Time to move past Supreme Court election flap

2011-05-24T07:00:00Z 2011-05-24T18:06:06Z Time to move past Supreme Court election flapA Wisconsin State Journal editorial madison.com

A careful and lengthy recount of all 1,500,130 ballots cast in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election April 5 is over.

The Government Accountability Board certified Monday that Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by more than 7,000 votes — only a few hundred less than what the original canvas suggested.

It's time to move on.

Kloppenburg should gracefully concede defeat rather than stubbornly dragging a lost cause into court. 

State law entitled Kloppenburg to ask for a recount because she lost by less than one-half percent of all ballots cast. The recount helped reassure the public that the results were legitimate, following a stunning clerical mistake in Waukesha County.

Kloppenburg originally thought she held an incredibly narrow lead of 204 votes over Prosser on election night. That was based on a preliminary tally by the Associated Press.

But two days later, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced she had failed to include votes from the city of Brookfield in her unofficial count for the AP. Brookfield heavily favored Prosser, giving him a more than 7,000-vote advantage.

The subsequent statewide recount was conducted under intense scrutiny, with representatives from both campaigns watching over the shoulders of election workers in Waukesha County and elsewhere. 

Significantly, Nickolaus didn't participate in her county's recount. Instead, retired Judge Robert G. Mawdsley and retired state elections expert Barbara Hansen led the effort, using a court reporter to document evidence.

The recount cost local governments some money to complete. But state election officials say the meticulous process will lead to better training and fewer mistakes in the future.

Only 23 out of more than 3,600 precincts across the state experienced a variation of more than 10 votes during the recount, according to the GAB, which followed up with the 23 to determine what went wrong.

Kloppenburg was justified in asking election officials to double-check their original canvas. Now that they have, Kloppenburg should accept that she lost the race, narrowly yet conclusively.

Editor's note: Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg was entitled to a statewide recount at public expense because she lost the April 5 election by less than one-half of 1 percent of all ballots cast. This editorial incorrectly described the threshold.

Copyright 2014 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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