Opened Ballot Bags Raise More Questions in Recount
Campaign officials for Van Wanggaard call for an investigation into why nine bags containing ballots were opened and then put in other bags.
Officials with Republican Van Wanggaard’s campaign Thursday questioned why a number of 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, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
Ballot bags are supposed to have all potential openings secured in such a manner that no ballot may be removed, nor any ballot added, without visible interference or damage to that ballot container.
But Racine County Clerk Wendy Christiansen said that bags in nine of the 36 polling places in Racine in the June 5 recall election were found double-bagged.
Several chief polling inspectors, who were responsible for sealing those bags, were questioned by Wanggaard campaign officials as part of the recount process now under way at the Racine County Courthouse.
Officials with Wanggaard's campaign asked Celeste Walker, who was the chief polling inspector at the King Center, why the initial bag hadn't been sealed. Walker explained that she did the taping and sealing process improperly the night of the election and it wouldn't seal.
"I have done it properly in prior elections," she said. "This time my training failed me. I will ask for a personal demonstration in the next election so as not to cause the city clerk any undue distress."
Justin Phillips, Wanggaard's campaign manager, said there are still a number of polling inspectors who need to interviewed. He said the campaign has not filed a formal challenge.
"We're still trying to understand what happened," he said.
Democrat John Lehman defeated Wanggaard in the 21st Senate District recall election. Wanggaard asked for a recount on June 15, and the process started on June 20. Lehman leads Wanggaard by 814 votes. As of Wednesday, Wanggaard had picked up about 20 votes in the recount.
According to state statute, the recount must complete within 10 days, but because the 10th day for this recount lands on a Sunday, Christensen has until Monday to finish. An extension can only be granted after petitioning the circuit court