April 21, 2011
CONTACT:Jay Heck – 608/256-2686
Recount of Votes in Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Will Help to Restore Public Confidence in Democracy
Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg yesterday requested a statewide recount of the votes cast in the April 5th election for state Supreme Court in one of the closest elections in Wisconsin's history. Incumbent Justice David Prosser, Kloppenburg's opponent, holds a 7,316 vote lead out of more than 1.5 million cast.
Kloppenburg's decision to seek a recount - which is fully consistent with her right under state law when the margin separating two candidates is less than 0.05 after the canvass has been completed - should be respected and supported because it will help restore much needed public confidence in Wisconsin's election process and vote counting system, which was badly shaken in the aftermath of this election -- particularly in Waukesha County.
Failure to undertake a statewide recount would leave hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin voters with serious doubts about whether or not the votes in Waukesha County and elsewhere throughout Wisconsin were counted accurately and honestly.
The fact that a statewide recount may not, and likely will not, change the outcome of the election is most definitely not the point. The point is that citizens need to have full confidence that the vote totals in the election are accurate and properly reflect the will and choice of the citizens of Wisconsin.
Indeed, Justice Prosser and his campaign ought to embrace the recount rather than attempt to discourage one from occurring with belittling statements and even threats of legal action according to recent press accounts. What, exactly, do they fear from an open and transparent review of the vote totals? Prosser's victory could be tainted by persistent suspicion and doubt in the absence of such a review.
And is there anyone in the State of Wisconsin that can seriously assert that if it were Justice Prosser who trailed Ms. Kloppenburg by a margin of less than 0.05 percent of the vote total, that he and his campaign would not be entitled to and would not seek the recount that is provided for under Wisconsin law? There is absolutely no doubt that he would seek, and would be entitled to a recount.
With a substantial number of State Senate recall elections just ahead, and a Presidential election and elections for the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature looming next year, the citizens of Wisconsin need to have full confidence that all of their votes are properly and accurately counted and that in a very close outcome, such as this one, that the recount process provided for in the law is respected and supported rather than belittled and denigrated.
Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703