There's been a lot of sound and fury after the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker, and, in my humble, most of those sound-ers and fury-ers have got it wrong. Whatever voters thought about the recall process toward the end, whatever mistakes Walker's opponent made, whatever unions did or didn't do, blah blah blah, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments is only really justified if directed at the source of the problem: money. It's not any more complicated than that.
Whether the result of some loophole in Wisconsin law or the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, the fact is Walker was running around the country long before the election, raising $37 million and inundating our airwaves with ads. He was further aided by a number of PACs that don't have to divulge their donors. One of them specifically targetted the constitutionally protected recall process as "against the Wisconsin Way."
Don't fall for any other explanation, please. Why? Because at the height of the dust up and before his rabid fundraising went into overdrive, public opinion not only supported the recall process but tilted against Walker:
February 28, 2011: More Side with Wisconsin Unions than Governor
By a modest margin, more say they back Wisconsin’s public employee unions rather than the state’s governor in their continuing dispute over collective bargaining rights. Roughly four-in-ten (42%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 31% say they side more with the governor, Scott Walker...
July 13, 2011: Gov. Walker, lawmakers fare poorly in poll
With recall elections looming, more than half of state residents disapprove of the job that both Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers are doing, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
The University of Wisconsin Badger Poll also found that state residents overwhelmingly approve of the state’s recall process...
November 14, 2011: New poll shows majority support Walker recall
The poll showed that 58 percent of respondents believe Walker should be recalled from office. That compares with 47 percent ]]who said in April that he should be recalled.
The growth in support for a recall came, surprisingly, from Republicans...
Advance polling going on up to the election had Barrett and Walker alternating in the lead or neck and neck. On election night, right when the polls closed at 8 PM, news outlets announced that exit polls showed the race "too close to call" with Barrett and Walker 50/50. It isn't clear how, but less than an hour later, with voters still standing in line to vote in some areas, the media called the race for Walker with only a quarter of polls reporting.
A coalition of public advocates has raised questions about what happened and is calling for a hand recount of computer-scanned paper ballots. There's not a whole lot of media covering that story, but here are some reports:
[C]oncerns were amplified when citizen-observers monitoring the Racine Senate recount decided to also double check the gubernatorial race. The results were extremely disturbing- in the Racine precincts where observers were stationed, statistically significant differences were found between the recounted totals and the official election night totals. Even more troubling, in EVERY case these disparities benefited Walker over Barrett, drastically decreasing the likelihood they could've be caused by random error.
Sometime after final testing of Waukesha County's election software - but before the April election - County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus mysteriously changed something in her office's computer programming, according to a consulting firm's report released Tuesday.
Only Nickolaus knows what she did. The consultants can't figure it out, and she's not talking.
On this blog, I have reported on my own attempt to satisfy my curiosity about the Recall Election outcome in Crawford County, which Walker won even though the county voted a comfortable win for Obama in ’08, Barrett in ’10, Shilling in the Senate recall election, yet, as in so many other rural areas in Wisconsin, Walker won Crawford County by 100+ votes.
So, one day, after the June 5 election I went to County Clerk’s office to get more information about the details, only to discover that the Command Central provided memory cards that hold the official vote count weren’t there; they had already been sent back to Command Central’s office near St. Cloud Minnesota on June 14, a full week before the June 21 deadline when election materials are to kept secure for citizen inspection or the possibility of a recount.
Thom Hartmann takes a look at serious concerns over electronic voting machine irregularities that may have been responsible for helping Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker win the recent recall election. [Video, 13:23]
There are different schools of thought on all this, of course. Some want to fight on; some just want to move on. Either way, an election stolen by money or manipulation means democracy is in trouble, if not downright brain dead and on artificial life support.