Republicans are voicing fears that a Minnesota-style vote grab could be underway in Wisconsin following reports that the union-backed Democratic challenger to incumbent conservative Wisconsin Justice David Prosser has surged ahead in next-day vote counting.
Early morning vote tallies showed Prosser clinging to a razor-thin lead of 598 votes with 99 percent of the votes counted. But the counting of additional votes on Wednesday morning propelled challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg into the lead by 235 votes.
The high level of concern over possible vote fraud was reflected in a request made by Milwaukee Election Commissioner Robert Spindell, who is active in GOP politics, that police be dispatched to guard ballots and voting machines overnight. The extent to which ballots were guarded statewide remains unclear.
That reversal conjured unhappy memories for Republicans of the bitterly contested 2008 recount battle between incumbent GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken in Minnesota. Coleman had a 775 vote lead on Election Day. But as additional votes were counted in the days that followed, Franken surged to a 251 vote lead that he never relinquished despite a long legal battle over absentee ballots.
Already, both sides in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race are predicting a drawn out recount. Wall Street Journal election expert John Fund, author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, tells Newsmax the concerns of a repeat of political intrigue in Wisconsin similar to the GOP experience in Minnesota are well founded, given the lax voter registration standards Wisconsin has enacted.
“Like Wisconsin,” Fund tells Newsmax, “Al Franken's race in Minnesota in 2008 featured a same-day voter law which allowed people to register and vote at the same time on Election Day -- an open, engraved invitation to fraud.
“That, plus differing standards on counting absentee ballots in GOP and Democratic counties, led to the Norm Coleman lead being reversed and Franken becoming the 60th Senate vote for Obamacare.
|Incumbent David Prosser
“If Prosser loses in a recount,” Fund warns, “much of the Walker agenda in Wisconsin could be threatened.”
Kloppenburg surged into the lead as two lagging precincts reported results. As of mid-morning Wednesday, all but three of the state’s 3,630 precincts had reported their vote tallies.
A loss by Prosser would be seen as a significant victory by Democrats following massive union protests of the austerity agenda pushed by GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
In recent weeks, partisans on both sides have described the contest as “ground zero” for the political struggle over how to rein in massive deficit spending on both the state and federal level.
One indication of the importance of the contest: The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice has reported that the race had broken a record for the most outside-group spending on television ads ever.
If the race remains tight enough for a recount as expected, the first state would be for a Board of State Canvassers to compare poll lists to verify the number of votes cast in each precinct.
It would then move on to carefully examine absentee ballot envelopes, and challenges to various ballots would come in from each side.
Inevitably in a recount, some ballots are found to be defective, and are therefore set aside and not included in the final tally. These can later become result in legal challenges. Machine votes would also be recounted to verify if the original canvass, or vote count, was correct.
In past recount battles, suspect absentee and provisional ballots have combined with machine malfunctions, and sometimes even missing or lost ballots, to throw closely fought races into confusion and controversy. In the Minnesota recount, 32 ballots were discovered in the trunk of an election worker’s vehicle several days after the election.
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