Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount Expected to Be Chaotic

Monday, 25 Apr 2011 08:06 AM

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The two R's — for recount and recall — are the two biggest letters this week in Wisconsin politics. The recount in the contentious Supreme Court election is expected to be chaotic, as it's a partial digital recount that will enlist thousands upon thousands of volunteers for a hand tally in 31 of the state's 72 counties and electronic tabulating in the others to settle the contest between incumbent Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Wisconsin, Supreme Court, recount
In one of the more infamous recounts in history — for the 2000 presidential balloting in Florida — Judge Robert Rosenberg used a magnifying glass to examine a ballot in Fort Lauderdale. (Getty Images File Photo)
Kloppenburg had asked for a statewide hand recount after results showed she lost by 7,316 votes, but a compromise the parties reached Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court stipulated the partial hand recounts.

The April 5 election between Kloppenburg, and Prosser, a 12-year court veteran and former Republican Assembly speaker, is considered a litmus test of public sentiment in the furor over Gov. Scott Walker's budget cutbacks.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel predicts a high degree of bedlam in the tallying, as it outlines the process thusly:

"This is what a recount looks like: An indoor sports arena is filled with poll workers from every municipality in Milwaukee County, each in their own area. At each station, poll workers examine and count ballots one by one. And as they count, campaign volunteers, attorneys and journalists watch their every move — with the campaign representatives sometimes challenging the poll workers' decisions — while sheriff's deputies stand guard.

"It could be the biggest show in Wisconsin."

Well, it could be the biggest show in the Badger State, if it weren't vying for attention with the recall fever emanating from the brouhaha over Walker's budget-cutting measures, which, among other things, aim to pull collective-bargaining rights from state employees.

Recall efforts against at least 16 legislators — eight Democrats for opposing Walker's budget plan and eight Republicans who backed it — are lined up like airplanes on the tarmac at O'Hare International Airport during an ice storm. As of Friday, petitions had been filed against five of the Republicans and three of the Democrats on the firing line.

More petition deadlines await activists this week, with three lists of appellants due Sunday or today, and another batch coming due in May.

One of the Republicans targeted for recall, Sen. Dan Kapanke, isn't rolling over in the process, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

Last week, Kapanke’s attorneys alleged that recall organizer Pat Scheller didn't file campaign finance forms, so none of the petition signatures should be counted, the Tribune reported.

Democrats countered that Kapanke's lawyers were advancing a distinction without a difference, because the recall committee is registered and Scheller is its agent.

Kapanke’s attorneys also are disputing more than 900 of the 22,975 signatures on the petition to dump Kapanke, the Tribune reported. Some were from people who live outside the district, were duplicates, or were flawed.

Recall organizers volleyed back that most of the disputed signatures can be corrected easily within the guidelines — and even if all are disallowed, the petition itself includes more than the 15,588 signatures required to propel a recall, which would be just the fifth for a state legislator.

Election officials have two weeks to approve or reject the petition, although the Tribune reported that the Government Accountability Board is expected to ask a court for more time.

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