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Waukesha County clerk facing more election night problems

Waukesha County clerk facing more election night problems

By Steve Chamraz. CREATED Apr 4, 2012

WAUKESHA - For the third time in a year, the Waukesha County clerk is defending her handling of an election night plagued with slow counting and other irregularities.

Kathy Nickolaus said she was surprised when computer data brought to her office by municipal clerks would not upload into her system.

That malfunction forced her staff to count and enter those results by hand.

"We didn't want to get into that too much," Nickolaus said of the error. "So my staff and I started entering the data."

The hand count meant vote totals were slow to come.

Complete counts for Waukesha County were not available until 6 a.m. Wednesday, though Nickolaus said the count was accurate.

"Last night's election, there was nothing that went wrong," Nickolaus said, "The results were late -- later than we wanted."

The enduring images of the count's disorganized nature are photos taken by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Nickolaus' approach to making voting data public.

Elections staff did not post tabulated results, instead affixing to a conference room wall the receipts printed by individual voting machines.

Reporters and election service representatives were forced to look through those long strips of paper and add the numbers themselves.

In her defense, Nickolaus said that is what state statute requires.

"We went through the process, what was approved by the Government Accountability Board," she said.

The GAB would not comment on the latest questions about Nickolaus' office, or whether her practices were in line with its expectations.

Last December, the elections board issued instructions on how Waukesha County was supposed to conduct its count and make results public.

Those instructions said votes must be recorded and reported electronically, not by hand.

Nicklaus was singled out by the GAB after failing to report 14,000 votes cast in an election last April.

That omission flipped the results of a race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, turning a 204-vote lead for challenger JoAnne Kloppenberg into a 7,000-vote lead for incumbent Justice David Prosser.


Steve Chamraz

Steve Chamraz

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When he joined TODAY’S TMJ4 in 2011, Steve Chamraz returned to the place where his career began. These days, Steve anchors “Live at 3:00” and “Live at 4:00” and contributes to the TODAY’S TMJ4 I-Team.