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Kathy Nickolaus, America’s Worst Elected Official, Demoted for Wisconsin Recall Elections

Kathy Nickloaus

Kathy Nickolaus

You may remember Waukesha County (Wisconsin) Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. Last year, she miraculously found thousands of votes in a state Supreme Court election two days after the balloting, which threw the race to incumbent David Prosser over JoAnn Kloppenburg. A subsequent investigation showed that Nickolaus violated state law on her reporting of election results. Also, reports detailed her ties to top Republican operatives in the state (Prosser was a former Republican elected official).

Wisconsin held its Presidential primary last week and Nickolaus had more troubles. She was under order from the Government Accountability Board to deliver paper voting machine results so that the two-day omission never happened again. This became a disaster, as the electronic upload from the ballot machines to final databases didn’t work, and staff had to manually type all the data in by hand, with reporters physically checking the paper machine tapes to get a running count.

It was another embarrassment for Nickolaus. And now, she’s been demoted.

Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas said he would publicly call for County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ resignation unless she handed off her election duties in the upcoming recalls to her deputy clerk.

Nickolaus chose the latter. She agreed to allow outside consultants and county staff to work with her deputy, Kelly Yaeger, to handle the election, Vrakas said.

“The county will move swiftly to examine the election night procedures in the county clerk’s office and make changes as necessary to restore the public’s confidence in our elections,” Vrakas said in a statement late this afternoon.

Thousands of counties across the country have mastered the art of reporting voting totals on election night. Waukesha County just can’t seem to do it. Vrakas could only ask that Nickolaus step aside or resign, as she is an independent elected officer. But this demotion is essentially an acknowledgment that she doesn’t know how to do her job. She’s still allowed to give out the marriage licenses.

Brad Friedman, who I believe reported this first, adds that Nickolaus is up for re-election this year. That’s going to be one tough campaign. “Vote for Me: I’ve Recused Myself From Counting Votes, So Everything’s Fine Now!”

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David Dayen

David Dayen