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Why recounts are a vital part of election process9

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Message Joanne Kloppenburg
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originally published by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at  http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/121958509.html

The recount process in Wisconsin is unfolding as prescribed by Wisconsin law. Votes are recounted in all 72 counties, and an official record is made of that process. When the Editorial Board says the recount is a "mere preamble to the court challenge," it is wrong on the facts and wrong to prejudge my intentions.

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Wisconsin law specifically anticipates that there may be court challenges to the recount, but those challenges can only happen after the recount is done. The recount is not "merely" a preamble to anything: It is a process that proceeds in prescribed ways when an election is this close.

As I and my campaign have said repeatedly and consistently, I have not made the decision about whether to request judicial review. Once the recount is done and the record is complete, my attorneys and I will carefully review the evidence in that record and I will make a considered judgment based on the law and the facts. The Editorial Board has no evidence other than politically motivated claims by my opponent and his supporters on which to base its statement that "it appears" I will challenge the recount in court.

And, finally, it is the height of cynicism and the worst of politics as usual to undermine the rationale for, and benefits of, this recount in order to try to score political points as Justice David Prosser's campaign continues to do. When races are this close, there is a significant public interest established both by statute and by common sense in determining that votes were counted and counted accurately.

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The recount has uncovered significant and widespread errors and anomalies in the securing of ballots and recording of votes on election day. There have been changes to vote totals in every county due to miscounted or missing votes.

Many bags of ballots have been found to be essentially unsealed or ripped to the extent that ballot security is compromised. A stack of ballots, unbagged, was found in a clerk's office. Ballots were found in voting machines where they had been left. Seal numbers on ballot bags and tags were not recorded in the inspector's reports, creating doubt that the bags were properly sealed on election night.

Touchscreen voting machine tapes were missing votes, or worse, were entirely blank and had to be reproduced from machine memory to allow a recount of the vote.

The most widespread and systemic errors and anomalies have been discovered in Waukesha County. That county was already under a cloud, and this recount has revealed more questions about elections practices there.

This election was close, and there were many who have expressed doubts about whether it was clean. The right to vote is fundamental. It is a right that courageous people fight and die for every day. In America, that right carries with it a promise: that elections are fair and open, that election results are untainted by deceit or fraud and that the electoral process provides every eligible voter with an equal opportunity to privately and independently cast a ballot.

In order to make that promise real, there are appropriate and established steps that help make sure the outcome of elections, when in doubt, can withstand scrutiny. That, no more and no less, is exactly why this recount is so important.

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JoAnne Kloppenburg is an assistant attorney general who ran against Justice David Prosser in April, in an election the outcome of which is still being determined.

 

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Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Kloppenburg has been a litigator and prosecutor at the Wisconsin Department of Justice since 1989, serving under Attorneys General from both parties: Don Hanaway, Jim Doyle, Peg Lautenschlager and JB Van Hollen.
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Why recounts are a vital part of election process9