Thursday, April 21, 2011

"If there is doubt, we must remove it."

JoAnne Kloppenburg
That, in a nutshell, is what this recount is all about. That is the main reason JoAnne Kloppenburg gives for requesting it. She is not saying she won; she is not saying she thinks she did and therefore wants a new tally to prove it. She is saying that the integrity of this Wisconsin election (and therefore previous elections that are now under a cloud of doubt) must be verified by a careful ballot-by-ballot recount - preferably by hand, the most foolproof method of establishing an accurate count.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does not agree. Once again, our local paper proves unable to grasp the magnitude of what is going on in Wisconsin and all around the country where similar aggression against democratic rights is underway on the part of the newly emergent rightist, increasingly anti-democratic, Repub party.

What is it about this election that they don't want to know? Why do they think Waukesha County Clerk Kathleen Nickolaus keeps vote tallies hidden away on her private computer at home, and let's no one else have access to it? Why do they think that the 2006 election result in Waukesha County shows a higher vote count for specific races than the overall total for the entire election (check out this link folks, you won't believe just how funny these funny numbers are!!)? What is she doing, and don't we want to know? Shouldn't she lose her job immediately over this - like air traffic controllers asleep at the job? Aren't our lives and the well-being of our state at stake here?

Let's remind ourselves of the issues around this suspect county clerk. In sum, from the Buzzflash blog:
As the [Madison] Cap Times and other Wisconsin outlets have noted, Nickolaus kept election results on her personal computer, even though she had been formally warned not to do so. She was given immunity from prosecution in 2002 for campaigning for Republicans on taxpayer's time. Furthermore, as the CapTimes notes, Nickolaus is "a former Republican legislative staffer who worked for Prosser when he served as Assembly speaker and with Gov. Scott Walker when he was a GOP rising star." [emphasis added]

I mean, any issues here that we think ought to be investigated?

But Waukesha is not the only place where problems with vote tallies surfaced; it's only apparently the most egregious. We need to find out the extent to which polling problems exist in this state, and which of them are products of human error or incompetence, and which are products of outright fraud.

I hear a lot of complaints from the right about voter fraud, and they are using that old canard in efforts to suppress voting rights - targeting African-Americans, students, elderly, citizen immigrants, and other groups who tend not to vote Repub. Investigations show this to be a false issue, that the problem does not really exist. But far greater threats of fraudulent practices have emerged ever since the arrival of computer tallies, not least of which is the ease with which vote counts can be tainted by a little hacking here, a bit of data manipulation there - which is why we favor a hand recount of every ballot cast in the state.

If Prosser is such a great champion of the state Constitution, such a disinterested Supreme Court Justice, he should tell his campaign to stop the shrill rhetoric aimed at Kloppenburg and embrace fully this effort to weed out any tainted vote counts or procedures. He should call for the impounding of Nickolaus' computer, and a thorough audit of her methods, by outside federal investigators. Otherwise, we must ask ourselves just what it is these people have to hide.

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