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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.

. 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

Johnny Blade June 29, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I read your story and the bags weren't TORN open .. some had a gap in the opening .. so hmmm is it the same
skinnyDUDE June 29, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Mayor Dickert has pretty much turned in to the City clown . Racine is becoming a slum . Schools and school board suck. People continue to leave the city and the school district . Racine homes are getting hard to give away and it is becoming a growing slum. Add in the voting fraud which is clear cut . It is fast becoming one of the worst places to live in the state.
jukap29 June 29, 2012 at 04:54 PM
if true, that just adds more fuel to the fire for why he's ruining the city with his arrogance and avarice... the guy needs to go, and soon, and how...
Denise Lockwood June 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Was going to talk to my regional editor about it... I'm trying to balance the recount stories with what's going on in Caledonia. It ain't easy.
Denise Lockwood June 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Just posted the video of the opened bags and the polling inspector being questioned.
Jeff Warg June 29, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Denise, It might be time for Patch to start a Racine edition. The Racine Journal Times has a habit of censoring some local news.
fande3rls June 29, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Sound to me as if the democrats are commiteing voter fraud , and the election be dismissed and the republican keep the seat , instead of letting another election be criminal stolen by democrats .
P June 29, 2012 at 05:51 PM
From the article about Waukesha County: ...he agreed with objector Bill Hotz's observation that **the bag opening from Brookfield was the largest seen so far:: Hotz said **poorly sealed bags or torn bags appear to be a common problem**, but they were evident on five of six Brookfield bags **He objected to the counting of those ballots where bags appeared to be open**. Brandon O'Bryon, representing Justice David Prosser, objected to the objection, saying Brookfield voters would be disenfranchised if their votes weren't counted. Brookfield City Clerk Kristine Schmidt said that **bags filled with too many ballots tend to tear when they're picked up. ... and when the bags are lifted, a gap can open up.** "Gap" was the word used by the Brookfield clerk to describe the phenomona. Wangaard, in keeping with the fear mongering, preferred to imply that someone had deliberated OPENED (and implying they had removed). The poll worker stated - she tried to seal the original bag and the seal wouldn't hold. So she put the whole thing in a second bag, and was able to seal that bag. That's less tampering than removing the original tape from teh first bag and re-taping till it's all a mess, isn't it?? You can clearly see it in the first four seconds of the video.
conservachick June 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM
When you take each incident one by one, it might not seem like much. But when you add up all of the irregularities, to borrow a quote from our illustrious VP, "It's a BFD". My eyebrows are raised. A lot of these problems can be pinpointed to just a handful of polling locations. Racine is looking like it is headed to become a city with a combination of Chicago style politics, with a touch of Detroit style devastation. Keep voting in the same school board and city officials and see how long it will be before the city will only be able to afford to keep half of its lights on, too. Do you not see that you are driving many working middle class families away? And when I say "working families", I don't mean strictly union working families like you do. You are making it perfectly clear that you do not want our input unless we are one of you. You're losing us the rest of us, Racine. Enjoy your solidarity.
P June 29, 2012 at 05:59 PM
PLASTIC BAGS AND DUCT TAPE. That’s our best effort at ballot security, ladies and gentlemen, as passed by our illustrious GOP in their bill that was to make sure there was integrity in all parts of the voting process. Plastic bags and duct tape – the best the GOP could think of while VOWING their concern was entirely for the quality and integrity of the process. !?!?!?!? Maybe next year they can use 8" wide tape to seal the bags, or get better bags. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if the legislature, in their great concern for improving the voting process, had actually talked to the people on the ground while doing their legislation to improve things. Maybe they should have passed a bill authorizing better bags and wider tape, during that special session. Since they are so concerned about the integrity of the process.
Waukesha Patriot June 29, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Now at least we know why the returns were so much later than all the others and how a 60% Wanggard/ 40% Lehman margin turned into a victory for Lehman. It takes time to fill out those ballots and stuff the bags once they realized Lehman lost.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 06:14 PM
@JeffWarg - we've heard from several city residents that they would like a Racine Patch. I have no pull, but I will make your wishes known to those who can pass it to folks who do have pull.
mau June 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
2. Place all voted ballots along with the Original Ballots envelope into the ballot bag or container. a. Secure the container or bag with a tamper-evident seal so that no ballot can be inserted or removed without breaking the seal. b. Complete the Ballot Container Certificate (GAB-101) on the ballot bag or container, recording the unique identifying number of the seal. c. This seal number should be recorded on the Inspectors’ Statement (GAB-104) as well. 3. The chief inspector and two other inspectors sign the certificate on the ballot bag or ballot container (GAB-101). (***** at least 3 people sign the form to verify the packaging of the ballots and that the bag was sealed properly) BALLOT CONTAINER CERTIFICATE for Regular and Irregular Ballots http://gab.wi.gov/sites/default/files/gab_forms/4/gab_101_ballot_container_cert_rev_6_08_g_a_b_12_0_16563.pdf
morninmist June 30, 2012 at 01:14 AM
What a stupid idea. That would only disenfranchise all the ballots (voters)!! Get real!!
dee50 June 30, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Just because Wanggaard’s campaign is questioning the bags does not mean the Republicans are automatically innocent of any wrong doing. How can anybody forget the FAKE dems on the ballots, etc, etc......I figure if there is any wrong doing throughout WI, not just Racine, I would first look at the Republicans.........Instead of Lehman winning by 800+, maybe it should have been over 5,000 or 10,000 votes.....We will never know!
James R Hoffa June 30, 2012 at 06:05 AM
@dee50 - So, let me get your point straight - the voters are going to support a man who drafted and implemented one of the largest tax increases that the state had ever seen, combined with one of the largest exodus of jobs, increase in poverty, increase in violent crime, increase of deficits/debts, and decrease in public education performance in his district, all during his previously served term, Lehman, over the man who was responsible for drafting more bi-partisan supported legislation during the last legislative term than any other state representative, was bringing jobs back to the area, was lowering taxes, was working to increase educational performance, etc, Wanggaard?!?! Yeah, cause that really makes perfect sense! You really do live in your own world, don't you? Don't you find it the least bit odd that turnout in certain wards in the City of Racine experienced a 500% increase in the number of voters casting a ballot in the recall election vs the Nov 2010 general election - the only place in the entire county to experience such a phenomena, despite a net decrease in the population of the City over the last two years?
James R Hoffa June 30, 2012 at 06:32 AM
@P - Apparently, you missed the most recent update - it would appear that at least a few bags were most definitely deliberately opened and then re-sealed with unofficial tape, but no one knows who opened the bags, why they were opened, and why they were improperly re-sealed! This is 10 times worse than anything that was seen in the Waukesha re-count when it comes to ballot preservation and integrity. The unaccountability in the chain of custody here is absolutely mind-boggling! A similar occurrence happened in ward 15, where it just so happens that the Chief Election Inspector, Michael Clark, had signed the Wanggaard recall petition - coincidence? Only in the City of Racine are such irregularities and problems occurring. Are the people of the City of Racine honestly that much more incompetent than the people in the rest of the old SD-21? http://mountpleasant.patch.com/articles/recall-recount-day-9-wanggaard-net-gain-still-20-ballot-bags-sealing-still-an-issue
Zigmond June 30, 2012 at 09:19 PM
The districts with the open bags accounted for disportianate Lehman +4,000 votes in these districts. If they start deducting these bags votes, guess who wins. I seem to remember the fight over bags with slight tears that could never let a ballot through, was a BIG F'n DEAL in the Prosser Klapper fight. Anyone see what I see?
Zigmond June 30, 2012 at 09:44 PM
An interesting theory of why Waukesha was always so late, so that Milwaukee/Dane Co. did not know how to stuff their (D) ballots. Sounds like it could be right on the $$$.
dee50 June 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM
@Hoffa, First off let's stay on topic, you know Election Fraud!!!! Second, let me remind you there was a big push by Dems such as U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee who made a stop in Racine the week before the Re-call. In addition, the Saturday prior to the Re-call Ed Schultz and John Nichols was in Racine and Burlington. For those that are not familiar with John Nichols, he writes for The Nation magazine and is an associate editor of The Cap Times (formerly The Capital Times, headquartered in Madison, WI). Regardless, of your personal feelings/opinions regarding the three above mentioned there was a BIG push by Dems in Racine to get the vote out (register same day) and the Democratic party felt they would win in Racine with help from the excitement that these three individuals help generate. Also, I would like to remind you that exit polls (extremely accurate prior to voting machines) showed that Obama lead Romney by a 51-42 margin. Huh? Diebold voting machines easily hacked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_exVfvC-cI Researchers Hack Voting Machine for $26 http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/30/researchers-hack-voting-machine-for-26/
James R Hoffa June 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM
@dee50 - You forgot to mention the Rev Jesse Jackson's visit to Racine the weekend prior to the election - or was his participation inconsequential in your personal opinion? Likewise, you also conveniently forget to mention the HUGE Tea Party rally that took place in Racine County just prior to the election, in your get-out-the-vote / excitement analysis. While the Dem- heroes only managed to draw a few hundred people each, if that, there were over 4,000 in attendance at the Tea Party Rally, according to all credible media reports. Sure looks to any reasonable person that the conservatives were far more 'fired up' than the liberals in Racine County were, based upon the support level witnessed at such respective appearances/rallies, wouldn't you say? There's goes that theory! But you're right about one thing - the more we learn about what happened in the City of Racine during the election, the more it starts to wreak of Robert Pastrick (D) style voter/election fraud in the City of East Chicago. A re-election of this contest should be ordered by a judge.
Zigmond July 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Hey Patch, Want a story? I did a little search on Celeste Walker, the dittz that can't remember to tag the bags, and found that there is one in Racine (moved here from Grand Rapids MI) that interchanges her middle name Celeste with her first name Mary quite often (uses same address), Mary Celeste Walker 59yrs old. And I saw that she is registered to vote (and she did vote in person 5/8/12) at TYLER DOMER COMMUNITY CENTER, 2301 12TH ST, RACINE. I looked on the GAB website and any poll worker/inspector can only work in their polling place. What is she doing watching over the King Center? Will you ask her? Bet NOT!
jukap29 July 01, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Exit polls are worth about as much as throwing a dart blindfolded -very much a shot in the dark Interesting stuff Zigs but I don't know, it seems like a stretch. And potentially explainable
morninmist July 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM
You only see your dreams. GAB and Kloppenberg let it alone. Meaning, it was clerical error and NOT voter fraud that is in your dreams.
James R Hoffa July 01, 2012 at 10:49 PM
@morninmist - Apparently, you're so drunk on defeat that you can't even make coherent sense in your postings anymore! In many of the wards in the City of Racine, there was over a 500% increase in the number of votes cast in the recall election vs the 2010 general election. The only place in the entire county to realize such a phenomena, despite the falling population of the City. And in those wards, the vote broke for Lehman by 40 points or more. Nothing even close to this was ever observed in Waukesha County. Let's get real here, shall we?
Zigmond July 02, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Pretty cut and dried, she was a poll inspector in a district other than her own. GAB rules say NO to that. Penalty for breaking ther law,???? In fact, today is her birthday look her up on the GAB site yourself 60yrs old today.
dee50 July 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM
@Hoffa, You stated to: "@morninmist - Apparently, you're so drunk on defeat that you can't even make coherent sense in your postings anymore!" Do you frequently try to demeanor other people's comments like the one above. Is this your way of trying to intimidate others if you don't agree with them? You knew exactly what morninmist meant and if you didn't how the heck could you respond to her comments. As I have said before your name here on patch "James Hoffa" is a perfect match for you!
James R Hoffa July 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM
@dee50 - misty and Hoffa have a history of conduct towards one another here on the Patch. Think of it as being more playful than hostile. As a liberal, I know that this advice will be hard for you to tomach, but you may want to stop assuming that you know everything, as you know what they say about assumptions...
dee50 July 02, 2012 at 05:09 PM
@jukap29 You say : "Exit polls are worth about as much as throwing a dart blindfolded -very much a shot in the dark" Actually exit polls are VERY accurate prior to voting machines....Hoe can anybody forget Gore vs Bush! http://freepress.org/columns/display/3/2012/1936 http://richardcharnin.wordpress.com/tag/exit-poll-data/
jukap29 July 02, 2012 at 05:51 PM
yeh, except for the fact that many people refuse to say who they vote for because they have integrity and wish for the votes to remain anonymous - the ones who report to exit polls are usually the narcissistic, histrionically-motivated "I want my opinion to be known cuz i am soooo proud of myself" people... generally the non-wonks want to be left alone and it's them and the overly self righteous who let you know what their opinion was. Did you ever read Animal farm? if so then think of it like this - People who report their votes to an exit pollster are the equivalent of the horse Molly in my opinion.

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