Candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg has accepted the results of the recount in the state Supreme Court race and conceded to incumbent Justice David Prosser.
Kloppenburg announced her decision Tuesday morning in Madison.
Kloppenburg's decision comes after a statewide recount reaffirmed Prosser's victory over her in the April 5 election.
Prosser originally won the election by 7,316 votes, out of 1.5 million cast. She picked up only 312 votes in the recount.
Prosser's campaign had said there was no basis for a challenge and it was time to move on.
After conceding on Tuesday, Kloppenburg said, "This recount should serve as a wake-up call to improve Wisconsin's election processes."
She admitted being defeated by about 7,000 votes but she said the number of the irregularities uncovered during the recount need to be addressed.
Kloppenburg noted that votes were found to be miscounted in every county, more than 150 ballot bags were found to be torn, open or unsealed. She particularly trained her concerns to problems in Waukesha County, where the elections clerk divulged two days after the election that 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield were not counted, swinging the vote total to Prosser's favor.
"Over 150 ballot bags containing tens of thousands of ballots were found open, torn or unsealed. Waukesha County had twice as many unsealed bags as any other county in the state combined," Kloppenburg said.
At a separate news conference Tuesday, Prosser issued a statement expressing confidence in the state's electoral system.
"I have enormous confidence in our election system, including Waukesha County," Prosser said. "The electoral system involves people, and people are human and people make errors. But when you look at the whole election, the number of errors is really very small. And I think the people of Wisconsin can have great confidence in the overall operation of our electoral system."
Prosser said that Kloppenburg had called him to congratulate him on his victory.
Prosser said he never doubted he won the election on April 5. He said he's glad the election is over and is proud to continue his work on the Supreme Court.
"We had an extremely vigorous campaign, then we had a recount. It has been an ordeal. But I have come through the experience with a greater appreciation of our political process," Prosser said.
Despite the cost and no change in the result, Kloppenburg called the recount "worth it" due to the irregularities and anomalies it uncovered.
She said changes need to be made to ensure the integrity of election results around the state.
"I call on the Government Accountability Board to take action along with local clerks to improve security, accountability and transparency of the election process in Wisconsin," Kloppenburg said.
Kloppenburg's campaign said it is sending a letter to the Government Accountability Board summarizing the "anomalies, irregularities and in some cases unexplained mysteries" discovered during the recount process.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker's proposal taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers. Conservative Walker backers largely backed Prosser while opponents of the collective bargaining bill lined up behind Kloppenburg.
Prosser's next 10-year term begins in August.
Initial results on election night showed that Kloppenburg had narrowly won, but the Waukesha County clerk announced the next day she had failed to report 14,000 votes. Those votes turned out to be the difference to give Prosser a narrow victory instead.