U.S. Senate Candidate Kevin Nicholson’s conversion from Democrat to Republican in the early 2000’s has already become a campaign issue even though Nicholson, at the moment, is the only announced Republican candidate for the 2018 GOP primary. One particular element of that conversion continues to haunt Nicholson; whether or not he voted for a democratic candidate for president in the 2008 primary.
Nicholson insists that he casts a no preference vote. Because of a secret ballot he can’t prove that and legitimate questions about his claim have been raised. Politifact Wisconsin published a piece on the issue Thursday where they refrained from using their “truth-o-meter” to make a definitive determination on whether Nicholson is telling the truth. That didn’t stop the Democratic Party of Wisconsin from firing off a news release with the headline
ICYMI: Politifact confirms records show Nicholson voted for Clinton or Obama
But the Politifact piece reports no such thing and in fact concedes: “With secret ballots, there’s no way to know for sure. That’s why we’re leaving aside our Truth-O-Meter for this item.” The piece does indeed include the line: “And what records are available indicate that Nicholson did not cast a “no preference” vote in 2008 as he says he did.” Yet its own reporting leaves that claim very much in dispute.
Politifact does link to voting records reported by a television station showing that no one in Nicholson’s North Carolina precinct voted “no preference.” Nicholson (without evidence) has claimed those records are wrong. And later in the report, Politifact offers a quote from a North Carolina election official that calls the origin of those records into question:
Boyles told us his records show one person in Nicholson’s precinct voted no preference, but that he couldn’t say whether that ballot was cast early, or on election day, as Nicholson did. He said in an email:
Unfortunately, the reporting software used on Election Day at the county level merges the “early voting” results with the Election Day results before it is displayed to the public. Several news media outlets from the Wisconsin area have displayed a spreadsheet or graph that is not being produced in our office. These appear to be genuine reports from the state or other outside source. Unfortunately, I have not be able to duplicate the report.
Politifact’s claims “the only records available indicate that Nicholson did not cast a ‘no preference’ vote,” yet also reports that an election official says he has records showing that someone in Nicholson’s district did and that the records referenced by Politifact cannot be duplicated by that election official.
The issue of whether Nicholson voted for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or any other Democrat for president in 2008 is indeed an open one that Nicholson has been unable to put to rest with multiple attempts at explaining it. And if he doesn’t find a way to prove he did vote “no preference” it will likely haunt him throughout the campaign and be used by Republican rivals that may also enter the race.
But Politifact’s reporting also doesn’t definitively establish that he did vote for Clinton or Obama. Nor does it claim to; regardless of what headline the Democratic Party of Wisconsin puts on a news release.
*In light of Dick Uihlein’s contributions to a Super Pac supporting Kevin Nicholson’s Senate run, we feel it necessary when covering the Senate race to disclose that we receive $100 thousand a year from the Ed Uihlein Foundation for the Media Trackers project.*