Serious ethical questions swirl around “surprise” vote update from Brookfield, Waukesha County

Kathy Nickolaus has put herself in the middle of the firestorm regarding “missing votes” from Waukesha County, specifically Brookfield. Mistakes happen in elections, human error happens; but the degree to which these mistakes effect the outcome of a critical election is not only unprecedented – it is virtually impossible in the realm of truth and reality. I will concede the 1% chance that Kathy Nickolaus’ story is true, and if a non-partisan, complete hand recount of every vote – and thorough investigation of Ms. Nickolaus’ data/computer records involved in this election. The recovery of confidence in our electoral process can only be accomplished by an investigation at the Federal level, by non-partisan investigators. Here are key questions, and in each instance there is opportunity for altering election outcome.

1. The City of Brookfield Clerk has reported sending identical election outcomes twice (the second time at the request of the County Clerk), and confirmed the numbers before leaving her office on Tuesday night. (halfway into the article)

2. Ms. Nickolaus has refused, even after an audit strongly suggested otherwise, to update her election reporting system to be in compliance not only with the County, but the State. The concern lies in the fact that she keeps data on a personal, closed system not visible, accessible or secured within the rest of the system. This gives her and two other staffers exclusive access to data and systems with no other accountability from external audit.

3. In her explanation of how this happened, she faults herself with not “saving” input data properly. The operating system she uses( which is NOT the system required by the state – this is her personal system) is Microsoft Access. In Microsoft’s own product description, it promotes Access as ideal for multi-agency use, as once data is entered into cells, it auto-protects and saves. This is important – because her story doesn’t agree with the system’s operating methods – once data is entered by the administrator, it saves automatically.

4. Over 24 hours lapsed between the reporting of votes from Brookfield to the discovery of them as “missing” by Ms. Nickolaus. The Brookfield City Clerk was NEVER called to inquire as to this issue – she found out about the discrepancy from the press release, not directly from the County Clerk who never once called her with concern over the “missing” votes. What happened in that time, and why did conservative media find out before the Brookfield City Clerk, when it was her municipality affected by the “discovery?” This raises huge accountability issues.

5. Kathy Nickolaus’ background brings this into question even more. She not only worked for the GOP in the Republican Caucus for David Prosser, was given immunity from prosecution for testimony in the caucus scandal (because she participated in an IT capacity), and had given money to Republican Election Campaigns on a regular basis (showing extreme partisanship) – she is a recognized expert on the managing of elections and systems to record data.

Kathy Nickolaus has been working with IT systems for elections and campaigns her entire career in politics. She was the WCCO manager of the year in 2009, and has been a presenter as an expert on election management . She has been conducting elections in Waukesha County since 2002, never with such an egregious error or oversight. She also created her own system for data entry and storage, exclusive to her office. As such an experienced expert,  how is it possible that she would make such a basic data error? It is almost incomprehensible and statistically impossible. The coincidence of the numbers also coinciding directly with the number to push the vote over the auto recount level is very compelling. In terms of an investigation, she has motive, access, and opportunity to manipulate the data influencing the election outcome benefitting her party.

Taking into account all these “coincidences,” a complete and thorough investigation into the process and persons involved will be the only way to ensure confidence in the system. A complete and thorough statewide recount should also be ordered. Regardless of the outcome of this election, the behavior and practices of the corporate-sponsored Republican Party continues to decimate the tradition of progressive and open Democracy in Wisconsin.


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