Waukesha County to update election system in advance of Nov. election

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WAUKESHA – Waukesha’s County Executive Dan Vrakas has announced plans to update the County’s election system in advance of the November elections. A project to develop election system requirements and business processes will be conducted along with a needs analysis for new election hardware and software.

A recent report by the County’s outside elections consultant, SysLogic, identified some shortcomings and inefficiencies of the current elections system. 

The current system is highly complex and requires information to be manually keyed-in requiring significant review before publication of unofficial results.  New election equipment will automate the process which will increase efficiency, accuracy and timeliness of vote reporting.

“Waukesha County is a rapidly growing County and in recent years the number of reporting units in the County has increased. This, coupled with the collecting, tallying and reporting vote totals, have made the process cumbersome.  The goal is to automate and streamline the system as much as possible to prevent human error,” Vrakas said.

During the April 3rd presidential primary election, former Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus and her staff posted results on the wall outside the clerk’s office for the media to tabulate.

That led to changes in how votes are reported in Waukesha County beginning with the May primary election.

Municipal clerks tabulated totals from two pieces of equipment at poll sites, added those totals together, and entered the totals into the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board’s canvas system, instead of driving the results to the Waukesha County Clerk’s Office.

In April of 2011, more than 14,000 votes in the City of Brookfield were not initially counted, after Nickolaus didn’t press “save” on the computer. “This is human error, which I apologize for,” Nickolaus said last year.

When the mistake was discovered, it flip-flopped the winner in a close Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Joanne Kloppenburg was no longer the victor – David Prosser was. After that, Nickolaus worked with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on a process to check the numbers. Nickolaus says that is what slowed down vote counting.

Following April’s election in 2012, Nickolaus handed off her election duties to the Deputy County Clerk. This, after County Executive Dan Vrakas gave Nickolaus the option of resigning altogether.