Home  >  Wisconsin  >  Vote recount may cost taxpayers $1 million-plus

Vote recount may cost taxpayers $1 million-plus

By   /   April 20, 2011  /   53 Comments

By Kirsten Adshead   Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — It's going to cost Wisconsin's taxpayers hundreds of  thousands of dollars to more than $1 million to find out who will be the next state Supreme Court justice.

Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg on Wednesday said she will seek a full, statewide recount of the April 5 election in which she is challenging Justice David Prosser for a 10-year term on the bench.

"There are two reasons for this recount,” she said. “One is to verify the outcome. The other is to restore the public trust in the electoral process."

Based on the canvassed vote totals from all 72 Wisconsin counties, Prosser is winning by 7,316 votes, from about 1.5 million cast. The difference in totals is within the 0.5 percent margin that triggers an automatic recount with the state paying the tab, according to state law. With margins above 0.5 percent, the candidate pays for the recount. Prosser's margin of victory is 0.48 percent.

The Pew Center for the States reported last November statewide recount efforts in Minnesota and Washington State cost an average of 15-cents to 30-cents per ballot. Based on that formula, a full statewide recount effort in this race would cost between $225,000 and $450,000.

And last week, Milwaukee County Elections Deputy Administrator Suzette Emmer said a recount in Milwaukee County alone could cost as much as $500,000 because of programming costs for voting machines and reimbursement to municipal clerks for their assistance.

But Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, said last week that a statewide recount would cost more than $1 million.

The GAB won’t certify the election until a recount is concluded.

“We have been preparing for a recount since Election Night,” Kennedy said Wednesday in a statement. “We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.”

During Wednesday's news conference, Kloppenburg repeatedly shied away from saying whether she thought a recount would lead her to victory.

The Prosser campaign quickly responded.

“We learned something this afternoon from JoAnne Kloppenburg. Apparently nothing will stop her from going ahead and wasting taxpayers hard-earned money to discover what election officials did on April 5th – that Justice David Prosser was re-elected,” the campaign said in a statement.

Prosser’s margin of victory is beyond the few hundred votes that typically have prompted recounts in statewide elections around the country.

In the contentious 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken, Coleman originally held a 215-vote lead. Franken ultimately prevailed, however, by 312 votes – after eight months of legal wrangling.

Kloppenburg said a full recount is necessary to ensure the integrity of a “suspect” election.

Among the concerns she cited: Polling places that ran out of ballots and gave voters photo-copied ballots instead, which may not have been properly registered by voting machines.

Kloppenburg also is requesting an independent investigation of “possible violations of Wisconsin election law” in Waukesha County, where the inclusion of 14,000 ballots that initially were excluded on election night ultimately put Prosser ahead by more than 7,000 votes.

Asked Wednesday if she would request a hand recount – versus a machine recount – Kloppenburg said a hand recount of some county results would be among the requests the GAB puts before the Dane County District Court, and "we will be supporting the Government Accountability Board in its request."

But GAB spokesman Reid Magney said that a request for a hand recount must come from a candidate, who has to convince a judge that a machine-based recount wouldn’t suffice.

The recount request marks another twist this year in the topsy-turvy world of politics here, which gained nationwide attention since Gov. Scott Walker announced his plan to limit collective bargaining powers to salary negotiations for most union public workers and to require greater employee contributions to their pension and health care plans.

Many came to view the Prosser-Kloppenburg race, while officially non-partisan, as a referendum on Walker and his collective bargaining proposals.

Whether either judicial candidate could remain impartial became a key issue in the race.

Prosser’s critics point to his history as a Republican lawmaker and to a statement his campaign made in December that said he would be a complement to Walker and GOP-led Legislature.

Kloppenburg’s critics note that she has received significant support from people who they say hope a Prosser defeat would mean a more liberal Supreme Court that might, ultimately, rule against Walker’s collective bargaining proposal.

Kloppenburg’s decision means Wisconsin won’t know for days, perhaps weeks, who will be its next justice.

The winner of the election is scheduled to take a seat on the bench Aug. 1.

Magney said a meeting will be held Monday with county election officials, and recounts should begin next week.

State law says a recount should be completed within two weeks, but legal disputes are possible.

Prosser’s campaign said on Monday, following his victory speech, that it already was preparing legal challenges to any potential recount request.

Both campaigns have hired high-profile attorneys experienced in electoral recounts, and both already are raising money to help pay for any recount-related expenses the campaigns will incur, such as lawyer fees.


  • Look at the jobs it will create!

  • sara abbott

    If Cloppenburg wants a recount, she and her backers should pay for it, NOT taxpayers. Prosser is the winner accept it, deal with it and get on with the business at hand!!

  • Tom Largo

    Can you say Al Franken here we go again, wonder where they will find more democrat votes this time???

  • Daniel I. Pittenger

    In my experience, the political left and it’s union symbiosis will drag this recount out until a possible Walker recall election is completed. Like spoiled children, they will count until they win, or like their childish Senate supporters become disruptive in the political process.

    I am tired of a political and active minority demanding that I, who worked and saved since I was ten years old, should give up a disproportionate portion of what I have in order to retire State workers at twice my saliary and 2/3 my age. I also disllike the re-distribution of what I have produced to those who are unwilling to work for a living, preferring to leach the life-blood of those who do work.

    The Marxist idiocy has to stop somewhere and now is as good a time as any.

  • Basia

    Kloppy is a losing propostion for certain, but she is certainly hoping in her birkenstocks for an Al Franken moment. That would have to be a miracle as the whole world will be watching and a 200 vote difference in Minnesota is a great deal different than a 7,300 vote difference here. The unions and Obama have put her up to this futile effort. She will be a loser and then tossed aside like a rag doll.

    Thanks Kloppy for contributing to our state’s fiscal woes. Typical radical leftie with no economic sense and very very self centered indeed.

  • Kathryn B

    MS Kloppenberg is obviously being urged to pursue this by the unions which have so much to gain by a Kloppenberg victory.

    Because of the 7,000+ margin of victory attributed to Justice Prosser, thsi is OBVIOUSLY a FRIVILOUS lawsuit which will cost the tax payers of Wisconsin alot of money we can not really afford.

    I think that it would be in the best interests of the taxpaying citizens of the state of Wisconsin to seriously look into a class action suit against Ms Kloppenberg [personlly], her campaign and the unions who are pushing for this action.

    The time has long passed for the citizenry to sit passively by and have their electoral process ripped to shreds by sore loosers such as Joanne Kloppenberg and those who pull her strings behind the curtain.

    Yes, she has every “RIGHT” to request a recount, even though the numbers suggest that her request is beyond ridiculous and a waste of tax payer dollars. We Tax Payers ALSO have the RIGHT to DEMAND satisfaction for a frivolous suit brought only to delay the inevitable.

    If this means so much to you……………………….go ahead and PAY FOR IT!!!!!

  • Paul Lembrich

    It is time to recognize the 100 plus years of socialist/communist infiltration of the once honorable Unions and “Labor Party” and call them by more honest names.

  • Vernon Court

    I agree. It is too bad that our form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people and the privilege we have of voting is trying to be controlled by a few rude union bosses whose real interest is filling their own pockets at the expense of the American Worker. It is high time that we become a Right to Work State where we have the freedom to decide wether we want to work for someone and if we decide not to work that employee we can find a job to our prefference. It was unions that forced the jobs overseas and now they are still using there un-american tactics to ruin our nation.

  • Fred S

    If I remember correctly wide voter fraud was uncovered several years ago in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Police Department published a comprehensive and in depth investigation report. You cab fine that report here: http://media2.620wtmj.com/breakingnews/ElectionResults_2004_VoterFraudInvestigation_MPD-SIU-A2474926.pdf

    Apparently the GAB has done nothing to correct the fraud in Milwaukee since this report. Can we trust the GAB in this case to conduct a fair and accurate recount?

  • ron

    MORE TIME for all the dead people to vote (or find thse trunkfull of votes), to manufacture more, for the unions to dig up reAsons why klppinheimer goty screwed, etc, etc. DO NOT CONTRIBUTE A PENNY FOR LAWYERS FEES, ETC. lET THE UNIONS WASTE THEIR MEMBERS MONEY!

  • Jim

    It is unlikely but not impossible that the unions and their backers could pull off a Frankenesque reversal. The primary objective besides throwing away money is further delay and polarization, which the democrats hope will keep their voters angry as the recall elections approach. The fact that Prosser’s margin is a mere 7,100 votes against such an ridiculous opponent speaks volumes about the stupidity of a distressingly large segment of the electorate. If the lawyers can put a pornographic clown into the U.S. senate, they can put this buffoon on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

  • Please, there is no question that unions have greed at the top, but you do not see their income increasing at the rate of 30-300% as in the top 1%. So who is really ripping off the public and sending their jobs to countries with labor rates 1/10th ours?

  • Overburdened Taxpaye

    I wonder if Ms. Floppinberg would ask for a recount if she had to pay for it out of her own pocket. Sadly it is another example of wasting taxpayer dollars that are needed elsewhere.

  • Rob

    This is the most ridiculous recount I have ever heard of (even though its her right to request it). The Brookfield votes were always there (as proven byLisa Sink’s article in The Brookfield Patch the day after the election on 4/6), a day before Kathy N. admitted she had not included them (4/7). The votes were not found and did not mysteriously, suddenly show up. Do the Kloppenburg supporters really think they are going to find an excess of 7,317 votes that were not counted for her?

    Wouldn’t it be funny if any “suspect” votes turned out to be for Kloppenburg and were disqualified? This is just a delay tactic. I was foolish enough for a day to think Ms. Kloppenburg might do the right thing and save the taxpayers the cost of a recount but I was wrong. I am disgusted that she and her team cannot graciously admit defeat.

  • Jeffrey Ziemendorf

    What a grave tactical mistake on the democrats part. They are wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a useless recall. In the end they are still the losers. So now, for the next few weeks all the public is going to hear (that is if the left leaning media reports it) is about how they are still losing. Getting rid of the union stronghold on this state is going to be the best economic move made for the people of Wisconsin in years!

  • Ms. Kloppenberg is looking less and less like a judge and more and more like a liberal with an agenda.

    Hopefully the GAB will find voting irregularities in Dane and Milwaukee Counties that will create an even wider margin of victory for Justice Prosser.

  • Sam

    Jack, have you checked the salaries of the union bosses? They are the ones driving all of this. Every time they negotiate for any union employee there is one agenda in mind. They are garnering power through so called employee benefit arbitration, increasing the pocketing of union dues and they become more and more entrenched as one of the most powerful arms of political heavy lifting machines. Please don’t go to the place of complaining about the high earnings of the top 1% unless you want to include the mafia union bosses in your critique!

  • Yes, Sam, the union bosses make upwards of $300K and I don’t support that level of pay, nor do I support public union gouging (where it exists).

    But Walker doesn’t like unions because they only gave $1460 to his campaign, and there they were likely road building unions.

    We citizens are clearly pretty dense when it comes to our moneyed political system.

  • Merton Man

    Kloppenberg declares victory with just over 200 votes; then all the votes are counted and she lost by 7,200+ votes and wants a re-count. This lady is a whinny; public trough eating liberal; that would be a poor excuse for a Judge.

    First the error in submitting the counts and the delay in getting it right; then the GAB takes the maximun time to call the race, they review and again push out until last Friday the announcement; now Kloppenberg takes the maximum time to ask for a recount. No conspiracy here. Don’t be surprised if Dane and Milwaukee county find enough uncounted absentee votes to take the election.

    As Joseph Stalin said; “It is not who votes; it’s who counts the votes”.


    Jobs leave this country because this generation of leaders that brought us Enron; sub-primes and a fininancial debacle is lazy and immoral; they lack long term vision, they do not appreciate America and what it has stood for. They see easy profits and short term results. They were raised in an environment of; “if it feels good do it; it is okay until you get caught; down with the establishment; the man is out to get me, free love, acid and a decay of faith. Now the run the country and major companies. They do not do the hard things like innovate, invest in the long term; nor do they realize the threat it is to move technology and manufacturing capabilities to a second class country. And they do not see their responsibility to keep American employees employed.

  • Dodi

    The old girl was right there to declare herself a winner with only a couple hundred votes and now with more than 7,000 she wants a recount. We are already broke and we should pay for this? How nuts can one be? She is just delaying the process as is Judge Whoever who had Gov. Walkers law to limit collective bargaining put on hold . She claims this is being done to 1) “verify the outcome” which was done by the canvassing boards totals of all counties and according to the above 2) “to restore the public trust in the electoral process.” There is no way the trust can be restored when people like this don’t understand (or don’t care), about the cost of this, and won’t accept the outcome. Let the unions pay for it, they’re making a haul off of this. I hope they find even more votes for Justice Prosser!



  • Dodi, I doubt she would have done this had the inept Waukesha clerk (who once worked for Prosser) hadn’t all of a sudden “found” 15,000 votes. I’d do it too. I trust Prosser as far as I can throw him.

  • Merton Man, I certainly agree, though I’d probably go farther by saying that today’s leaders are getting by because the politicians have gotten more bold in their taking campaign bribes and returning the favor via deregulation, which of course has enabled the rip-offs of today.

  • Tom Rawling

    To Jack,

    Jobs do leave this country because of high union wages . It happens every day. Jobs also move from Closed Shop Union states to Right to Work states. It’s called Econ 101. Now the unions want to keep jobs in Closed Shop states so guess what those jobs will move out of the US. The Enrons of the world happen in Union operations like Russia with more frequency than it happens in the US but if we let the unions and government work in partnership what happened in Russia will happen here. I strongly suggest you take courses in Logic and Economics before you provide us with your drivel. At least learn to understand both sides of a discussion.

  • JoAnn Robinette


  • Todd Koeppel

    Governor Walker doesn’t like unions because they are systematically destroying our state by costing us millions of dollars each year. Unions have no place in the public sector. They force the state to collect their dues from state workers regardless of whether or not the workers want to support the unions. Then they unions use the money to help elect legislators who will work to increase union size and power. Its just not right.

  • Seems to me Tom, that you need Econ 101 instead. Wages in India and China are 1/10th ours, and whether union or not the employers will outsource to other countries if they can. I don’t worry about public service unions because our governments are not into outsourcing (yet!).

    What is it about the effects of NAFTA and CAFTA do you not understand? Our politicians sold US workers down the tubes, and then they repealed Glass-Seagall in 1999 to get into our other pocket.

  • JBlue

    Votes were never “found” – that’s a completely false statement! The votes initially were counted and then that number was entered by the clerk into a laptop computer program that is used to report tallies to the media. This is not an “official” vote tally mind you – this is simply how she chooses to keep traack of what’s happening so she can report the count to the media because the media can’t still and wait for the votes to be certified. If they did – this would be a non-issue!

    So enter human error – the clerk forgot to hit the SAVE key in the program when those last votes were entered, and when she went back to this program to get the numbers to report to the media, the count was wrong. That’s all that happened. Those votes didn’t materialize out of thin air – they were always there and it’s false, insinuating statements like yours that have fed the frenzy of liberals screaming election fraud.

  • I didn’t call it fraud, I called it incompetence. And I don’t have the details and don’t care at the moment, except that I understand that out elite government employee was using a software package that didn’t require a special “save.” It was automatically saved, thus I now wonder how they ever got “lost.” I can only hope that the GAB verified the votes and was satisfied (which they apparently were). Though I’d probably replace the clerk, I recognize that government isn’t as demanding of workers.

  • Harry Kleinhans

    Someone needs to do some studying of Math. 1500ooo recounted votes @ an aveage of 15 to 30 cents

    (.22.5 cents) is “.225 x 1,500,000 = $337,500.00” of course my figures are only as good as the ones in question.

  • I see. So if it won’t create jobs and they are asking for volunteers, it therefor shouldn’t cost us money?

  • JBlue

    I don’t care whether you personally called it fraud or incompetence. My point is that insinuating there was any impropriety going on is unfounded and just plain wrong. I guess running around making claims before the fat lady sings is how you liberals like to do business.

  • Were the situation reversed I can just see how the R’s would holler.

  • James Chiappetta

    As I said before Kloppy should give it up and save the taxpayers a ton of money. She was quick to claim victory with a 204 vote lead but now 7300 votes behind she wants a recount. Give me a break , she is the phoniest person I have ever seen. The clerk from Waukesha should sue her for defamation of character. She made a mistake, she did not cheat.

  • Dodi

    Jack – she would have done this anyway because most likely she would have been instructed to so that the whole process would be stalled. It has been reported over and over exactly as JBlue has stated above. She called it that same night, and she claimed victory. You bet that with only a little over 200 votes there would have been a recount but 7,000. Quit your crying. Look what it’s costing to count these again and, Wisconsin is broke!! Do you care?

  • Of course I care, Dodi, thus I would not have given away tax breaks in January, as Walker did.

    And yes, I believe Prosser would have (rightfully) called for a recount at 200, and likely even under the same conditions as Kloppenberg is now calling for. But all of this suspense around voting just reinforces the need for strong Voter ID!

  • John


    Creating make-work jobs that do not produce any value to those who buy the service/product is not what sustains an economy. We can hire people to dig a hole and other people to fill the hole up again. To the left, that is creating jobs. To the right, that is wasting money.

    While IMHO this is a waste of money, it is her right to request (see the law). However, it is better to have this expense now and chalk it up to the cost of democracy as opposed to hearing from the left the lie: ‘Prosser stole the election,’ for the next ten years.

    Don’t you agree?

  • John


    I see your point, but there is a law on the books. While this may not be something a conservative would do, it is the option of the losing candidate with a losing margin of less than one half of one percent to make.

    We need to learn from this experience and to throw this impractical waste back into the face of every lefty that claims that we need to raise taxes. Conversely, we need to be ever vigilent on our spending so that we do not become hypocrites on the issue of waste, too.

  • TROY

    Rumor has it, The Walker admin. will be issuing one teachers pink slip for every 100,000 spent . Taxes wont be raised, so all the millions of tax dollars the communists are wasting, can only result in endless layoff’s. Man, they’re so stupid.

  • John

    Jack,You wrote: Yes, Sam, the union bosses make upwards of $300K and I don’t support that level of pay, nor do I support public union gouging (where it exists).

    You miss the whole point of labor negotiations. ‘One side’ is allowed to ask for whatever they can get. The ‘other side’ is equally free to deny the request/demand and propose their own terms. That is what the free market is all about.

    I don’t even care if the unions do gouge the employer, so long as their is a level playing field. A union representing private employers have such a level playing field. A union representing public employees does not — those representing the taxpayers are sympathetic to the unions and their acquiesence to the union’s demand reflects this.

    You had claimed outrage at a board member of your company selling off company assets for person gain. Well, what do you think the representative of the taxpayer is doing when the same union which was granted a lucrative deal turns around, takes the PAC money from the dues of its members and then gives a healthy contribution to the taxpayer rep to get him/her re-elected?

    You wrote: But Walker doesn’t like unions because they only gave $1460 to his campaign, and there they were likely road building unions.

    How do you “know” that was his motivation? Do you have any evidence? Any report or transcript from an open mic where he said as much? I highly doubt. Your prejudice of Walker is showing again.

    What is you problem with Walker spending money to fix our roads?

    You wrote: We citizens are clearly pretty dense when it comes to our moneyed political system.

    Only when they base their ire on incorrect information, like that which you seem to spout off with regularity. Tsk, tsk, tsk…

  • TROY

    Contractors teacher list. For purposes of bidding,I want to know who these retired and unretired teachers are. I will bid teacher’s projects at twice the normal price. If they dont want to pay that much, oh well. There aren’t many contractors left to choose from. Teachers and the left will now allways pay through the nose. Payback’s a b1tch.

  • John


    I believe this recall will do the Democrats more harm than it will do to the Republicans.

    Historically it has been illustrated that the margin that Prosser has is too large for a reversal. In the mean time, the hope of the lemmings (Democrats) will be boosted on a false premise. They will even contribute money to this cause. During the recall process there will be many hours devoted by talk radio and even the national media on this race. In the end Prosser will prevail and the those who had been fed the false hope of a victory because of some gross Republican misconduct/fraud will be losers yet again.

    And, when the tax bills arrive (or layoffs are sent out) from those municipalities that rushed to extend union contract, who will be blamed for not waiting until the Budget Repair Bill was passed? Certainly not the Republicans who wanted it passed in the special session within the first hundred days of Walker’s term. It will be the Democrats…

  • I agree. Let’s let it happen and then fix the system.

  • John


    I agree completely.

    Was it incompetent? Maybe. Was it so incompetent that the election was lost to the rightful winner? Hell NO! That is why there is a canvass to double check for errors. It was the rush to report to AP and not carrying over the data from one source to another that caused the appearance of a mistake.

  • John


    What tax breaks did Walker give away in January?

    Of course Prosser would have called for a recount with a 200 vote loss.

    How was the failure of including the Brookfield votes in the Waukesha total to Associated Press impacted by some Voter I.D. requirement? That is a non-sequitor.

    We do need Voter I.D. and the elimination of same-day-registration. But, who is against that? Liberals. So, who offers the best chance for Voter I.D. to become law?


  • John


    The unions don’t care if teachers get laid off or fired. They are pawns in their larger game of political power brokering.

  • John, that’s absolutely the stupidest thing you have said (lately). Teachers generate dues which convert to dollars that allow union leaders to receive high paychecks. Duh.

  • John

    What makes you think the loss of even 20% of the labor force will negatively affect the pay of the union leaders? Are you that naive?

    Those who got fired would become martyrs and would be trotted out to illustrate the unfairness of Republican rule. The children that once were taught by these fired teachers would be ponied out to cry crocodile tears or march with signs to get their favorite teacher back…

    All public school teachers are unionized at this point in time. If you want to teach in a public school you MUST be a union member. There is no reason that the union boss needs to give two hoots to a teacher because the teacher has no option if they are working.

  • Boliver

    Any change in the vote totals during the recount should be reported to the GAB at once (hourly,daily,whatever fits the size of the area being counted) and if the totals at any time reach or exceed the .5 percent recount window, the challenger should be contacted and informed she will be responsible for the cost of the recall.

  • bananni

    Exactly! I really wish we could sue the disgusting communists make us pay lots of the money that THEY will put in illegal, fake votes and drag drag drag this. I have NEVER been as angry to ANY people in my life until now! The lefties need to move to Russia!

  • bananni

    She isn’t Kloppy, she is Krappy! The dems are MORE incompetent, liars, criminals! God bless Brookfield and Waukesha county!!

  • Tpartywarrior

    Justice David Prosser won…and so did WISCONSIN!

  • Brad

    We’re going to hear that garbage anyway.