Recall Recount Day 9: Wanggaard Net Gain Still 20, Ballot Bags Still an Issue
More than 58,000 votes have been recounted in the much-watched 21st Senate District recall race. Republican Van Wanggaard's net gain remains at 20, leaving Democrat John Lehman up by 814 votes.
Ballot bags continued to be an issue Friday during the recount of ballots in the 21st Senate District recall election.
Democrat John Lehman continues to hold a decisive lead — 814 votes — over Repubilcan Van Wanggaard. At the end of the night June 5, Lehman was declared the winner by 834 votes. Since the recount began on June 20, Wanggaard has picked up 20 votes.
But, as was the case Thursday, questions arose about why some bags containing ballots were unsecure.
As the ninth day of the recount was wrapping up, attorneys from both sides questioned City of Racine Deputy Clerk Donna Deuster about a bag from Ward 12 that was sealed with packing tape. Earlier Friday, Suzanne Matchie, the chief poll inspector from Ward 12, was called to the recount room to to answer questions about why the bag was sealed with tape.
Neither could definitively answer why the bag had been opened or why it was then sealed with packing tape. Deuster confirmed that had she seen it on election night, officials from Ward 12 would have been called down to provide and explanation and document the incident.
Republican attorney Jonathan Strasburg and Todd Farris for the Democrats sparred a little and even got a bit of an earful from one of Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen's deputies.
On the right, Strasburg and Wanggaard spokesman Justin Phillips say they're concerned with the security of ballots when bags are being discovered with partially opened seals.
"This is the worst ballot security I've seen in 20 years," Strasburg said.
"We didn't have any of these issues in other municipalities," he said. "If it wasn't for the problems in the City of Racine, this recount would have been over yesterday."
On Thursday, it was learned that nine bags containing ballots from the City of Racine were opened and then "double-bagged," or placed in a second bag.
Under Wisconsin's election procedures, after the polls close, election workers remove the voted ballots and place them into a secured container or bag. The bag is secured using a tamper-evident numbered seal,
But Farris says the controversy is much ado about nothing since the tallies are coming out nearly identical to what was reported on election night.
"If the tallies were vastly different, then I'd say we had a problem with tampering, but these delay tactics are prolonging the process," he said. "The problems with the bags are not effecting the outcome so the tampering theory only works if the ballots are changed before they hit the machine."
But one of the Christensen's deputies was having none of it.
"We are very concerned about the condition of these ballot bags, so we want to know why it's happening and keep it from happening again," she said. "The sloppy handling of the ballots is just atrocious."
Farris' comments clearly inflamed Strasburg, who told Patch outside the room that the recount is part of the democratic process.
"Then why have a recount at all? Isn't this about democracy?" he asked."The way the city administered this election makes the Waukesha County clerk look like employee of the year."