Last September, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board concluded that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus had indeed violated state law by failing to report 14,000 ballots from Brookfield on election night April 5, 2011 for the Supreme Court race between David Prosser and Joanne Kloppenburg. GAB Board Chair Thomas H. Barland stated, “This action has significantly undermined public confidence in the conduct of elections in Wisconsin and Waukesha County. As a result, state and local election officials, and you in particular, will have to regain the trust of the Wisconsin electorate in the administration of elections in Wisconsin and Waukesha County.”
Despite breaking the law, Nickolaus was not charged, and not even punished. According to Dane County prosecutor Timothy Verhoff, who investigated the incident, Nickolaus’ crime was deemed an “honest mistake” and she walked away with a little more than a hand slap.
Nickolaus arrived in Waukesha already shrouded in scandal. Having been an aide to Prosser during his Republican years in the Assembly (1989-1996), Nickolaus was granted immunity to testify about her role as a computer analyst for the Assembly Republican Caucus, then under investigation for using state resources to secretly run campaigns. In 2002, Republican lawmakers Steven Foti, Scott Jensen and Bonnie Ladwig, as well as aide Sherry Schultz were criminally charged and later convicted in connection to using state resources to run political campaigns, similar to the charges involved in the current John Doe investigation.
After the September 2011 hand-slap and her promise to straighten up, Nickolaus tanked again during the April 3, 2012 primaries. Claiming her software did not work, Nickolaus had poll workers tape vote tapes to the wall and perform manual counts. She even recruited the help of local reporters. This again delayed results until the following day, again breaking the law. Following the release of Waukesha’s results, Republican Mitt Romney’s lead rose from five to seven points.
Several days later, County Executive Dan Vrakas demanded that Nickolaus either resign or turn the elections over to the deputy clerk. At that time, Vrakas reported that Nickolaus opted to give her election duties over Deputy Clerk Kelly Yeager and restrict herself to the other duties her position requires.
However, on April 28, Nickolaus issued a statement saying that she would not be giving up any of her responsibilities for overseeing the upcoming recall elections but would also not seek reelection in the fall. “Residents of Waukesha County and the state of Wisconsin should know that election integrity has always been my primary focus,” Nickolaus said.
In lieu of these disturbing events, and with Nickolaus claiming she will be at the helm for Tuesday’s primary, perhaps it’s time to revisit the Supreme Court recount. Despite a common misconception that the recount investigated possible election fraud, it did not. Much evidence of fraud was uncovered, but was ignored by GAB Director Kevin Kennedy. It is quite likely what you see below was never shown to the full Board after the recount, before it decided that Prosser won.
The level of possible election fraud found by those who participated in the recount deserves to be revisited. It is vital to understand that Kathy Nickolaus did far more than simply fail to post Brookfield’s results for the Supreme Court election, the most widely reported of her mistakes. The recount uncovered over 800 anomalies and breaks in the chains of custody. Nickolaus has been portrayed as an inept but well-meaning county clerk, but the magnitude of evidence of election tampering suggests that Nickolaus’ previous association with political activities may not have ended with the caucus scandal.
We may never get a chance to legally revisit the evidence of election fraud that was swept under the rug by Kennedy last Spring. But we can surely participate in our own election review process and observe our polls after closing time to see where and how our ballots are handled.
After the unconstitutional Voter ID bill being struck down, and redistricting partially dismantled, be prepared for yet another Nickolaus gaffe. Call County Executive Daniel Vrakas. Email him a link to this article and demand Nickolaus step aside. Better yet, call Nickolaus herself and tell her to step down. She’s done enough.
Since she seems to be permanently immune to being accountable for her mistakes, it’s time for us to take charge.