So, on Monday I saw this great diary by yourguide about irregularities in Waukesha county going back to 2004. Among irregularities including 96% turnout in Waukesha (holy voting pride, batman!) I noticed a gem in that diary about the Nov 2006 election votes exceeding the total ballots reported, and I knew that it needed to be highlighted so I started this diary on Monday.
Waukesha county lists 156k ballots cast, but more than 176k for Governor and 174k for Attorney General (a race that Walker-lackey Van Hollen won by only 8859 votes statewide). Well by Tuesday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had picked up on the story and asked Kathy Nickolaus for comment. On Tuesday, Kathy claims: Oops! Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement!
*The Number of Ballots Cast do not reflect all results, only those electronically sent.
(Ballots cast will not be equal to official votes cast)
That was added on Tuesday to the Waukesha county elections website. Obviously, ballots totals Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement. There's an asterisk up there now, see!
After some ridicule about that initial update from her office, Kathy Nickolaus had to re-clarify things on the Waukesha county elections website. Now at the top of the page:
What does Ballot Cast mean in the summary reports?
Ballot Cast is the number of ballots that were fed through the election machines at the polling places and the results were collected using a modem in the office. It does NOT include any hand entered results.
Number of Votes in a particular contest or race is the number of votes certified after canvassing. The results collected using a modem and any results hand entered in the office on election night.
Why would the ballots cast be higher than the number of people that voted in a specific contest or race?
The ballots cast are not adjusted when a person doesn’t vote for that contest, a person votes for too many people in that contest, a person sends through a blank ballot, or when a person writes in a statement instead of a name and is not counted as a vote in the scattering section.
Why would the ballots cast be lower than the number of people that voted in a specific contest or race?
The ballots cast would be lower if a portion of the results were entered by hand.
How can the percentage of turnout be so high?
Waukesha County is known for higher than State average turnout. In addition the turnout is calculated using the number of registered voters, prior to Election Day. As Wisconsin allows for Election Day registration the turnout number would be skewed dependent on the number of people that registered Election Day.
Naturally, I was skeptical.
Elections without asterisks, where votes do NOT exceed ballots
There are elections listed which have ballot totals, but the amount of votes DO NOT EXCEED the total number of ballots. These included EVERY election for 2003 through 2005. Every single election listed for those years (10 of them) has a total number of ballots listed, and it is never eclipsed by the total number of votes for any given candidate. Anyone know exactly what date Kathy Nickolaus started her job as Waukesha county clerk?
April 4, 2006 election
This is one of the asterisk'd elections, but no election data is provided for the April 4, 2006 election. The election data file for the April 3, 2007 election was renamed to: http://www.waukeshacounty.gov/...
and then uploaded as the linked page for the April 4, 2006 election. So the April 3, 2007 election data is shown for both elections.
Where's the election data for April 4, 2006 from Waukesha county? Likely an honest mistake in uploading the wrong file, but yet another sign of incompetence at the very least.
From 2006 on, Waukesha county stops listing ballot totals in results
As noted above, every election prior to 2006 lists the ballot totals. But in 2006, the results from Waukesha county stopped including those ballot totals in every election and merely show total votes now, with exceptions for 3 elections (Nov'06, Apr'07, Feb'10).
Why was the procedure changed in 2006 to no longer include ballot totals in every election's data, and who changed the procedure? What criteria did the Nov '06, Apr '07, and Feb '10 elections meet that allowed the ballot totals to be included on them, but not for every other election from 2006 onwards?
Now, of those 3 exceptions, only one had votes that exceeded the ballots: the Nov 2006 Attorney General's race. The is the ONLY election from Waukesha county that has this glaring discrepancy.
8 asterisk'd elections, but only one has ballot totals
I noticed that Kathy put asterisks next to elections which DID NOT REPORT BALLOT TOTALS.
Why would she put a footnote to indicate that the vote totals may exceed the ballot totals on election results that don't even show ballot totals?
She put asterisks next to 8 election results, but only 1 of those elections have ballot totals listed (Nov '06 AG race), making the footnote unneeded for the other 7 election results (note: April 4, 2006 has an *, but mistakenly shows the April 2007 data as noted earlier so this one is still up in the air).
What's the significance of the asterisks next to those other 7 elections? It's 7 elections where Kathy Nickolaus did not report ballot totals despite the normal procedure before 2006 of always reporting the ballot totals in every election. The 7 extra asterisks, in my opinion, are a case of "Where there's smoke, there's fire."
Her explanation for why the votes exceed the ballots is because the number of ballots doesn't include all the ballots that the optical scanners can't read: a person votes for too many people in that contest, a person sends through a blank ballot, or enters a write-in. These are then counted by hand, but not reflected in the ballot total – or so she claims.
But this makes no sense either, because as I've shown, there's TWELVE (12!!!) elections in which votes do not exceed ballot totals. Every single one of those elections, presumably, would have these type of ballots that were not machine-readable and had to be hand-counted. And yet, in those 12 elections, all the hand-counted ballots WERE included in the total number of ballots.
There's only ONE election where there were somehow 17,243 ballots in Waukesha county that needed to be hand-counted, and then NOT included in the ballot totals as in previous and subsequent years. It was the November 2006 election for Attorney General, where Walker's guy Van Hollen won statewide by only 8,859 votes.
State investigating vote irregularities in Waukesha County going back 5 years
from the Wisconsin State Journal
And an excellent analysis by The Brad Blog