Fifty-six days after the official Supreme Court election came to a close, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg conceded the seat to incumbent Justice David Prosser Tuesday.
During a press conference Tuesday, Kloppenburg said she called Prosser earlier in the day to inform him she would not pursue legal action on the recount results and to give her congratulations on his victory.
“It would serve no purpose to bring a suit with insufficient legal basis,” Kloppenburg said during the conference. “That is not the kind of lawyer I am.”
According to the Government Accountability Board, Prosser was certified as the winning candidate last week by a margin of 7,004 votes.
Although concerns about using taxpayer dollars to fund the recount process and questions surrounding the overall cost of the process have been raised, the GAB does not have any cost figures because clerks from individual counties are not required to report their expenses to the board, spokesperson Reid Magney said.
Kloppenburg said she remains uncertain of the cost, admitting whether or not the process could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars remains unseen.
Still, Kloppenburg said despite the potential for high costs, the decision to request a recount was valuable to the state because she said it brought light to problems with the state’s electoral system.
Despite the lack of change in result, Kloppenburg said she primarily took issue with insufficient training and systematic discrepancies that volunteers and clerks face.
“We need resources on the back end to make sure that all the irregularities and anomalies are addressed,” she said.
Waukesha County endured close scrutiny after a large shift from the originally announced unofficial election results, which gave Prosser a sufficient lead over Kloppenburg.
Although Kloppenburg is ending the official investigation into the results of the Supreme Court race, she said the controversy surrounding the Waukesha results demonstrate a need for further attention.
“Over 150 ballot bags containing tens of thousands of votes were found opened, unsealed or torn,” Kloppenburg said. ” Waukesha County had twice as many torn, open or unsealed bags as every other county in the state combined.”
Ballot bags do occasionally rip or become opened, University of Wisconsin political science pofessor Barry Burden said. Still, he said the unprecedented occurrences in Waukesha County deserved additional attention.
Burden also said back end election resources should be improved.
“[The state should] use the millions of dollars being spent on voter ID over the next few years on clerk training, equipment and public education,” he said.