By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2011, 7:26pm PT  

Wednesday morning at 9:00am Central Daylight Time, County Clerks in 72 counties across the state of Wisconsin will convene to oversee just the third statewide election "recount" in Badger State history. Kathy Nickolaus, the embattled Waukesha County Clerk, GOP activist, and former colleague of Justice David Prosser during their tenure in the Assembly Republican Caucus fraught with criminal felony charges and corruption, will not be one of them.

The two previous statewide recounts in Wisconsin were carried out in 1989 and, before that, in 1865.

By agreement of both campaigns, just 31 of the 72 counties will see some of their paper ballots counted by hand in the state-sponsored contest of the April 5th Supreme Court election between the incumbent Republican Prosser and his independent challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. All other ballots are scheduled to be counted once again by the same oft-failed, easily-manipulated machines made by companies like Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia, which tallied them originally. Each machine-tallied ballot may be examined --- though they may not be touched --- by representatives of each campaign, prior to being run through the machine again.

Waukesha County --- where some 14,000 votes were said to have been discovered by Nickolaus as unreported Election Night --- resulting in a subsequent reversal of fortunes for Prosser, and a 7,316 vote lead in the unofficial, unverified vote count --- will see all of its paper ballots counted by hand.

Unlike her counterparts in the rest of the state, Nickolaus, who is still under investigation for her actions in this election and several prior, will not oversee that count...

As Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel reports tonight:

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has recused herself from overseeing the Supreme Court recount set to begin statewide Wednesday.

Nickolaus requested to be replaced from overseeing the recount in a letter to County Executive Dan Vrakas, chief of staff Ellen Nowak said Tuesday.

Vrakas appointed retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Mawdsley to oversee the recount.

Nickolaus came under fire after disclosing that she failed to report votes from the City of Brookfield on election night.
Nowak said Nickolaus participated in Monday's planning meeting with the Government Accountability Board, a teleconference held with county clerks statewide, and submitted her letter afterward.

Vrakas appointed Mawdsley that same day. Mawdsley, who was Waukesha County's corporation counsel before he became a judge in 1988, retired from the bench in December 2009.
Nickolaus took herself out of the recount process, Nowak said, in order to avoid the appearance of conflict or to give the candidates the ability to raise objections about her performance in the recount later, "given all the other questions surrounding the election."
Nickolaus will still be present for the recount as the county clerk, Nowak said. She will not serve on the Canvass Board, which includes Democrat Ramona Kitzinger and Republican Pat Karcher.

The statewide recount was requested by Kloppenburg after questions about the Waukesha count emerged, as well as concerns about unusually high undervote rates and anomalies elsewhere in the state, according to her campaign.

"A recount may change the outcome of this election or it may confirm it, but when it is done, a recount will have shed necessary and appropriate light on an election that right now, seems to so many people to be suspect," Kloppenburg said during her press conference announcing her intention to file a contest last Wednesday.

The Kloppenburg camp has also requested a special investigator be named by Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency, to look into Nickolaus' procedures and the still-unexplained reasons for the 14,000 votes said left out of the initial Election Night results in Waukesha.

Though Prosser's campaign had initially vowed to "take every and any step to prevent" a recount --- declaring their 0.488% margin as "decisive" and a recount to be "frivolous" --- they have yet to take measures to oppose it.

Both camps are still seeking volunteers to oversee the counts and donations to help fund legal efforts in support of it, though Prosser attorney Jim Troupis has said they are flying in "hundreds" of "attorneys and volunteers...from all over the country."

By state law, the "recount" must be completed no later than May 9th.

Those interested in volunteering for the Kloppenburg campaign may contact them via email here. Donations may be made to her efforts here.

Those interested in volunteering for Prosser may fill out their web-form here. Donations can be made through his website here.

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