Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

WI State Senate District 21 Recount Over: Lehman is Senator-Elect

with 3 comments

The recount for Wisconsin state Senate District 21’s 6/5/2012 election is over.  Former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) has won and is officially Senator-elect.  According to the Racine Journal-Times (under a “breaking news” header), Lehman’s margin of victory is 819 votes as opposed to the 834 votes he had after the official canvass; this means Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is now, officially, former Senator Wanggaard until and unless he files an appeal in District Court.

The Mount Pleasant Patch has a longer and better article, available here, that shows the final vote totals as Lehman 36,358, Wanggaard 35,539, and has a statement from Senator-elect Lehman:

“It shows that we won the election and all of these allegations of voter irregularities are false and are really much ado about nothing,” Lehman said. “The results from election night have been proven correct through tape and tallly totals.”

But, as I expected, Wanggaard is still crying fraud (from his statement):

“Anyone who argues that this recount was a waste of time, or that we do not need voter, ID, either wants to conceal these potential fraudulent activities or hasn’t been paying attention,” Wanggaard said in statement released this afternoon. “The list of problems now includes missing pages in poll books, missing signatures, wrong voter numbers, wrong and unverified addresses and most shocking of all, unsealed and sealed and reopened ballot bags – all without explanation. None of these issues would have been discovered if not for the recount.”

Of course, as I said all along, I was for the recount — for the same reasons I believed Joanne Kloppenburg deserved to know the truth regarding her race against David Prosser for the state Supreme Court last year.  She, too, ran into some real problems — much bigger ones, in fact, than Wanggaard — with regards to opened/unsealed ballot bags, ripped and torn ballots, tape totals that didn’t match, tape dates that didn’t match, and many other inconsistencies and outright errors — yet the Government Accountability Board still certified that election.  She went for a state-sponsored recount (as that race was within 1/2 of a percent and thus eligible for state assistance); many Republicans cried foul at the time, saying that the result was unlikely to change anything and because of that, Kloppenburg shouldn’t put the state through the recount.  Even with the problems in Waukesha County, which were legion.

And, of course, the recount didn’t change very much; the tallies tightened, but Prosser still won.  The only thing to come out of that recount was this: seventy-one of our seventy-two counties in Wisconsin do a good job conducting elections, while Waukesha County is a horror show.

In this recount, what came out is this: there were some inconsistencies.  Wanggaard picked up, roughly, twenty votes overall.  Some bags were open and/or torn, but not anywhere near to the point things were at in Waukesha County; the tape totals and tape dates were, for the most part, accurate — in short, this was a cleanly-conducted election that proves that Wendy Christensen, Racine County Clerk, does an excellent job even in high-turnout, record-setting elections like this one.

So now that the recount is over, whither Wanggaard?  My guess is that he’s going to attempt to tie this up another round and file a lawsuit in court alleging election fraud.  But doing so is unlikely to get him anywhere, mostly because the allegations of wrongdoing by Republican operatives are so much smoke and mirrors, meant to obscure the valid point that the voters have spoken and Wanggaard has lost.  (The fact that Democrats have also alleged problems with these same Republican operatives, including voter intimidation and “electioneering,” something that is illegal under Wisconsin law, just hasn’t seemed to get much traction, though the Mount Pleasant Patch mentioned it a week or so ago even though I can’t find the link right now.)

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my advice with regards to Sen. Wanggaard: The recount was worthy, but it’s over.  The voters have been heard; the original results stand.  Now, Sen. Wanggaard, it’s time to do the right thing, what the voters expected of you when they voted you out, and admit that John Lehman has won.  Then, go and enjoy the rest of your life.

However, Sen. Wanggaard, if you instead attempt a futile and time-consuming lawsuit a la former United States Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), you’ll only prolong both your own agony and the agony of your Senate district, with almost no likelihood of winning in court.  This will spend time, effort, and money to little purpose.  In this dismal economy, there’s absolutely no excuse for that.

That’s why I urge you, Sen. Wanggaard, to bow to the will of the voters of your district.  You’ve been voted out.  Now do the right thing, concede this election, and go live your life.  Because assuredly you have far, far better things to do than to file frivolous lawsuits in court.** 

And we, the voters of District 21, have far better things to do than worry about when our new Senator, John Lehman, can be sworn in.  Because in case you haven’t noticed it, Racine needs serious economic development, soonest.  So the sooner you, Sen. Wanggaard, do the right thing and bow out, the sooner he, Sen. Lehman, can get on with helping out the citizens of Racine (city and county alike).  Because we desperately need the help that only our duly-elected state Senator can provide.

———-

** Unlike state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), I do know what the word frivolous means and am using it precisely.

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3 Responses

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  1. […] WI State Senate District 21 Recount Over: Lehman is Senator-Elect … Go to this article […]

    • LOL!

      Seriously, I just hope he concedes rather than files suit in Racine County Court. Joanne Kloppenburg had far better grounds to do so in _her_ recount, but didn’t because she said the law was not on her side (more or less) . . . she said something like “the likelihood of prevailing isn’t great,” but that’s more or less what she meant.

      So if she didn’t think she could win, what makes Wanggaard believe _he_ will with far _less_ of a case than Ms. Kloppenburg had?

      Barb Caffrey

      July 4, 2012 at 11:12 am


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