WAUKESHA, Wisc. (CN) – Waukesha County, whose clerk claimed she had “inadvertently not saved” some election returns in the cliffhanger race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, has requested an extension to complete its hand-recount.
The county told the Government Accountability Board that by late Wednesday it had recounted just 20,836 of the more than 124,000 votes cast.
The fate of Wisconsin’s controversial anti-union law could hang on the race between incumbent Justice David Prosser, a Republican, and his opponent, assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Right-leaning justices hold a 4-3 margin on the state supreme court.
Kloppenburg, a Democrat, was leading by the narrowest of margins on election night, until Kathy Nickolaus, the clerk in heavily Republican Waukesha County, announced she had neglected to count 14,000 votes. That apparently threw the election to Prosser. Kloppenburg then requested a recount.
The race for the Supreme Court seat is nominally nonpartisan, though the two candidates generally reflected the views of the major parties.
Prosser promised in 2010 “to act as ‘complement’ to [Gov. Scott] Walker,” whose bill clamping down on public employee unions, and the legislative tricks used to enact it, set off a political furor in Wisconsin.
Volunteers in Waukesha County have been recounting ballots for several hours a day for seven days and plan to move to a larger room next week. There they will have twice the number of tabulators and will be able to work on multiple reporting units simultaneously, according to the May 4 letter from Waukesha County Board of Canvassers Chairman Robert Mawdsley to the Government Accountability Board.
“Waukesha County has a significant number of observers in this process and is under more scrutiny than any other county,” Mawdsley wrote. “It is time-consuming to provide explanations for any discrepancy, make a sufficient record, and to answer questions posed by representatives from both candidates.”
Mawdsley wrote that the county’s “change in location and procedures” will begin in Monday, May 9.