Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg announced Tuesday that she will not seek judicial review of the Wisconsin Supreme Court election results, congratulating Justice David Prosser on the win.
Initial counts from the election showed Prosser defeating Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes. A controversial recount -- the first statewide recount in more than 20 years -- showed Prosser with 7,006 more votes.
"The recount was always about much more than the small difference in votes between the two candidates," Kloppenburg said in the news conference. "Widespread irregularities, unintentional as they may be, around the state, along with the cascade of irregularities in Waukesha, make it clear that we must do more to ensure the electoral process in Wisconsin is beyond reproach."
Kloppenburg said the recount analysis found that votes were miscounted in every county in the state, with more than 150 ballot bags containing tens of thousands of votes found open, unsealed or torn.
"Waukesha County had twice as many torn, open or unsealed bags as every other county in the state combined. In many cases, municipal clerks in Waukesha testified the bags weren't torn when they left cities, towns and villages, so the security breaches occurred sometime when the bags were in Waukesha County's custody," Kloppenburg said.
In light of the irregularities in Waukesha County, Kloppenburg said she has sent a letter to the Government Accountability Board requesting an independent investigation of the election process within the county, adding, "We don't need to go to court to fix the election process in Wisconsin."
The issues Kloppenburg and her team found within the recount minutes related more to the back end of the election process than the front end, she said.
"There is scant evidence of individuals trying to vote fraudulently," Kloppenburg said of the recount results. "There is, however, ample evidence that the election processes by which ballots are supposed to be handled, recorded, secured and counted are not followed, because those rules are either misunderstood or ignored. As a result, thousands of votes were not counted, were counted incorrectly, or have been called into question."
This news comes on the heels of the passage of a controversial Voter ID bill that focuses mostly on individual voters.
Kloppenburg stressed that she did the "right thing" by requesting a recount, and she is also doing the right thing in her decision not to pursue a judicial review.
"Based on the record established in this recount and based on Wisconsin law, the will of the electors has been determined. It is time to learn from this recount, fix the problems it uncovered and ensure that future elections are different," Kloppenburg said.
Regarding the cost to taxpayers, Kloppenburg said the recount was worth it because "the integrity of the election process in Wisconsin is one of the highest constitutional protections we can provide to ensure that democracy is alive and well in Wisconsin," adding that the final cost of the recount "remains to be seen."
The interests of unions or "any other part of the Wisconsin electorate" played no part in Kloppenburg's decision, she said, adding that she "never heard from" the unions or felt any pressure from them. Instead, she "thought of the Wisconsin electorate as a whole."
"I did not have donuts with the union thugs this morning before I came to this press conference," Kloppenburg said.
Asked whether she would consider running for office again, Kloppenburg only said, "It was fun." However, in the meantime, she will continue her position as assistant attorney general -- an office she "never left."