By Brian Fraley
A MacIver Institute Perspective
(Click on the photos for larger images)
What the heck is going on in the City of Racine?
If you found yourself asking that question in recent days, you're not alone.Since election night, Democrats have tried to put lipstick on their failed pig of an effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker by pointing to the fact that they won control of the Wisconsin State Senate by winning Senate District 21 by less than 900 votes of more than 71,000 cast.
The race was a rematch of 2010 and the initial results, if certified, would mean that incumbent Republican State Senator Van Wanggaard would lose to the man he beat less than two years earlier, former Democratic State Senator John Lehman. A Lehman victory would give the Democrats a 17-16 majority in the Senate.
And while the Dems control of the upper chamber of the Wisconsin Legislature is expected to be temporary (most political observers predict significant GOP gains when half the body runs for newly-drawn districts this November) Democrats are clinging to a potential Lehman victory as a tiny silver lining.
The recount process has uncovered a series of stunning revelations regarding ballot security.
As the MacIver News Service has noted: The Racine County Sherrif's department is investigating the discovery of some election documents found in a dumpster outside a City of Racine polling place; Many voters may bave been mistakenly given ballots without having signed the poll list as required by Wisconsin law; Some voters were given a ballot without providing their address at all.
Perhaps most troubling of all are the revelations that some ballot bags were torn open and resealed either on or since election night and the chain of custody for these bags and the ballots within them can not be ascertained.
Roseanne Kuemmel, a member of the Racine County Board of Canvassers responded to a comment made by a Democrat official that this is much ado about nothing: "We don't feel that it's nothing. I am very concerned seeing this stuff and we want to know why it is happening and prevent it from happening again...We're very concerned with what we've seen during this recount. The sloppy handling of the ballots, it's just atrocious."
Further fueling the suspicion is the fact that more than 70 of the poll workers in the City of Racine may have signed the recall petitions that triggered the recalls in the first place. When state election officials were certifying the petitions, they disqualified petition signatories from working on reviewing the documents for sufficiency. But they did not prohibit them from serving as poll workers on the recall election day itself.
The recount is scheduled to concluded by Monday. But stay tuned. Republicans may go to court to challenge the election's certification, using the time to further investigate these irregularities.
With Wisconsin's voter identification law in limbo thanks to a liberal Madison-area judge, Republicans say their concern over the potential for vote fraud this November has significantly increased.
The Racine debacle and subsequent investigation may not only determine the temporary balance of power in the State Senate, it may also serve as a vehicle to remedy other problems with the sloppy election day processes in the Badger State.
I've said before that conservatives should worry about the sloppy election procedures in Wisconsin, that we have an eviroment that is ripe for abuse.
Think about this: In a close race, the fate of the presidential election this November could hinge on Racine County Wisconsin.
Given what we've seen out of the City of Racine this month, that prospect should make Americans of every political stripe shudder.
Look for the MacIver News Service's continuing coverage of the 21st Senate District here and on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and our YouTube channel. Right now on our You Tube Channel (which had nearly a quarter million video views in June) we have raw video footage of the recount, including testimony of several poll workers whose comments only added confusion to the already murky accounts of what happened in the City of Racine. Our reporters and analysts send out regular updates via Twitter and Facebook as well. Don't miss out.