RPCVs in the News: Botswana RPCV JoAnne Kloppenburg is at Center of Wisconsin Election Controversy

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, widely characterized as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial union policy that ends most public employees’ right to collective bargaining, has taken a strange twist with the announcement that a human error in putting together a spreadsheet has pushed conservative Justice David Prosser ahead of Assistant State Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg (RPCV Botswana 1976 - 1979) by 7,500 votes after the original statewide estimate had Justice Prosser trailing by 200 votes. According to Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, she failed to save 14,315 votes on her computer coming from a heavily Republican district, omitting them entirely in an unofficial total she released after Tuesday’s election.

Nickolaus says the problem had nothing to do with her election system, which has been criticized as outdated. However Nickolaus was previously criticized for not being cooperative with the county’s director of administration, resulting in an audit following the 2010 election that showed she failed to follow proper security and backup procedures and would not share passwords with her superiors. It is unknown whether the final numbers will be within 0.5 percent of the total votes cast — the margin that would allow Kloppenburg to ask for a free recount.

Until recently, Kloppenburg was a little-known assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice who, in any other year, would have had little chance of unseating an entrenched incumbent. But she rode a wave of anger after Wisconsin Governor Walker’s February 11 unveiling of his budget repair bill, which stripped public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights, put the State Capitol under a weeks-long state of siege by hundreds of thousands of state workers, teachers, union members and others who felt that Walker had gone too far.  “There’s a great sense that we need to return Wisconsin to some level of sanity,” says Melissa Mulliken, Kloppenburg’s campaign manager.


Christian Science Monitor.  “Vote count ‘human error’ shadows Wisconsin Supreme Court election” by Mark Guarino.  April 9, 2011.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “Corrected Brookfield tally puts Prosser ahead after 7,500-vote gain” by Jason Stein.  April 7, 2011.

Wisconsin State Journal.  “Wisconsin high court race yields mixed results as both sides gird for recount” by Todd Richmond.  April 9, 2011.