The latest vote count in the state Supreme Court race in Winnebago County indicates incumbent David Prosser is leading Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in votes.
A tally compiled by The Associated Press Wednesday and used by news organizations statewide, including the Journal Sentinel, indicated Kloppenburg was leading the race by 204 votes. Figures on Winnebago County's website are now different from those collected by the AP.
Winnebago County's numbers say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg's 18,887. The AP has 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg's 18,421.
The new numbers would give Prosser 244 more votes or a 40-vote lead statewide.
Democratic state senator Lena Taylor is already implying that there's something nefarious about the correction. "254 ballots NOT counted for Prosser "found" in clerks office in winnebago county- puts him up by 50," she tweets. But final vote tallies often change during the days following an election due to numbers being misreported. That's why state election officials are now conducting the "canvas" of the vote--i.e. double-checking to make sure that all the vote totals correspond with votes cast.
During the 2008 Minnesota Senate recount, Senator Coleman's lead over Al Franken shrunk from 725 votes the morning after the election to 215 votes when the vote tally was certified prior to the recount.
Some conservatives alleged that these "found" votes were signs of voter fraud, but it was actually fairly easy to show that these changes were almost certainly corrections of honest mistakes. As I wrote in THE WEEKLY STANDARD back then:
While the Coleman campaign hasn't pushed any such clear falsehoods, some of their complaints about the integrity of the vote count are unfounded. For example, Coleman's lead shrunk from 725 votes the morning after the election all the way down to 215 votes when the results were certified after county election officials rechecked their unofficial vote totals for errors. Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan attributed the narrowing vote gap to "statistically dubious and improbable shifts." And a Wall Street Journal editorial declared it odd that in one liberal precinct in the town of Two Harbors "Franken picked up an additional 246 votes. In Partridge Township, he racked up another 100."
But in the Two Harbors precinct, the vote tally in the presidential race was 336 for Barack Obama and 175 for John McCain. Norm Coleman's total was 175, and the count for the independent candidate Dean Barkley was 74. Without the correction, Franken's tally would have been 27 votes--unbelievably low for a Democratic precinct. The original numbers in Partridge Township were also obviously a result of error. Though suspicions were raised before Election Day when it was reported that the leftwing advocacy group ACORN had registered 43,000 new voters in Minnesota, no evidence of serious voting irregularities has yet emerged anywhere in the state.
The point is that before liberals allege voter fraud this time, they should check the plausibility of the numbers by comparing the results now to the results in those precincts from previous elections. And that goes for conservatives too, should the lead swing back to Kloppenburg during the canvas.
UPDATE: The vote has been seesawing back and forth today as officials double-check their numbers, and now there's some big news out of Waukesha. Christian Schneider reports:
After Tuesday night’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a computer error in heavily Republican Waukesha County failed to send election results for the entire City of Brookfield to the Associated Press. The error, revealed today, would give incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser a net 7,381 votes against his challenger, attorney Joanne Kloppenburg. On Wednesday, Kloppenburg declared victory after the AP reported she finished the election with a 204-vote lead, out of nearly 1.5 million votes cast.
On election night, AP results showed a turnout of 110,000 voters in Waukesha County — well short of the 180,000 voters that turned out last November, and 42 percent of the county’s total turnout. By comparison, nearly 90 percent of Dane County voters who cast a ballot in November turned out to vote for Kloppenburg.
Prior to the election, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was heavily criticized for her decision to keep the county results on an antiquated personal computer, rather than upgrade to a new data system being utilized statewide. Nickolaus cited security concerns for keeping the data herself — yet when she reported the data, it did not include the City of Brookfield, whose residents cast nearly 14,000 votes.