The election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ended in a dead heat. When John described it as a “photo finish” earlier this morning, Prosser was up by 835. By the time all of the precincts from Milwaukee County belatedly reported later in the day, Kloppenburg had taken a lead of 311 votes out of 1.5 million cast (a huge turnout for such an election). A recount is virtually certain.
The Wisconsin Republicans had better get some very high-powered election lawyers at work on the case and do it now if they hope to win.
Doing so enabled George Bush to win in Florida in 2000. Not doing so handed the Washington governorship to the Democrats in 2004. The Republican Dino Rossi was ahead on election night and in the automatic recount that followed. But a hand count, and some very conveniently discovered absentee ballots in heavily Democratic King County (Seattle), gave the race to the Democrat Christine Gregoire. And not doing so handed the Minnesota senate seat to Al Franken in 2008. Again the Republican was ahead after election night, but the lead vanished in the recounts and dubious absentee ballots.
In both cases, the Republicans were outlawyered. Unfortunately Wisconsin election law practically begs people to commit election fraud. It has same-day registration, which allows people to show up at the polls, register with minimal ID requirements, and then vote. Don’t have ID? No problem! All you need is someone who is registered in the same city to vouch for you. According to John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, perhaps the country’s leading expert on voter fraud,
A 67-page 2008 report by investigators for the Milwaukee Police Department blew the whistle on what it called an “illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of [the 2004] election in the state of Wisconsin”—a swing state where recent presidential elections have often been very close. The report found that in 2004 between 4,600 and 5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots. Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once. The report found that in 2004 a total of 1,305 “same day” voters gave information that was declared “un-enterable” or invalid by election officials.
The long-term solution, of course, is to curb absentee balloting and require as much ID to vote as you need to get into airplanes and many office buildings these days.
But the short-term solution in this election, sad to say, is to lawyer up—to hire a Dobermann, if need be—before uncounted absentee ballots start appearing in the front seat of election officials’ cars as they did in Christine Gregoire’s Washington in 2004.