After announcing she would request a statewide recount in the Supreme Court election earlier this week, challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent Justice David Prosser argued in court Thursday to reach a decision as to how the recount would be done.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Ness approved a recount procedure that would include a hand recount in 31 counties and allow for electronic voting equipment for the rest of Wisconsin.
Since declaring victory in the race Monday, Prosser’s campaign has been outspoken against having a recount. But Kloppenburg’s campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said she agreed with the judge’s decision.
“We’re pleased the issue was resolved so quickly and believe it is a good outcome,” Mulliken said. “I don’t think any data has been or will be destroyed.”
The Government Accountability Board, responsible for overseeing elections in Wisconsin, filed a petition Thursday morning with the circuit court to determine whether voting data in counties using electronic polling devices would have to be destroyed. The automated equipment saved voting data onto memory sticks, which Wisconsin law says cannot be erased until after a recount is finished.
However, in order for recount officials to store recount polling data, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said the memory sticks would have to be reused but not before they were erased first.
A judge can grant permission to erase the memory sticks, but Ness instead allowed a hand recount to be done in those 31 counties that used Optech Eagle machines.
The other 41 county recounts can be done using their existing electronic tabulating machines because those machines have replacement memory sticks available or have a different storage device all together, Mulliken said.
Kloppenburg first announced she would request a recount Wednesday. That same day she also said she would be asking the GAB to appoint an independent investigator to take another look into the Waukesha County clerk, who discovered 14,000 votes from her county went uncounted.
“The Government Accountability Board should hire an independent investigator to conduct an investigation because the Government Accountability Board worked closely with clerks on a day to day basis, and that relationship, though appropriate, compromises the board’s ability to conduct an investigation,” Mulliken said.
In a letter sent to the GAB Wednesday concerning the request for an independent investigator, Kloppenburg’s attorney Susan Crawford said there was correspondence between GAB investigators and Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus that amounted to an “alliance.”
One email, Crawford wrote in the letter, showed a GAB election specialist “expressing his support and appreciation for Ms. Nickolaus.”
Another item listed in the complaint alleged Prosser met with Gov. Scott Walker the night after the election for a one-on-one meeting.
The GAB released a statement from director Kevin Kennedy addressing Kloppenburg’s criticisms of their process and refusing to step aside in the investigation.
“With respect to the public statements about our impartiality, it is the statutory responsibility of this agency to conduct these operations,” Kennedy said in the statement. “We are authorized to employ outside investigators, but they work under our direction.”
The Prosser campaign could not be reached for comment.
The original headline for the article stated the GAB denied Kloppenburg’s request for a private investigator, when it should have said independent investigator.