When Kathy Nickolaus, the county clerk in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, spoke to the press on Thursday after revealing that she had failed to count more than 14,000 ballots in the hotly contested state supreme court election, one might have expected her to offer her resignation. Instead, Ms. Nickolaus blamed “human error” for the problem, which resulted in the failure to tally any votes from the city of Brookfield, which accounts for about 11 percent of her county’s voters. Most of the 14,315 uncounted votes were cast for the more conservative candidate, David Prosser.
As a result, Mr. Prosser — who had been about 200 ballots behind JoAnne Kloppenburg in a contest that seemed bound for a recount — had a net gain of more than 7,500 votes, and now has an overall lead of about that size. Although the election may still go to a recount, it is now highly unlikely that the outcome will change, unless another county discovers a discrepancy of the same magnitude, but in Ms. Kloppenburg’s favor. The human who made the error was none other than Ms. Nickolaus, who said she had failed to save a computer file after entering Brookfield’s results.
It is hard to excuse the mistake, which was of a considerably larger magnitude than anything that happened in an individual county during the controversial recounts in Florida or Minnesota. There are, of course, suggestions in some liberal-leaning blogs that Ms. Nickolaus (who has worked for Republicans in the past) is attempting to steal the election.
But a look at the turnout estimates in Waukesha County, before and after the problem was corrected, suggest that her mistake was probably an honest one. The original turnout figure was somewhat lower than what might have been expected statistically, and the revised one is more in line with reasonable expectations.
Full Article: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/vote-counting-error-in-wisconsin-points-to-incompetence-not-conspiracy/?nl=us&emc=politicsemailemb2