Those of you who are following the Wisconsin recalls probably remember the name Kathy Nickolaus. She’s the scandal-plagued Republican county clerk of Waukesha County — a Scott Walker stronghold — who earned national scrutiny after she suddenly found thousands of votes that had disappeared through “human error” — helping Republicans win last year’s nationally watched state Supreme Court race.
Now the Wisconsin media and some Wisconites are asking if she’ll be involved in vote counting again tonight — and they’re asking who, exactly, is running this election in Waukesha County, where vote totals could be crucial to a Walker victory.
I just got off the phone with the Waukesha county executive’s office, where an official assured me she won’t be involved in vote counting this time around.
“She has agreed to step aside and she has assigned duties to the deputy clerk,” Shawn Lundie, the chief of staff in the county executive’s office, tells me. “She will not be involved in the vote counting this evening.”
The problem, though, is that similar assurances were given a month ago, during the Wisconsin recall primaries on May 8th. But even though Nickolaus had recused herself, she surprised some observers when she was spotted in her office reviewing election returns, according to local reports.
I pressed the county executive’s chief of staff a bit further on what’s going to happen tonight. Lundie told me that she could very well be in the office, as is her right under Wisconsin law.
When I asked if there were any assurance that Nickolaus would not be involved in vote counting, Lundie replied: “The assurance is Kathy’s word that she has delegated responsibility.”
This is no small matter. Even the pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board has called on Nickolaus to step down, in order to ensure that Wisconsinites can have “confidence” in tonight’s results.
If Walker wins tonight, as many predict, it may well come via late returns from Waukesha county. And if the race is close enough to merit a recount, as some have predicted, there could be some intense battling over those late returns. And so, whether Nickolaus is involved in any way in vote counting tonight will be closely watched by many parties, and not just labor and Dems.