Clouds Gather Over City of Racine Election Procedures, Pollworkers

MacIver News Service | June 25, 2012 6:05 pm

[Racine, Wisc…] A Wisconsin Government Accountability Board official admits that poll workers in Racine did not follow the law when they allowed voters who registered on election day to obtain and cast ballots without signing the supplemental poll list.

“What is supposed to happen is that, they’re not supposed to get a ballot,” Michael Haas, Staff Counsel with the GAB said Monday afternoon. “The election official should not have given the person a ballot”

That statement reinforced the one Haas gave the MacIver News Service earlier in the day when we reported on the errors.

However, that same official now asserts that the discovery that thousands of individuals may have been mistakenly given ballots in the June 5th recall election should not disqualify their votes.

“If the election official, made an error and gave them a ballot, you don’t disenfranchise the voter,” Haas said. “The intent of their ballot can still be ascertained.”

The discovery adds even more controversy to an already contentious recount of the 21 Senate District recall election.

“We consider that to be an administrative error and the voter is not supposed to be penalized for an election official making a mistake,” said Haas. “The statute says, if you can ascertain the electors intent, failure to comply with the other provisions of the statutes don’t invalidate the ballot.”

As we reported, partisans are not disqualified from being poll workers. But today’s news regarding poll workers failing to obtain the signatures of thousands of voters on the poll lists comes in the wake of an earlier report by the MacIver News Service, which uncovered that as many as 78 of the 189 people who worked as official poll workers in Racine may have earlier signed recall petitions that ultimately forced the elections to be conducted.

Earlier this month, we also broke the story that the Racine County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the discovery of discarded election-related documents in the city of Racine.

In that case, what is at issue are election registration forms and partisan political literature found in a dumpster behind the Cesar Chavez Community Center in the City of Racine.

Eight of the 17 poll workers at the Cesar Chavez Community Center, including at least one of the Chief Election Inspectors there, appear to have signed a recall petition, according to the MNS report.

After the official canvass of election results, Republican Senator Van Wanggaard was found to have lost his recall election to former Democratic Senator John Lehman by 834 votes.

Wanggaard requested the recount, which began last week. Unless it receives an extension from a judge, the recount must be completed by July 2nd.

As of the time this story was filed, the Wanggaard campaign had challenged 116 votes in ward 2 in the City of Racine due to voters’ failure to sign the supplemental poll list. While their challenge was denied during the recount, the campaign has not said what their next steps will be and whether they would pursue any legal challenge to the ruling.

The MacIver News Service will have more on this story as it develops.