UPDATE 5/23/11 10:50 CDT: It's officially official, now. The difference was 7,004 votes.
From the GAB Press Release:
The Board’s certification notes that Justice Prosser received a total of 752,694 votes and that JoAnne F. Kloppenburg received 745,690 votes, a difference of 7,004 votes, or 0.46%. A total of 1,729 write-in votes were cast for other individuals....
Director and General Counsel Kevin J. Kennedy noted that the county canvassing boards discovered and corrected errors made in counting ballots on Election Night and during the original county canvass process. “As expected, the recount process identified issues to address and procedures which can be improved, Kennedy said. “Each of the 1,500,130 ballots was reviewed during the recount to determine the correct results. Both candidates were able to raise questions and challenge ballots in a completely open and transparent manner...."
Elections Division Administrator Nathaniel E. Robinson said the Board intends to conduct a review of the recount process and issues which arose to assess areas for future improvement. “The recount served the dual purpose of verifying correct vote totals for the candidates and public, as well as providing an opportunity for state and local election officials to evaluate procedures for conducting elections and canvassing results,” Robinson said.
It's officially unofficial. David Prosser wins by 7,004 votes over Joanne Kloppenburg and retains his seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He's probably at the governor's reception desk right now picking up souvenir pens for his supporters.
From the Government Accountability Board's web site:
As of 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20, 2011, all 3,602 Reporting Units have reported results, which have been reviewed by G.A.B. staff. That is 100% of all Reporting Units.
In total the counties have recounted 1,500,130 votes, which is 1,250 more than the 1,498,880 votes originally cast.
This is the final update. There will be no more postings until after 9:00 a.m. the morning of Monday, May 23, 2011 when the unofficial recount results are replaced with the Official Ward by Ward Certified Results.
After the certified results are posted, Joanne Kloppenburg has five business days to appeal the recount results to the courts. I've heard that even if she doesn't appeal, she plans to submit a document to the GAB pointing out the many election system flaws discovered by her team during the recount.
Another guess: The director of the GAB, Kevin Kennedy, will say "Thank you, JoAnne," then drop her report into the circular file.
That would be a shame. I think David Prosser won the election, but I will never be certain. Reading through the minutes from the many county canvass boards, it is truly disappointing to read about the many errors made by elections officials. There were way too many instances of bags not being sealed properly, serial numbers from the seals not being recorded on the official inspectors statements, and ballots not being initialed properly before being given to voters.
There were 3 notations I found (there may be more) where the paper for the electronic voting machine was put in backwards, leaving a blank or incomplete audit tape (the machine did count the votes. I think.)
During the recount, at least 2 counties were ordered to reconvene to reconsider ballots they had rejected - ballots bearing no initials from elections inspectors. The GAB instructed them that they were to count those votes. If the machine says there were 124 votes, then you better find and count 124 votes. The machine knows all.
Stories of ballots being transported by the county highway department or ballots being stored in the town hall kitchen are cute and folksy, in a way, but they also show utter carelessness.
I learned from this recount that it would not be difficult for a team of only two people to tamper with ballots in most counties in Wisconsin, especially since the safeguards for securing election materials are often ignored or misunderstood.
The GAB has made it clear that securely storing ballots and documenting their chain of custody is a legal requirement, but votes that aren't properly stored or documented are counted anyway, so what's the point? There is no penalty or disciplinary action that will be taken against county or municipal clerks who failed to follow the guidelines.
The GAB is reponsible for training local elections officials. They have failed.
Tomorrow, the GAB will certify the election results, but they will not erase my doubts. The GAB made it clear from the beginning that they did not believe any county or municipal clerk would ever do anything illegal to jeopardize their reputation. They found no illegal activity, just like they planned.
Between the incompetence and untrustworthiness of some of our elected clerks and the adoption of the nation's strictest Voter ID/Voter Suppression bill, Wisconsin has completely lost its reputation as a clean-government state.
Did you hear me GAB? It doesn't matter that the recount only changed the difference by 310 votes. Your propaganda campaign to save your reputation and the state's reputation failed. From now on, when people think of Wisconsin elections, they will think of the 14,000 lost-and-found ballots from Waukesha County that were hidden for 28 hours by Kathy Nickolaus.
Good old Waukesha County. If ballots were tampered with in Waukesha County, there was nobody on their board of canvassers who was willing or able to discover it. From the very beginning, their mission was obviously not to recount the votes, it was to match their original numbers and protect Nickolaus while she hid in her office.
Am I discouraged? Hell no. Kloppenburg was projected to lose by 350,000 votes. She lost by 7,004. I'm proud of the fact that we came within a few thousand votes of closing a 30-point deficit in the Supreme Court race in only a few weeks. Anybody who thinks that didn't send a message to Scott Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers hasn't been paying attention.
Did I think the recount would change the outcome of the election? Not really, but the recount further exposed the flaws in our election systems. They are many, despite what the GAB will claim in the next few days. It was worth it.
We are going to make things right. We are going to retake the Senate in the recall elections this summer. We are going to recall Scott Walker and tear down the wall that Walker has erected around our Capitol. We are going to repeal that atrocious Voter ID bill. We are going to clean house.
And I have a feeling that JoAnne Kloppenburg will be appointed or elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court some day. She proved something. She's tough and fair. She's got the right stuff.