May 9, 2011

Brookfield's bursting bags-o-ballots bingo

She thinks we are all idiots. — MJS reader comment
Here they are, the famous votes of City of Brookfield, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, those 14,000 or so not included in the running Associated Press totals posted on election night, Tuesday, April 5.*
The results were four votes off compared to the final canvass, which included a total of 14,315 votes. Official canvass for Brookfield: Prosser, 10,859; Kloppenburg, 3,456. Numbers from the recount: Prosser, 10,862; Kloppenburg, 3,457.
These are the votes that Kloppenburg tried to prevent from being counted (which is puzzling as how else are you going to check the canvassed figures, or check the canvassed figures against the figures reported to the Associated Press to make sure if everybody's story squares up). Because it's a decount, obviously, and the only way Kloppenburg can hope to make up anywhere near 7,000 votes is to keep Prosser's votes from being counted, because there's not going to be any extra Kloppenburg votes. Not enough people voted for her.

So you have to decount and not recount, the inglorious approach.

The Kloppenburg objections, it has been reported, arose when it was discovered that so many Brookfieldians voted for Prosser, sacks stuffed with ballots were literally bursting at the seams. Brad Blog composed a 9K-word theorem and a D-Kos diarist had to be sedated.

Nevertheless the ballots were adjudged fit to be re- and not de-counted, and four additional ones were discovered among the 14,000-plus. Statistically notable is that 75% of them were Prosser's, which matches his score throughout the county: 74%. Not an exact match but close enough for government work, as the apt saying goes.

That is, a tiny sample but remarkably accurate, it turns out.

Lord only knows where the darkest of suspicions fomented or, more to the point, where those darkest suspicions persisted unabated by the considerably more parsimonious explanation of gross ineptitude on the part of the top ranking Waukesha County elections official.

When a tearful Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus appeared on a local Journal Communications, Inc. teevee outlet, we believed her d-Based tale of "human error" not out of heartfelt empathy but because she'd pulled likewise egregious stunts so many times before.

And when Kloppenburg's campaign manager Melissa Mulliken filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board alleging — with nary a scintilla of evidence — a late night meeting between Justice Prosser and Governor Scott Walker and conspiracies involving "conservative bloggers," the jig was up, and only the most credulous of the foil-hatted imagined voting fraud instead of voting farce.

So next time eschew the Roundy's ballot bags for the brand name.**

* The individual City of Brookfield tally was reported by a different WaukCo. election official to a different, local internets reporter, so the bags-o-ballots always existed, and always had been cast. They weren't stuffed into or out of the bags days after the April 5 fact.

** Roundy's aluminum foil remains on the approved vendors list, and works as well as any other to repel the brain-controlling mindwaves.


gnarlytrombone said...

Roundy's aluminum foil remains on the approved vendors list

[Inside joke]

Publius No. 9 said...

It appears as though everything is kosher, but the problem is the way this recount was conducted. Most votes are being counted by throwing them through the same machines that originally counted the votes, and no one has explained any issue from why election software can lose votes to why ballot bags are left so insecurely.

I don't see how we are getting any confirmation that things are on the up and up.

I was hoping for a lot more clarity, but there isn't a single person who can say that all of the vote counts are correct. That's what we're supposed to get from a recount.

The only "decount" I'm looking for, and I believe Kloppenburg is looking for, is a decount of invalid votes. The suspicion can't be denied, because no one has shown it couldn't have been done.

illusory tenant said...

I would say that from a legal perspective any argument that the ballots themselves are invalid on account of the physical integrity of the bags containing those votes has no legs. If we're pursuing the truth, we count those ballots and check them against prior tallies, we don't attempt to have them thrown out. IMHO.

Publius No. 9 said...

I don't see a problem with counting all of the votes as long as we can prove they were all legitimately cast (i.e. by a registered voter). I think this is normal procedure (count first, ask questions later), and if the Kloppenburg campaign wishes to object, they can when the entire recount is finished.

I'm unclear as to whether those ballots were inspected for legitimacy before they were recounted, making just about any objection toothless.

I'm intrigued by your statement that the ballot bags aren't a legal issue. I'm willing to accept that argument, but I'm unclear as to why there would be no legal doubt. Could you explain a little further?

I sure don't like unsealed ballot bags and sure would like to know exactly how that happens and what we're doing to stop that. I don't understand why the people who are supposed to be explaining these things to us continue to refuse to.

Publius No. 9 said...

Nevermind my question, I got it. Yes, issues with ballot bags don't themselves invalidate the votes inside. However, if the votes inside aren't verified to have been cast by actual registered voters, then the issues warrant that verification.

So, I guess my next step in that regard is to determine the amount of verification that normally occurs during the recount process.

I assume that if someone doesn't come out and say, "Yes there were issues, but this is how we verified them to be correct," then the issues weren't properly resolved. There's no reason they can't quickly address the issues for the public's confidence, especially given all of the suspicions.

illusory tenant said...

That, and the fact that the burden is on the complainant to show evidence of "fraud" (for lack of a better word) not on election officials to show that there wasn't fraud. I'd wager there are similarly uncinched bags all over the State. That Kloppenburg is only going after these ones is a lamentably transparent stragety and as a matter of fact even if she was going after them all, it's these ones that would be emphasized by the press and in turn the right-wing shouting. And again I'm not objecting to the scrutiny of the process per se, I'm objecting to the tin-eared politicking by the Kloppenburg camp. It's been a textbook lesson in how not to choose your battles wisely.

Publius No. 9 said...

I agree completely that the Kloppenburg campaign is horrible at playing the perception game. Part of the problem seems to be that there isn't enough information to properly pinpoint issues. So when Kloppenburg asked for a recount, they threw in the kitchen sink hoping something would stick. That probably wasn't the smartest approach.

However, I don't blame them for it. I think I may smell something fishy, but I don't have enough information to say one way or another. The one thing I do know is that we haven't accounted for issues with the vote counting machines, and that's where the real problems lie.