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Green County ends recount without missing ballots

  • Associated Press
  • August 27, 2014 - 8:20 PM

MONROE, Wis. — Election officials in one Wisconsin county finalized the results of a recount in a close primary for the state Senate on Wednesday even though more than 100 ballots remained missing.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1oq7qp9 ) the Green County board of canvassers certified the results of a recount in the Democratic primary for the 17th Senate District in southwestern Wisconsin.

Spring Green attorney Pat Bomhack asked for the recount Friday after results showed Ernie Wittwer, a former state Department of Transportation budget director, ahead by just seven votes.

Bomhack picked up 28 votes in the recount in Monroe, where the ballots were lost. It's not clear yet who won the primary because two counties in the district have yet to finish their recounts.

Wittwer said he was going to talk to an attorney before deciding whether to challenge the Green County canvassing board.

"This has shattered my confidence in the voting process," he said.

Monroe City Clerk Carol Stamm told the canvassing board Monday that 110 ballots from the city were missing. An investigation didn't provide solid answers. Stamm told the board that a pollworker may have mixed used ballots at a polling place in the basement of Monroe's city hall with unused ballots that were destroyed after the election. She said it's also possible that someone took the ballots right after polls closed on election night.

Monroe police are looking into whether a crime occurred.

"Losing ballots is one thing; somebody stealing the ballots is another. That's a felony," Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley said.

One of the three members of the canvassing board voted against certifying the results without accounting for the missing ballots. Barbara Woodriff, who represents the Democratic Party in Green County, suggested the board use the official tally as of Aug. 12 for the city of Monroe and recount the remaining wards.

But Green County Clerk Michael Doyle, who chairs the board, said it can only consider the ballots it has now.

"We have to certify with the ballots that we had at the time of the recount," Doyle said. "We have an obligation to not guess what happened to those 110 ballots."

Wittwer led in Monroe on election night by 186 votes. Without the missing ballots, his lead was reduced to 158 votes.

Juneau County and Richland County have yet to finish their recounts.

The winner will face Republican Rep. Howard Marklein for the seat held by retiring Sen. Dale Schultz, a moderate who cast the lone GOP Senate vote against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's union law.

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