This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

It's Over


For Immediate Release:  May 7, 2011                                                                                    Contact:  Brian J. Nemoir 262.751.0448



It’s Over


By Kenneth R. Mayer, PhD. is professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is a consultant to the Prosser Recount Team.


The recount is nearing completion in the contested Wisconsin Supreme Court election between incumbent David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.  The initial canvas showed Prosser ahead by 7,316 votes, out of nearly 1.5 million cast.  More than three-quarters of the state has completed its recount, and the net change has been only 225 in Kloppenburg’s favor, using data compiled by the Prosser campaign.  The GAB’s own data shows that with nearly 80% of the vote recounted, Prosser is ahead by more than 25,000 votes.  It is time to recognize that there is no point in continuing.


It has actually been clear from the beginning that the recount would not change the result: Prosser’s lead in the initial count was 30 times larger than any margin that had been reversed in any statewide election that I have been able to find in the last 30 years.  The initial margins in the 2004 Washington Gubernatorial Election and the 2008 Minnesota Senate election – both of which were reversed after a recount and litigation – were, respectively, 261 votes and 215 votes.  Every statistical model of recounts has concluded that the chances of a reversal depends, more than anything, on the margin of victory.  Absent the kind of irregularities that simply have not happened in this election, a reversal of a 7,000+ margin would be historically unprecedented.


There are, so far, a handful of wards (what Wisconsin calls precincts) that have produced anomalous changes: one ward where Kloppenburg picked up 67 votes because of an omission in the initial count;   one town where the absentee ballots of 18 cloistered nuns were tossed because they were not properly witnessed; one ward where 79 ballots were accidentally left in a clerk’s office; one ward where Prosser picked up 15 votes when the original totals for both candidates were adjusted.


But nearly all of the wards – more than 70% --show either no change at all or a net change of 1 vote or less – more than 90%.  It is simply not possible for Kloppenburg to pick up enough votes to change the result.   The average change has been about 0.1 votes per ward.  Again, this has been clear from the beginning, but with more than three-quarters of the votes recounted, the possibilities are so remote that a reversal, by itself, could be evidence of a significant irregularity.


As of today, Kloppenburg would have to reverse more than 7,000 of the remaining votes to win.  This is a rate hundreds of times greater than the error rate so far, which has been steady at about 1 change per 4,000 votes.    


Kloppenburg may be pinning her hopes on challenging votes from the City of Brookfield, where a failure to report 15,000 votes on election night led to an initial (and wholly unofficial) Associated Press calculation that Kloppenburg had won by 204 votes.  She held a press conference where she declared victory.  But there was in fact no real anomaly here: it was simply a human error in which vote totals were not conveyed to the county election official on election night.  Once the votes were reported, and counted, it was clear that the AP report was simply an error.  To claim fraud here would be an impossible stretch, elevating press reports to an official status that they do not, and cannot, have.


Kloppenburg asked for a recount because she said it was important to have confidence in the electoral process.  What the recount process has shown is that the election process in Wisconsin, for all of the potential for human error, is extremely accurate.


And the advantage of stopping the recount now, is that we can go back to making jokes about elections in Illinois.




Prosser for Supreme Court
709 Milwaukee Street, Suite C
Delafield, WI 63018

Contact:  Brian J. Nemoir


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