Computers are tricky beasts. We’ve all had our share of simple, avoidable mishaps: accidentally clicking “reply all” or saving an essential file where you’ll never find it again. But a Wisconsin clerk takes top honors on avoidable errors.
While tallying votes, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus forgot to click “save” – a mistake that almost gave the state Supreme Court election away to the wrong candidate. A windfall of votes flowed into the camp of David Prosser on Thursday, after she finally saved them in the tally system.
(More on TIME.com: See photos of the battle for Wisconsin)
A visibly-shaken Nickolaus appeared at a press conference Thursday to claim responsibility. “This is human error which I apologize for,” she said. Once she correctly input the data and clicked that elusive “save” button, 14,315 votes from the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield suddenly became valid. And what was a meager 204-vote lead for Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg turned, in a matter of minutes, into a huge runaway for Prosser, putting him ahead by more than 7,500 votes. Looks like Kloppenburg was a little rash in declaring victory.
Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election was a hotly-contested race between incumbent Republican Justice Prosser and current Wisconsin Attorney General Kloppenburg, a Democrat. In what would typically be a bland election, Wisconsinites voters turned out to the tune of 1.5 million on Tuesday, because the state’s Supreme Court may have final say on Governor Scott Walker’s controversial anti-union law.
The original 200-vote difference would most likely have prompted a recount. And now, given this issue of user error, it’s practically inevitable. This race isn’t over, folks.
(More on TIME.com: See why the battle for Wisconsin is in the court’s hands)