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The Wisconsin Judge Election and Clemenceau

Maybe the Wisconsin Republicans won’t need those lawyers after all. Justice David Prosser has taken a substantial lead in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race with the discovery that the votes of an entire town in heavily Republican Waukesha County had not been added to the totals. When they were, Justice Prosser went from 204 votes down to leading by more than 7500, probably enough to eliminate an automatic state-wide recount.

The development quieted expectations that the race would be decided in a statewide recount. But it also set off a wave of skepticism from Democrats and union supporters, who had viewed the contest as an outlet for their fury at the Republican cuts to collective bargaining rights. Those forces had supported the challenger, and said they found it convenient that votes for the incumbent, Justice David Prosser, were suddenly discovered.

Unfortunately for them, the vice chairman of the Waukesha County Democratic Party—a classic, grandmotherly Midwesterner type—was at the canvas where the mistake was discovered and said at the press conference last evening that adding a net of 7500 votes for Prosser was entirely kosher (it’s at about 13:30 on the tape). So it looks as if Prosser, and Governor Walker’s reforms, will survive.

But this electoral minidrama just adds more evidence—as if evidence were needed—that the way we cast votes (and register to do so) and count them in this country needs a top-to-bottom overhaul, using the latest technology. The only reason that hasn’t been done is because political parties, who usually control the bureaucracies that run elections, prefer the fraud-riddled, wildly inefficient, and highly inaccurate system we now have.

But to paraphrase Georges Clemenceau, elections are too important to be left to politicians.



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