems in all her elections, that therefore we can't assume that the ones in question that helped Republicans show bias?

                            No. A pretty good hint that I'm not really saying that is that I didn't say it, and it bears no resemblance or relation to what I did say. Things might go better if you respond to my actual words, or maybe at least to your own actual words.
                            How neutral is it to give a proven rabid partisan the benefit of the doubt...

                            Look, if you make an assertion, you bear the burden of supporting it. You don't get to complain that I'm giving someone "the benefit of the doubt" when I point out that you haven't supported your assertion.

                            Heck, you could post here that George W. Bush routinely ate babies for breakfast, and I would probably give him "the benefit of the doubt" about that, too. That's just how it works. On the other hand, if anyone comes up with a decent argument that Nickolaus fiddled the numbers, I'll be happy to say so. But not only are you not getting that done, you don't even seem to be trying.

    •  yeah, maybe I shd underscore about "unofficial" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Naniboujou, Cassandra Waites

      I think that people should expect almost immediate information from elections, but not instamatic "bottom line" results. I think both parts of that are important. If we know almost nothing until days after the election, then it's hard (and probably irrational) to have confidence in the process. But demanding instant and flawless results puts election officials in an impossible bind -- especially because election processes don't get funded at mission-critical levels. It's the old saw, "Cheap, fast, good: choose any two."

      I've often marveled at the psychology of coincidence. I think the human propensity to find patterns and connections is probably adaptive on balance, but I wish more people could distinguish between interesting hypotheses (or hunches) and known fact.

  •  If indeed it does turn out to be (5+ / 0-)

    gross incompetence (and I'm quite willing to believe it so, if that's what a thorough investigation turns up)...

    What an astonishing gift to those of us who support Kloppenburg!

    Just think, if those results had come in on election night, the story line would have been that Prosser had won outright -- with a margin beyond what a recount might reasonably overcome.  He'd have declared victory, Kloppenburg would probably have conceded, we'd have had to try very hard to overcome our disappointment even though such a close race was an awesome achievement in and of itself.

    Instead, we're angrier and more determined than ever.

    [And if the thorough investigation turns up any foul play, we'll be even more so.]

    Thank you, Kathy Nickolaus!

    If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

    by AnnieJo on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:06:20 AM PDT

    •  really interesting point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieJo

      I wondered out loud why someone in a position to stuff/create votes would have to do it in a way that attracted so much attention, but I didn't think directly about the political impact.

      I guess, on the way to election verification, we should prefer arrangements that at least increase the chance that fraud or massive error will really tick someone off -- even if it can't be definitively detected and corrected.

    •  Her claiming victory was also a good thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieJo

      Because now that calls his new victory into question no matter what the outcome is.

      Which side are you on?

      by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 06:54:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I live in Waukesha County (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DavidW, wiseacre, El Tomaso

    and the votes have been compromised.

    I want a do over.

    Due to recent cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

    by cyeko on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:53:45 AM PDT

  •  A few thoughts.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, WI Deadhead, in the Trees

    As DollyMadison says above, I think a big part of the problem is our expectations of immediate answers.  I don't doubt that some states will probably not make early totals available to the media any longer after this debacle.

    The talk of "gross incompetence", lack of audit procedures, etc. etc... If this mistake had gone unnoticed for a week or so, I would be right there saying the same.  But it is likely that procedures were in place to catch this very thing, and those procedures found the error.  It was found the next day.. probably earlier, then checked and re-checked before going public.

    This is not exactly correct:

    These paper trails aren't necessarily used very well. As I understand it, a recount in Wisconsin ordinarily is a machine recount: the ballots are fed back through the scanners. Even though statute 7.50 provides standards for establishing voter intent, the scanners are not familiar with its provisions.

    The nice thing about scanners is that they impartial.  They do have quite a bit of smarts regarding intent.  If a scanner is not 100% sure of the intent, it rejects the whole ballot.  That is why the ballots are scanned in the voter's presence.  Yes, it cannot know what the intent was if the voter smudged one circle and filled in another, but that is for the election judge to determine while the voter is still present.

    •  recounts (4+ / 0-)

      "The nice thing about scanners is that they impartial. "

      Yes, they tally exactly the way the software instructs them to tally.  Software that is ridiculously easy to game.  The only accurate recount is a manual recount, if the scanner screwed the pooch the first time it will screw the pooch every time.

      "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by bobski on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 05:24:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have a few reactions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Naniboujou
      If a scanner is not 100% sure of the intent, it rejects the whole ballot.

      Not sure what you're saying here. Most scanners are programmed to reject overvotes. I think some are programmed to reject undervotes, although I can't think of a jurisdiction that actually does that. I don't know of any that reject a ballot on the basis of uncertainty about voter intent. (It isn't even obvious what that would mean -- perhaps that one of the voting targets has a darkness score close to the predetermined threshold that distinguishes a vote from a a non-vote.)

      More generally, while it's true that scanners are impartial, I'd say a lesson of Coleman/Franken is that humans can agree on voter intent judgments that are beyond the competence of existing scanner/software systems. I think that's compatible with what you're saying here. But if the recount provides no means for humans to make those judgments, then it adds no value.

      Also, we know that the scanners can be misprogrammed, through human error or subversion. So a robust election system should provide at least some possibility of detecting and correcting scanner errors that could alter the outcomes.

    •  Scanners reject overvotes, not undervotes (0+ / 0-)

      It's true that most scanners seem to reject overvotes but not undervotes.
      When New York City was selecting Op Scan machines to replace the levers, the public was shown several demonstration models the elections boards were choosing from.  As I recall, at that point the demos rejected both overvotes and undervotes, and some even went through each race, showing the voter on a screen if they had over OR under-voted and asking the voter to confirm the undervotes.
      But somehow when the chosen models came, they did not have the undervote feature.
      Maybe in their infinite wisdom the powers that be decided to eliminate the undervote feature because people do undervote in a lot of races on purpose, and they thought the review feature notifying voters of undervotes would have just taken too much time  . . . .
      So in our corporatized elections system, speed and efficiency and lower cost wins out over careful democracy

  •  Yes and there was nothing wrong in Florida in 2000 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Tomaso, wiseacre, Thumb

    With all due respect I wouldn't trust this County Clerk at all!  Here we have yet another case of a less than ethical County Clerk suddenly changing the results in an election.  This same County Clerk did the exact same thing in a 2006 election.  

      As well as a complete recount of all the paper ballots in the county.  Nickolaus's computers both work and personal should be impounded immediatly.  A thorough examination of her finances and phone records needs to be conducted.  Finally any electronic voting machines used in Waukesha county this election should be impounded, the software in the machines thoroughly examined and the machines tested for accuracy of the vote count.

    If all of the above is not done then I'd say the results of this election are not to be believed that is unless you really think there is a tooth fairy!

    •  recount (0+ / 0-)

      Well said.

      "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by bobski on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 05:32:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  here's the point of the diary (0+ / 0-)

      I really don't care whether anyone trusts the county clerk or not. Elections aren't supposed to be exercises of blind faith in election officials. The question is what would give us a basis for confidence that election results are correct.

      I don't agree that the clerk suddenly changed the results. The unofficial totals are just that; they didn't change, but rather were superseded by the results of the official canvass. The results from Brookfield city were reported by the city clerk on election night. The change from the unofficial totals to the canvass results is consistent with the hypothesis that the city was simply left out of the unofficial totals.

      Not only haven't I seen evidence that anything else happened, but I haven't seen a coherent account of what else might have happened. If no one has a sensible alternative to the county clerk's story, then it makes sense provisionally to accept her story whether I "trust" her or not. That still leaves the question of how whether and how we could resolve the doubts.

      A complete recount of all the paper ballots seems reasonable. Frankly, it seems like overkill, but it isn't all that hard. That would constitute a check on the accuracy of the vote count, so I don't know whether further scrutiny of the machines would be all that helpful -- especially since it is always possible to rig a scanner to miscount ballots just on election night. If you don't trust the physical evidence, where do you go? (Of course, if the hand counts are way off from the scanner counts, then we need to try to figure out why.)

      If you are seriously suggesting that our confidence in the election outcome should hinge on scrutinizing Nickolaus's phone records, then I guess we're hosed. No amount of scrutiny of her phone records could increase my confidence in the election outcome.

      •  Here's the point of my comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        I am seriously suggesting that elections in this nation should be thoroughly scrutinized especially when people like the Koch brothers are in your back yard.  Yes her phone records would reveal who she's been in contact with and it is necessary because this individual in my view cannot be trusted.   Elections are about power and as such are prone to the most unimaginable corruption.

        Elections have very serious consequences so we better be sure when something happens as happened in this election we shine a light in every crack to find the truth.  It is the least the people are owed to protect them.  This is not a child's game it is a very real!  The steps I suggest do one thing remove any shadow of doubt about the vote count.  Election Officials must know in the event of a situation such as this one they will be investigated right down to the color of their socks.

        It's not who votes in an election that matters it's who counts the votes!  

        •  so the q is what counts as thorough scrutiny (0+ / 0-)

          I agree that the individual can't be trusted, and that's why it seems fairly useless to examine her phone records. I guess a call from Karl Rove would look pretty bad -- but nothing possibly could vindicate her, and even damning circumstantial evidence wouldn't shed much light on what actually happened.

          I mean, seriously. It's not as if I'm invested in protecting someone's phone records. But is there anyone in the world who would say, "Well, I thought she had stolen the election, but her phone records were squeaky clean, so I changed my mind"? Even if there is, that model of election verification will be hard to take to a national scale.

          It seems worth bearing in mind that the situation here is an incorrect unofficial vote count -- which New York City has in every single election, as far as I know. It's reasonable to think that this one is especially suspicious, but that doesn't get at the broader issue of how to get to evidence-based elections.

          •  Mark people may be remembering Ohio 2004 and (0+ / 0-)

            the man in the middle gambit, where the results were phoned to a GOP computer consultant and massaged before being tallied at the SOS in Ohio.  

            Which side are you on?

            by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 04:44:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  are you sure? (0+ / 0-)

              What we know on the record is that Smartech provided web hosting for the SoS results.

              That Smartech massaged the results, and the SoS then tallied them, is unsupported speculation. It serves no evident explanatory purpose: if Blackwell was as crooked as a boomerang -- and he certainly showed signs of it -- presumably he could have found a way to mistally the county results without dragging in an out-of-state web host.

              The trouble is that the counties reckoned their results, at the precinct level, and then sent the county totals to the state. So mistallying county results, in itself, wouldn't really accomplish anything: the SoS doesn't have a monopoly on the ability to add.  Maybe someone managed to subvert many of the county counts, but then why even bother with a MiM attack? It's almost a solution in search of a problem.

              Maybe you have a good answer. As far as I could tell, Stephen Spoonamore never came up with one, and I slogged through some long interviews. I've talked with voting security experts who couldn't make any more sense out of it than I could.

              •  Not so - there's an affidavit "on the record" (0+ / 0-)

                under oath in a case in active litigation.  Spoonamore's.  This is undeniably evidence, and unless he's impeached, it's  expert opinion evidence.  

                In the case of Ohio 2004, the only purpose I can conceive for sending all county vote tabulations to a GOP managed Man-in-the-Middle site in Chattanooga BEFORE sending the results onward to the Sec. of State, would be to hack the vote at the MIM.

                Your objection seems to be "but that doesn't make any sense - why would they do it that way".  Maybe they shouldn't have used an out of state IT consultant.  Maybe they shouldn't have been so obvious.  The GOP is utterly hubristic - they never think people will be onto them.  But that fact that others would do it differently doesn't negate what actually happened.  Besides, other states in 2004 were hinky, too.  It makes perfect sense that Bush would use their trusted buddies the GOP website gurus in Chattanooga to handle the entire national thing.  Don't forget they're implicated in the Bush White House email scandal as well.

                Which side are you on?

                by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:44:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  my objection is the lack of evidence (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jake Johnson

                  If Spoonamore has evidence that the county computers communicated directly with Smartech, I know a bunch of smart people who would love to see it. It's really not clear what he thinks he knows. He says that the system was originally set up for the counties to communicate with the SoS, and then adds:

                  Alternately I have been told that these processes were replaced at the last minute by fax transmitted results. It is relatively simple to establish if the security of the transmissions, whether sent by fax, or by electronic transmission, by reviewing the network architecture as operated on election night, and review the session logs of the secretary of states central tabulation computer to determine the IP address and times of communication by other machines to the the Secretary. The variable nature of the story of what occurred, and lack of documentation available, would be cause to launch an immediate fraud investigation in any of my banking clients.

                  Does that sound like someone who has evidence that the counties were communicating directly with Smartech? Not so much.

                  I'm not dismissing the logical possibility that the counties communicated directly with Smartech; I adamantly deny that it is a known fact, much less that we know that the data were "massaged" after leaving the counties. I see one sentence in Spoonamore that appears to state it as a fact, several that indicate that he doesn't know, and no justification for any of it. If he actually has reason to believe it, it is almost unfathomable how poor his efforts to convey his rationale have been.

                  •  What would convince you? (0+ / 0-)

                    The hard drives were intentionally destroyed after people started asking questions.  In law, that's called "spoliation of the evidence" and it allows inferences to be drawn against the spoliator.  

                    What would it take to make you worried that an election was likely to have been stolen?  Nothing so far seems to meet your standard.

                    Which side are you on?

                    by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 09:21:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't know of anyone Spoonamore convinced (0+ / 0-)

                      Not even Spoonamore:

                      1. During the evening and early morning on the 2004 General Election in Ohio, on my own computer was watching the results of incoming counties and precincts. I believed there was a more than likely chance County Tabulators had been programmed to manipulate votes. I had a simple Microsoft Excel program running to help with the analysis. As early results showed Kerry ahead, at about 11PM, I noticed a trend in a very few counties (I believe I noted 8 counties on election night) that at about 11PM suddenly began reporting radically different ratios of Kerry to Bush votes. All in favor of Mr. Bush.

                      So Spoonamore, for reasons best known to him, thought the election had been hacked before the results began. That is unusual. But what is downright weird is that in the world according to Spoonamore, "early returns showed Kerry ahead," apparently until at least "about 11PM."

                      Really? That's not how a lot of us remember election night. Think hard about this. What could Spoonamore possibly be saying? Also, what sort of "trend" would have been required in "a very few counties" -- none of them very large -- in order to turn a hypothetical Kerry lead into a six-digit Bush win?

                      3. My second analysis, found that my suspected 8 counties, were part of larger group of 12-14 "Connally Anomaly" counties where the results of a down ballot judicial race indicated wildly different voter preferences than the Presidential Race. In the "Connally Anomaly" Counties, tens of thousands of voters are recorded as having voted for an extremely liberal, minority judge who had done no campaigning in the county, but cast no vote for Kerry.

                      Sorry, but this is just bullshit. There was nothing anomalous about the judicial returns in 2004; the same sort of thing happened in 1996 and 2000. At that time, judicial contests were nonpartisan on the ballot, so there tended to be a lot of crossover votes. The 2004 returns don't stand out.
                      4.Other experts in voting and statistics have conducted analysis of this event and deemed it "impossible" or "beyond 1 in a Billion" likelihood an election could have had such an outcome.

                      One really, really has to squint to find a sense in which this statement is true. If you compiled, then or now, a list of 100 experts in voting and 100 experts in statistics, and then asked them all to assess those claims, I doubt you would find one in 200 who agreed. I don't intend that as an argument from authority, at least no more than Spoonamore does. I can't tell what "experts" he is relying on, but I have no basis for deferring to their putative expertise. I have no right to be "convinced" by this non-argument. If you know of relevant evidence, than we can discuss it.
                      ...recalling that staff of Triad were reported to have removed hard drives from County Tabulators in advance of the recount...

                      Were reported by whom? In which counties? Did the counties where Spoonamore thinks he saw bizarre results even use Triad? How on earth could any reasonable person be convinced by this handwaving hearsay?
                      8. It has been asserted by some that local County Elections officials had been instructed to Fax final results to confirm them, but this action would not have mattered if the local elections boards computers were already under the control of the KingPin. The results Faxed from the County to the Secretary of State would be results inserted by the SmartTech KingPin into the County Tabulator. The Faxed output is in fact a smokescreen to mask the already hacked results and provide an illusion the tabulators were not reporting results over the internet.

                      9. The final tabulation results to the Secretary of State's offices. Any tabulator with a known IP address connected to the Internet at the county level could be addressed by the SmartTech computer. The SmartTech computer would as the results of the evening proceeded be able to know how many votes Bush needed to steal from Kerry, and flip enough votes on the desired county tabulators to reverse the outcome of the election.


                      "The Faxed output is in fact a smokescreen" -- I'm unnerved by Spoonamore's failure to distinguish consistently between fact and conjecture. But setting that aside, Spoonamore apparently just mooted the MiM assertion. If any tabulator with a known IP address and an internet connection could have been hacked, then why do we need a MiM? We don't. It's patently risible to assert that the powers of darkness needed instamagic access to real-time results in order to decide, apparently beginning around 11 PM, how many votes they needed to steal ("oh, let's shoot for a winning margin of about 118,000, shall we?"). You might think that they used MiM just because they could, and that is logically possible, but Spoonamore hasn't presented any intelligible evidence to support it.

                      So, to the extent that Spoonamore brings expertise to this issue -- and setting aside the things he says that just aren't so -- he basically adds nothing. Which tabulators were connected to the internet? No information. Which hard drives were removed? No information. Most of these counties voted on punch cards, so does the physical evidence support Spoonamore's conjecture? No information (but Richard Hayes Phillips gamely tried, and failed, to find supporting evidence). Add back in his voluble ignorance about the election returns, and, jeepers. What is there to believe here?

                      (It might be useful to compare notes with Anastasia P, who does think that Kerry should have won Ohio, but is perhaps even more dismissive of the Smartech bit than I am.)

                      When LBJ stole his Senate seat, the physical evidence was damning. It isn't facially unreasonable to hope for some physical evidence here, and/or some statements from the people who presumably conspired to suppress it. (No, the people who jiggered the partial recount in Cuyahoga don't fit this bill, and I'd be happy to explain why if it isn't obvious.) It also isn't facially unreasonable to hope for some statistical evidence that actually makes sense: if hundreds of thousands of votes were stolen in eight not especially large counties, the results from those counties should look quite bizarre. I mean, if Kerry had been leading in those counties, Spoonamore would have a pretty interesting case -- except that actually, if Kerry had been leading in those counties, that would have been suspicious in itself.

                      •  As far as I can tell, physical evidence or (0+ / 0-)

                        confession would convince you then.   Or statistical evidence that makes sense (to you).  Are you a statistician?  The president of the American Statistical Association found enough troubling in the 2004 election to write an op-ed about it that was suppressed.  But I suppose that wouldn't make an impression on you either.

                        Alas my friend, today election fraud cases are proven with statistics alone by the DOJ, who is in charge of monitored elections in a number of states where pre-clearance is required under the Voting Rights Act.  That is how things are done now, because there is never the type of physical evidence or confessions you seek.  The criminals running the elections are in charge of the physical evidence, and when people get close enough, the evidence is destroyed, like the hard drives in the Ohio 2004 election.  The only way to prove these stolen elections is with anomalous results.  And to begin an investigation you have to believe there were anomalous results in the first place, and not explain them away.

                        Which side are you on?

                        by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 01:34:44 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  wow, you're funny (0+ / 0-)
                          Are you a statistician?  The president of the American Statistical Association found enough troubling in the 2004 election to write an op-ed about it that was suppressed.  But I suppose that wouldn't make an impression on you either.

                          You really don't get it. I have worked with Fritz Scheuren. I wrote or co-wrote three of the chapters in Scheuren and Alvey's book on this subject. I've read his work on the Ohio exit polls, which based on your comment, I can only assume you have never heard of. I don't have to rely on second-hand anecdotes about suppressed op-eds.
                          Alas my friend, today election fraud cases are proven with statistics alone

                          Sure, and if you want to hold up your end of this discussion, maybe you'd like to marshal some statistical arguments. C'mon, wiseacre, bring it. Let's see what you've got. </trashtalk>

                          Seriously, WTF?

                          •  So you ARE a statistician? (0+ / 0-)

                            Then you know that the DOJ uses statistics in election fraud cases.  You know they don't use physical evidence or confessions.  I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

                            The original data from Ohio in 2004 that would help prove this case statistically is gone.  It was destroyed.  You know that, too.  It's gone because people didn't get to it in time.  Why they didn't get to it in time, well, that would involve speculation.

                            You obviously know a lot about this election.  Perhaps you also know that, if this were a trial, and the other side had destroyed the evidence like they did in Ohio, it would have been deemed admitted against them.  That's how the legal system solves cases where evidence conveniently disappears.  The side that destroys the evidence is presumed to have done so because it would have proven the case against them so strongly that they are willing to risk sanctions, fines, and jail to get rid of it.  And so the legal system would presume fraudulent activity was in those missing hard drives.

                            But this is all speculative now.  People have moved on.  There is nothing to learn here - not enough evidence.

                            Which side are you on?

                            by wiseacre on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 05:22:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  say whaa? (0+ / 0-)

                            The original data that would help prove this case statistically is gone? No, I don't know that at all. What are you talking about?

                            It would be really interesting, one way or another, to have you walk through how it is you think that the DOJ can prove its cases statistically, but the case you have in mind about 2004 can't be proven. It might actually enable us to discuss something, which hasn't been happening for a while, since you blithely ignore most of what I write.

    •  Ultimately (0+ / 0-)

      Partisans should either be barred from involvement in election tallies, or they should be required to work in matched pairs where each side provides their half.

      I have no problem with electronic vote tallying machines, but I don't understand why we couldn't have the same paper ballot be scanned through two separate scanners, each one controlled by their side. If the numbers don't match (+/- .01%?), then you hand audit the paper ballots. Too simple?

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing; they tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:52:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  partisans (0+ / 0-)

        We're still fine-tuning that in New York. This past year, there was a very close state Senate contest in which the post-election audit should have been expanded -- but it wasn't, because the county board split along partisan lines. Still, the idea of letting interested parties keep watch on each other has a lot of appeal. That is how the canvass boards in Wisconsin are supposed to work. As far as I know, they do.

        Applying that logic to scanners might work, but I would like to see some hand audits sometimes regardless. I'm fuzzy on the implementation details. Here in New York, we just adopted precinct-based optical scanners. Would we then run all the ballots through two more scanners? Would that even really convince anyone? I wonder. But the idea of independent checks makes some sense.

        Have you heard of the Humboldt Transparency Project? The basic idea there was to do an independent scan of all the ballots, and post all the images online so people could count them to their heart's content. There are some pesky issues there (how do you know that all the ballots were scanned? how do you know that the images are accurate? is it really a good idea to publish all those ballot images?), but it's a cool idea -- and it uncovered a huge bug in the Diebold EMS.

        •  In my perfect world, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HudsonValleyMark

          any number of outside parties would have the right to have ballots run through their scanner. I'm sure some reasonable limit could be established, but I can't see where it would be that much of a logistical headache if there were three or four scanners in a row and a volunteer from each scanner's representitve group was there to run the ballot through their scanner.

          We would know right away which groups were outliers and if it happened too often they could be barred from X number of elections.
           

          The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing; they tell us how the media is doing.

          by Thumb on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 12:48:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  oh, I think that could be a logistical headache (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Thumb

            There were over 130 million votes cast in the last presidential election. That's a lot of scanning time! And the multiple scans provide multiple opportunities to damage ballots; that could even be done on purpose. (In fact, it's not inconceivable that a "scanner" could contain a print head to spoil votes cast for one candidate, or to capture undervotes.) I'm not necessarily opposed to redundant scanning, but there is a lot to work out before I would want to rely on it for election verification, and it's not where I would start. Dunno, you might talk me into it. It would be cool to have a bunch of diaries on how to improve elections.

            A somewhat similar idea, which actually avoids some of the objections, was presented at EVT/WOTE last year. It's called OpenScan, and it basically uses video cameras to mimic scanner functionality, allowing several simultaneous and touch-free "scans." If we're not willing to trust the images from one scanner, OpenScan might be a viable alternative.

  •  Excellent overall analysis! (4+ / 0-)

    I agree that we should let the state's process play out before we jump to conclusions.  However, I'm still troubled by her past history of conducting herself in ways that border on "shady."

    •  Also troubled by the weirdness of her explanation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, wiseacre

      In her press conference she seemed to go into detail to explain just how the error occurred.

      Yet so many IT people have said that her explanation makes no sense and even must be a lie - at the same time that it reveals that she had total unsupervised control of the process with no safeguards built in, which allowed the mistake or whatever it was to happen in the first place.
      I admit that the writer I'm quoting below seems partisan to judge from his site, but his point seems valid to me nonetheless.

      IT explanation here

      What does PROVE Nickolaus’ dishonesty is this statement during the press conference regarding the newly found votes:

          “this is an access database file that was on our regular system and it was just a matter of the save and it was just human error.” (see video below this statement appears at about 4:28 in to the video)

      The two things that jumped out to me in that statement are the words “Access Database” and “Save”. Because  you don’t hit “Save” when working in an Access Database. The second you type anything in to a field in Access it is saved. Typically you couldn’t even find a save button in an Access DB if you wanted to!

      Is it possible that her database was designed in such a way where she has to hit save? Yes. But it is highly, highly unlikely and would require a programmer to go out of his/her way to implement such a thing as it is so contrary to the way Access works.

      I have worked in IT for over 16 years now. I have been an Access developer just as long. I have built countless custom Access Databases for a variety of businesses and Government Agencies. I have supported countless other existing Access databases including one which runs the County Board of Elections in an Upstate NY county.  NONE of them require you save when you enter, import or change data.

      If she had said she was working with a spreadsheet or word document or anything other than Access her lie would be believable. But when you stand up and say this error was caused by “human error” and not saving data in Access I call Shenanigans immediately.

      •  I've never found this argument compelling (0+ / 0-)

        In ordinary English, what she appears to say is that she tried to upload the Brookfield data to the Access DB, she thought she had succeeded, but evidently she hadn't. The Brookfield data weren't saved in the Access DB.

        People have tried to turn this into some evidence of nefarious intent, because obviously Access doesn't have a "Save" command.

        I think that is a self-defeating line of argument. What, did she have time to tamper with thousands of ballots, but no time to come up with a cover story that made sense? About the only thing I can do with it is that she was trying to convince technologists around the country that she was too damn stupid to be corrupt. But she didn't do a very good job of that, either.

        Obviously we could do with a better explanation of 'sup with that database,  but her statements about it so far don't strike me as especially suspicious or interesting.

        •  I could give you some props up to this one, but... (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry, trying so hard to speculate about what the clerk meant when she said she didn't press "save" undermines your claim to impartiality here.

          You had me at "unofficial means unofficial". I could hang with you on some of the other points as well.

          Here, however, you just are trying harder to come up with explanations than the clerk herself. You make a claim to expertise based in research and experience, and I do not dispute your credentials. Would you accept mine as someone who has worked with the four most recent versions of Microsoft Access for the past decade as an integral part of my daily business?

          It is impossible in Access to not save a number once entered. This was not an "upload"; she claims to have not pressed save after entering the number. If she actually uses Access on her personal computer (and she has for years, much to the dismay of her superiors), then she knows that what she said in her apology/explanation is not true, and she knew it at the time she made the statement.

          A little Occam's Razor here goes a long way: your speculation is even more complicated than her explanation, and neither does either of you any credit.

          I can accept that the revised numbers may, indeed, be more accurate than what we saw on election night. I can follow and understand your argument, just not your excuse for her excuse.

          Having an Ideology is not the same as Having Ideas.

          by Mark Throckmorton on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 03:09:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Border? (0+ / 0-)

      She jumped that chasm a long time ago.

      The polls don't tell us how a candidate is doing; they tell us how the media is doing.

      by Thumb on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:53:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Calling Rosemary Woods (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HudsonValleyMark

    It's a fairly convincing argument, Mark, but the problem is that even if you're correct, which I'm still out on, it fails the looks test in some very crucial ways.  What you have here is plausible deniability applied to voting issues.

    if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, after all . . .  I guess we have to wait for the recall elections and hope that none of them are in that county.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 06:50:30 AM PDT

    •  is it all about plausible deniability? (0+ / 0-)

      We have the ballots. If the ballots corroborate her story, then I guess we could still speculate that all the ballots were tampered with. What would it take to believe in the election result whether or not we trust her personally?

      That shouldn't be a rhetorical question or a question just about Waukesha. That's the fundamental question about elections. (We could try removing all partisans from election administration -- but I don't think that would really work, either.)

  •  About the MS Access database (4+ / 0-)

    Perhaps I missed it but we don't know if this is some simple thing Nickolaus slapped together or if it is a software product that was purchased from a software vendor.  

    This little snippet raises my interest about the software:

    She also said she's running the most current election software certified - as required - by the state.

    If it's certified then something isn't working quite right if some municipality could induce it to blow up by changing a spreadsheet.  It doesn't add up.

    Fraud, incompetence, user error, poor quality software - all that could be in the mix.

    I'm sure the state authorities will sort that out eventually.

    •  Her news conference only adds to the confusion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1

      She made three different claims about the "saving".  Hard to understand with an "IT expert".

      Which side are you on?

      by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:09:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I want to look at this some more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1

      She actually said, I think, that this DB was provided by the GAB. I'm not clear about that.

      Gonna take a walk, then maybe learn more....

      But running a report with 0 for an entire city -- it shouldn't be too hard to figure out whether that actually happened.

      •  I looked at the conference word for word (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark, Satya1

        She had 3 different stories about how she saved the imported spreadsheet (a) automatically on importing, as it was done in Nov and Feb elections pt 1, 5:55, (b)she hit save all night pt 1, 9:27, and (c) it was inadvertently not saved pt 1 2:13, and then a cryptic remark about "it was just a matter of the save - and, ah - it was just human error" at pt 14:36.

        There were also two different stories about when she found the error (either before the canvass Pt 2 7:16 or during the canvass when reconciling Brookfield numbers Pt 1 3:10).

        Here is the part 1 link and part 2

        Which side are you on?

        by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 08:32:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the first part doesn't really seem contradictory (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Satya1

          How does one import a spreadsheet to this DB? I don't know specifically, but it seems likely that one selects a filename and then clicks... something... to execute the import. So, she represented that she believes that she did the same thing she was doing all night (whether it's literally "hitting save" or what), with a different result.

          The second part may or may not be contradictory. She may have noticed something wrong before the canvass began, and not been sure what it was until she reached that point in the canvass. Or she may have a hard time reconstructing exactly what happened.

          Or she could be lying about all of that, or any part of it. (Maybe she just plain forgot to upload Brookfield.) But I don't see where that gets us. So, she's a bad liar? Regardless, what is the fraud scenario?

          I think this is a tangent, but certainly an interesting one.

          •  I didn't see the full press conference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HudsonValleyMark

            and it sounds like it still will not help me figure out exactly what happened.  People use such imprecise language with just this sort of thing.  For example someone used the phrase "personal computer" and some assumed Nickolaus did this all on her home computer because of that.

            About importing a spreadsheet to a DB.  It's not hard to set up and can be done in a variety of ways.

            Many people say MSAccess is a "database".  What it is really is an application development tool that someone can use to design forms, reports and other means of manipulating data.  It is not a DBMS (database management system).

            So people can design applications with screens - maybe one with a screen of buttons that manipulate the data, users can click a button to browse to a file location for importing into the database.  That part is not hard.

            The part that is hard is the file import.  The structure of the file to be imported must be precisely defined.  This is why spreadsheets are often a very bad choice for this.  Most spreadsheets can be manipulated by anyone and this could goof up the structure of the data.  Like the extra two columns I heard about that got added.

            A spreadsheet would only work if one could define the columns and rows very precisely and lock down the spreadsheet (with a password) in such a way that it can't be changed in ways that would make the import fail.

            And this is kind of interesting.  Thanks for mentioning it:

            "DB was provided by the GAB"  DB in that case could be the whole application including screens, reports, the database file structure, the spreadsheet structure.  Or it could just mean the database file structure.

            •  yes, spreadsheet a scary choice (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Satya1

              And apparently not all that well implemented, since as you mention, Brookfield city reportedly hosed the format the first time around.

              Just SWAG-ing from Nickolaus's comments, I conjecture that the GAB provided the entire application, so that counties wouldn't have to figure out for themselves how to pull in the reports. But even assuming that I'm not forgetting something she said to the contrary, I would rather not rely upon hearsay.

            •  I included the links in my comment above (0+ / 0-)

              watch it for yourself.  You may say she misspoke, she stumbled, she got flustered, etc.  For a layperson I would agree.  This is a skilled politician who not only was publicly unmasked as dishonest at a criminal level in the past, but as Rachel Maddow says, she has used the "poor incompetent me" human error meme to explain each serendipitous mistake she has committed that has benefited her side in almost every election since 2002.  So her contradictions merit extra scrutiny, which is all I've done.  Finding them there, I think they are a signal to dig deeper and rule out fraud.

              There comes a point when you have to ask just what would it take to make some of these pooh-poohers suspicious.

              Which side are you on?

              by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 03:56:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Well the first supports the access criticism (0+ / 0-)

            that in access you don't have to save, it just does it automatically.  She's saying it happened automatically Nov and Feb, as far as I can tell.

            The automatically saved assertion is in utter contradiction to the "I saved it numerous times" assertion and the way access usually behaves.

            The "inadvertently not saved" is ambiguous, and that fourth remark is pretty well indecipherable - it's like she's trying to sidestep talking about saving at all.

            The fact that someone lies is an unmistakable signal to press harder at that very area.  It may be nothing. She may just enjoy lying. But lying about something usually means something they want to keep hidden from you.  Given her dishonest history, I would be very concerned about any lying.  The cover story is often plausible, as it is here.  But it may not be the whole story.  Lies point the way to the whole story.

            As for the other contradiction, that may also be inarticulateness.  But it's a contradiction, so is she lying at the beginning of the presser, or at the end of the presser, because they can't both be true.

            I don't understand how lying about how a huge serendipitous change benefitting the other side in an election happened is tangential.  These signals may be subtle, but they're there. Anyone can do what I did and go through the video word for word.  It doesn't matter what she may have said off  camera, unless she was confronted and said she misspoke or something like that.  The contradictions are there.

            This is why people need to be more skeptical, and not airily say "no evidence" - evidence might well be right in front of their noses.  I'm not saying fraud absolutely occurred, I'm saying there is evidence fraud may have occurred and we need to look harder to make sure it didn't.

            Which side are you on?

            by wiseacre on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 03:47:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  FWIW (0+ / 0-)
              The automatically saved assertion is in utter contradiction to the "I saved it numerous times" assertion and the way access usually behaves....

              The fact that someone lies is an unmistakable signal to press harder at that very area.  It may be nothing. She may just enjoy lying.


              I think it's reasonable for the same word to have different meanings in different contexts, when the context requires it. All of her statements seem consistent with the same basic meaning: all night long she uploaded spreadsheets in the same way, all night long it seemed to work, but this time it didn't. Part of this could be a lie, but I see no basis for assuming that it is.

              At any rate, I'm still waiting for someone to post a plausible fraud scenario. Parsing the press conference in search of contradictions isn't really getting me there. I would expect you to be, if anything, more interested than I am in how she could have stolen the election, but it doesn't seem that way.

              You keep saying that people should be more skeptical, but it seems to me that I'm more skeptical than you are. Shrug.

        •  What Really Matters ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... is the votes. There's a paper trail. The votes can be manually recounted. I very strongly believe they should be. But I also believe that, in the end, her story that she's a brainless drone will be correct. I will be shocked (and delighted) if it was fraud, but don't hold your breath.

  •  Better angels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wiseacre, Thumb

    I know the temptation to always think the best of other people, but is it really so wise to dismiss potential corruption? Isn't that the weakness of Democrats in Washington, that they always assume the other side is rational and will play fairly? More than a little caution is in order, I'm afraid. The other side is playing for keeps.

    •  this shouldn't be about "dismissing" anything (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jake Johnson

      It should be (IMHO) about thinking about how to bring evidence to bear.

      I really have read dozens of comments that simply say that obviously the election was stolen, with no evidence whatsoever. That bugs me. But the answer isn't to go to the opposite extreme. We should be working toward evidence-based elections.

      •  we aren't a court of law here (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wiseacre
        To attempt to be ‘neutral’ in waters already muddled by unavoidable politics is simply to serve the implicit or most powerful political values already present.
        (Kristin Shrader-Frechette 1985)

        It's nice to want to believe that Nickolaus was merely incompetent, and while the facts may beat that out in the end, I'm not going to look for evidence to exonerate her. I used to work as a budget analyst under Gov Thompson and McCallum, and we were good at fooling people with numbers, leading them to believe what they wanted to believe. But at least that was back when some people in the GOP still had a pretense of ethics.

        That's gone now, and the party is full of self-righteous hacks who will not hesitate to cheat, lie and steal to get whatever they want. Balanced reporting only serves their interests. And hoping for fairness didn't exactly help Democrats in the 2000 or 2004 elections, did it?

        •  we're a reality-based community, supposedly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jake Johnson

          I don't apologize for trying to examine evidence in a way that should be intelligible to people regardless of partisanship. I don't think that puts me at odds with Shrader-Frechette, but if it does, so what?

          Again, the point here isn't to look for evidence to exonerate Nickolaus. It's to look for evidence, period -- and to think about how to make sure that evidence is available.

          Balanced reporting only serves their interests.

          Why? Split-the-difference reporting certainly would, but how does it serve liars' interests to try to determine and tell the truth?
    •  better angels (0+ / 0-)

      Always expecting the best in people leads to a lifetime of disappointment while expecting the worst yields pleasant surprises now and again.

      "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

      by bobski on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:54:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HudsonValleyMark

    With most of what you write and say. Most likely just a really stupid error.

    That said, I believe the piece for me that is the most frustrating is that nothing will come or change from this...people have been screaming about elections and how the votes are counted and tabulated for years....and crickets.

    I don't see anything happening to Ms. Nicklaus...and sorry but I bet money that if she leaves, it's for a cushier paid experience higher up in some Koch Republicon associated position. Because people who are clearly that partisan are rewarded for their gross incompetence.  Plus all her vast previous activities of placing party above country and showing her partisan allegiance to republicons ....that is a value KkKarl Rove loves and cherishes.  The republicon Party is a cult...It's a freakin cult...a cult....a dangerous cult!

    Yes a cult, I mean in what country does nothing come from the fact that on the telephone the Governor of a State admits openly that he and his fellow thugs thought of using agitators against protester (clearly not just amoral but also I'd think against the law to plot this) endangering the people he is paid to serve and protect, and yet crickets...no one bats an eye...nothing...yes and this man not only openly admits that the only reason they didn't had nothing to do with it being illegal, dangerous, or that people might get hurt or worse. NO they didn't go through with it only because Walker might lose popularity and  public opinion over this if it dragged out. Unreal...and yet he's still there...still destroying peoples lives. Still moving his agenda forward as relentlessly as he can, no retreat, no fear, no defeat...a clear minded focus of getting his way...that is their goal, rules be damned. Don't like the rules, change them.  He and his like minded members of the cult of republiCON...of which Kathy Nicklaus is a proud card carrying member live by that rule...their way only no matter what is the only way.

    This is enough of a reason to suspect that although Ms. Nicklaus might have feigned gross incompetence...it might have been deliberate...or it might have been a shiny object.

    These republicons have been thinking of every angle, cheating and skirting the laws on the books to get their way, bullying members to "print" the bill and declaring victory after it's done. Defying court orders openly (defying congress hello kkKarl Rove defied congress and yet...still roaming the earth) Kathy might have been doing all sorts or chicanery for years, and may have been padding numbers for years...skewing vote. Or she may be the shiny object in that perhaps it's in other counties the numbers are weird (I read elsewhere that Milwaukee County was one area -an outlier- where Prosser overperformed considerably compared to all other counties or conversely where  Kloppenburg underperformed seriously- perhaps the Nicklaus was just shiny object was a distraction).  I know this sounds a bit toward ct but seriously, we need to wake up, this party doesn't play by the same rules as most people do...Too big to fail, too big to jail...the big lie--->too big to believe...

    This is what our country has turned into, they play for keeps, they lie, the cheat, they're ruthless, they're willing to use any means necessary (illegal or otherwise) to get their way, and they're proud of it...they are not going to change...nothing will change....if anything they've become bolder, badder, and more organized and ruthless....as they've infiltrated all levels of gov't....and most importantly they control the corporate media.

    Sorry for the long rant...it's been a long tough week..

    "When will the American teachers follow the lead of Wall Street and start making some sacrifices for the children"..Jon Stewart

    by emal on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:24:01 AM PDT

  •  How to steal an election (0+ / 0-)

    Let's say I'm a GOP person thinking about cooking the books, and I've worked a little bit with electorate modeling (as Kathy Nickolaus has). I'd know I could not simply add in the needed number of votes to a county after initial reporting. That county would have too large of a share of the electorate than expected. Instead I'd hold back some number of Dem votes close to the number of expected voters from some municipality. Then when I 'found' the missing votes (now more GOP) the first check based on % of the electorate would pass the small test, that would be reported by most people would be mollified.

    In that case, however, there would be fewer Dem votes in the initial reporting than expected. Let's compare Walker and Prosser % in the three reddest counties (Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha). In Washington county both Walker and Prosser got about the same 76%. In Ozaukee Walker did better than Prosser (76% to 72%). However, in Waukesha Prosser got 76% while Walker got 72%. hmmmm Is this plausible? Need for data and competent people to analyze to determine.

    •  Conspiracy Theories Are Always Fun To... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      dream about.  But yours doesn't make much sense.

      For your theory to be correct, she would have had to make a determination "before" the election that 7,500 additional votes would be just the right number to win the election.  And if she was wrong she would still have to admit the "human error" because the canvassing board would find the mistake during the official canvass.  And, she would have to add in 7,500 fraudulent votes in a way that could not be determined by investigators.  And, she would have to have one or more conspirators in the City of Brookfield.  Seems really doubtful that your theory is plausible.

      •  let's see (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        in the Trees

        I don't think she would have to determine that 7500 would be just the right number -- and, in fact, it isn't. She would just have to pick a number.

        And if the actual fraud was happening outside Brookfield, then that objection doesn't apply.

        The other objections seem pretty devastating to me. "Holding back" Democratic votes around the county entails either hacking all the scanners involved, or introducing discrepancies between their tally tapes and the official returns. The latter should be trivial to detect during the canvass. The former would be easy to detect via a hand recount, unless she also managed to tamper with thousands of ballots. But if she did have the ability to hack the scanners and then tamper with thousands of ballots, why would she choose to do it in such a spectacularly publicity-generating way?

    •  can we look at the ballots? (0+ / 0-)

      What kinds of evidence would you regard as worth considering here?

      I'll try to run a scatterplot to address your question about plausibility, but based on past experience, I'll hazard right now that four-point variations in vote share aren't especially anomalous. That's unfortunate.

      See my comment below. Kudos for trying to sketch a fraud scenario, but I'm still pretty puzzled about the details.

    •  Here's a little tidbit I find interesting (0+ / 0-)

      In Sheboygan County, there was a race for a County Court Circuit judge that was highly contested.

      The votes for the race were basically 50 - 50.

      And the total votes counted almost match (i.e. there weren't a lot of undervotes) the Supreme Court race in that county.

      Here's the link

      Article about the race

      But in Wausheka, that didn't happen.

      In fact, there were something like 17% (18189) more votes for the Supreme Court race (125,070) than there were for a highly contested County Court Circuit judge race (106,881).

      Possibility the 14K + votes in Waukesha have been added twice?

      Unofficial summary here

      Both are red counties.  In the same geographical corner of the state.

      And both had highly contested County Court Judge races.

      Article about the County Court Judge race in Waukesha

      "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

      by marigold on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 11:39:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  interesting, but... (0+ / 0-)

        You describe both the circuit judge contests as "highly contested," but the first one was actually competitive, whereas the second one doesn't appear to have been competitive at all. It isn't facially surprising that lots of people didn't bother to vote in the latter. But looking at some ballots could pretty quickly clarify whether the circuit court undervote rate in Waukesha Co was high or low.

        A canvass report includes vote counts for each candidate in each ED, ward, or ward combination. If you're suggesting that the canvass board might have added the votes for Brookfield city twice in just the Supreme Court contest, it's hard for me to imagine how that could happen except as some sort of twisted call for help. But, again, it should be pretty easy to check.

        I think it's valuable to look for things worth checking.

      •  Look at Dane County (0+ / 0-)

        10,000 more votes for SCt than for Dane County executive. Does this mean there was fraud in Dane?

  •  Count the votes at the polling place! (4+ / 0-)

    I've worked as a poll worker years ago in California when DRE's were just being introduced and they are terrible and an invitation to vote fraud. Most places that use paper ballots have all sorts of verification to do at the end of the night when the polls close. You compare the number of ballots with the number of people who signed to registration book, organize ballots by precinct, separate any mail-in that were dropped off. You do everything but actually count the votes right there and post the totals before the ballots leave the polling place. This is how it is done in most democracies around the world and it make a verifiable count right on up the line. If ballots are lost or destroyed, you still know what the count was before anybody could mess with it and the count can always be reconstructed. It's how Canada votes and it really doesn't take that long. When it comes to elections, hi-tech is bad, low-tech is good.

    I don't know if it would change what happened in WI but it would have prevented Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.

    Republicans don't want to govern, they want to rule.

    by madame damnable on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 07:48:33 AM PDT

    •  The Democrat On the County Canvassing Board... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark, Jake Johnson

      has been quoted as saying the numbers are correct.

      I agree that the numbers can be checked with very little trouble.  I have worked at polls before and in almost every case, both a Democrat and Republican watch the work being done.

      If people are concerned about the validity of their elections, the best time to speak up is BEFORE the election when procedures can be changed.

      •  She was relying on numbers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wiseacre, Jake Johnson

        verified by Ms. Nicklaus.

        Nobody saw Ms. Nicklaus input the tallies, or make the corrections.  There was no oversight of what she was doing.

        Further, she had staff to do this.  Why was she doing it?
        She is supposedly very well versed in sw ie not computer illiterate.

        And, the RW blogosphere was tipped off well before the GAB was notified just before the news conference(more than 29 hours later).

        That and her past history send up a myriad of red flags.

        Trust but verify, to quote what's his name.

        "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

        by marigold on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 09:47:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "the best time to speak up is BEFORE the election" (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, that. Not that there is nothing to be done now, but prevention >> cure.

        (In fairness, I don't know if the Democrat on the county canvassing board can really know whether the numbers are correct. But I think she can corroborate the county clerk's account of why the canvass results differ from the unofficial results, which I think is pretty important.)

    •  all the ways of counting votes... (0+ / 0-)

      Some votes were cast on DREs, but probably not very many (I haven't seen the numbers).

      What you say about reconciling ballot counts is true, and it tends to limit the scope of undetectable fraud.

      It's also true that especially in this special election, a full hand count could have done pretty quickly, if the jurisdiction were committed to running elections that way -- and, as far as I know, some towns in WI still do.

      I don't think hand counts would have had any appreciable effect on Ohio 2004. Florida 2000, very probably.

      •  Diebold is headquartered in Canton, OH (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        Most voting in OH is on their DREs. There is no way to reconstruct a vote total except by printing out again what the very hackable machine shows as votes cast. It is just a lie repeated.

        So as long as DREs are in use there is no way to insure election results.

        Republicans don't want to govern, they want to rule.

        by madame damnable on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 11:07:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  most voting in OH is not on Diebold DREs (0+ / 0-)

          It's up to about 40% now, whereas in 2004 I don't think there were any Diebold DREs in the state.

          By state law, every DRE in Ohio is equipped with voter-verifiable paper audit trails. This is not a brilliant solution, as I said in the diary, and I would rather see DREs abandoned entirely (unless someone can come up with a much better verification approach). But if even some voters check that the VVPATs correspond with the votes they intended to cast, that at least provides some basis for election verification.

  •  Your position reasonable until... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wiseacre

    ...it is all seen as a whole. Atomize the arguments and possibilities, and each is plausible. Aggregate them, and throw in the history of problems with this particular clerk, and the odds of this being an accurate vote count with a believable explanation get very, very thin.

    More to come, certainly, and I am not much of a conspiracy theory fan, but this one bothers me.

    Having an Ideology is not the same as Having Ideas.

    by Mark Throckmorton on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 09:15:39 AM PDT

    •  ? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm bothered too, or I wouldn't bother to pay attention to it.

      I cannot tell what you are actually saying about the "arguments and possibilities." On one side, there is Nickolaus's assertion that the unofficial results didn't include Brookfield city; as far as I can tell, all the evidence is consistent with that. On the other side, there is what exactly? And how would we know whether that other thing happened?

      •  The problem is (0+ / 0-)

        Nickolaus has little or no credibility because of her history and the time line of events here.

        How do we know?  How do we not know?

        Until there is verification, the results are suspect; elections have to be seen to be fair.

        This one smells.

        "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

        by marigold on Sat Apr 09, 2011 at 10:53:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  how do we know? (0+ / 0-)

          Facially, we know because all the results have been canvassed, and because the difference between the unofficial results and the official results is accounted for by the Brookfield city results (which are independently and previously attested by the Brookfield city clerk) plus two much smaller discrepancies.

          It seems to me that the question isn't how much credibility Nickolaus has. The question is, if the canvass doesn't count as evidence that the election result is accurate -- or isn't sufficient evidence -- then what do we need, and how can we get it (if we can)?

          I certainly don't think the canvass is conclusive on its own. (In principle, someone could have rigged the scanners, and then we probably wouldn't be talking about this at all.) But a lot of people seem to be proceeding as if the existence of discrepant unofficial results invalidates the canvass altogether, and I don't see the rationale for that.

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