December 19, 2014

Waukesha County clerk under fire again

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has agreed to let someone else handle vote reporting for upcoming recall elections, after another problem-plagued Election Night in her office.

After vote counting system failed during Tuesday night’s spring election, causing long delays in results being posted, County Executive Dan Vrakas says he gave her the option of either resigning or designating the deputy clerk to run the upcoming recall election. Vrakas says Nickolaus has decided to step aside for now so that voter confidence can be restored.

Vrakas says she has also agreed to let outside consultants and county staff work side-by-side with the deputy clerk to help restore confidence in the election process. He says “the County will move swiftly to examine the election night procedures in the County Clerk’s Office and make changes as necessary to restore public’s confidence in our elections.”

It was last spring when Nickolaus failed to include Brookfield’s 14,000 votes when she was adding up Waukesha County’s results in the State Supreme Court race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. When she revealed the error two days after the election, a 200 vote margin that had given Kloppenburg a win turned in to a 7,000 vote lead for Prosser. The mistake fueled a statewide recount of the results that eventually confirmed Prosser’s win.

The state Government Accountability Board reviewed the practices in Nickolaus’ office after the counting error and pushed her to start disclosing results from each voting district on Election Night, something she had refused to do before. Problems with the new system she put in place to do that during Tuesday’s election resulted in a six hour delay in results being posted, renewing concerns about confidence in Waukesha County results.

Had Nickolaus not agreed to step aside during the upcoming recall, Vrakas says he would have publicly called for her resignation.