On Thursday, April 7, several thousand previously uncounted votes were discovered inthe Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice elections, upsetting JoAnne Kloppenburgâs initialvictory as fluctuating vote counts appeared to give incumbent Justice David Prosser acomfortable lead. Kloppenburg, a previously little-known progressive candidate, haddeclared victory in the elections following an initial ballot count on Wednesday that gaveher a slim 204 vote lead over Prosser. Prosser has served as a justice for 12 years and iswidely considered to be a conservative ally of Governor Scott Walker.Election officials cited a computer error as the main cause of the miscount, whichdid not include some 7,000 plus votes from the City of Brookfield in traditionallyRepublican voting Waukesha County. According to 2010 Wisconsin Journal Sentinelreport, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus had been criticized for her insistenceon using an antiquated personal computer to collect and store election data rather thanupdating equipment to the statewide system standards that were applied everywhereelse. Mary Spicuzza of the Wisconsin State Journal noted on her Twitter that âKathyNickolaus worked for Assembly Republican Caucus when Prosser was Speaker. Caucusis controlled by speaker, so he is her former boss.âOn Tuesday, April 5th, Wisconsin voters took to the polls in the first elections heldsince Wisconsin Governor Walker took office and introduced a string of controversiallegislation including a provision that would eliminate collective bargaining rights formost public employees. Many predict that the outcome of the election, referred toby some as a referendum on Walkerâs policies, could have serious implications onthe outcome of Walkerâs budget bill and anti-collective bargaining provision that arecurrently under litigation in a circuit court.Elections for the position of state Supreme Court Justice would normally receive littleattention, with the long-standing incumbents often securing a victory with little contest.However, the political struggle between state Republicans and popular opposition toWalkerâs Budget Repair Bill quickly pushed the election to the national fore as it becameless about the Supreme Court and more symbolic of an electoral effort to mobilize indefense of workersâ rights.While election results remained up in the air with totals switching back and forth betweenthe two candidates, the election has still proved to be significant for Wisconsin regardlessof its outcome. With nearly 1.5 million votes cast, 19 Wisconsin counties that previouslyvoted for Governor Walker in 2010 elections flipped in the Supreme Court election byvoting for Kloppenburg rather than Walkerâs ally Prosser.The election also set a record for the most money spent by special interest groups on TVads in the state of Wisconsin with both sides pouring in a combined total of over $3.5million dollars in the contest. The aggressive nature of some of the tv spots reflectedsome of the tensions that have been simmering in Wisconsin and the United States overlabor issues such as the right to collective bargaining. Public opinion, both on state and national levels, has shifted against Governor Walkerand his stance against collective bargaining, with a recent Gallup poll finding that 48%of Americans agree more with the unions as opposed to 39% who agree more withgovernors in state labor disputes.Meanwhile in Washington, Republican and Democratic Congressmen had failed to reachan agreement on the federal budget as Thursday came to a close. Government officialsand hundreds or thousands of federal employees prepared for the possibility of the firstgovernment shutdown since 1995, which would halt all non-essential and defense-relatedgovernment functions until a deal is reached.
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