RACINE — The final tally from last Tuesday’s recall election show former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, defeated state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, by 834 votes.
The results totaled Tuesday increased Lehman’s lead by 55 votes, but Wanggaard as of Tuesday afternoon had not conceded and had not ruled out a recount, with his campaign manager citing reports of voting irregularities.
The final total was Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517 votes, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen read Tuesday after finishing the canvass for the 21st Senate District at the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave.
What the campaigns said
Brad Wojciechowski, spokesman for the State Senate Democratic Committee, called for Wanggaard to concede after final election results were read.
Soon after Lehman released a statement that said, “After today’s canvass, we are even more confident in our victory. I look forward to getting to work in Madison and focusing on new jobs for Racine County residents.”
But Justin Phillips, Wanggaard’s campaign manager, said, “We have three days to decide our course of action,” referring to a recount.
He said there were some election irregularities which have been reported in the 21st Senate District. But Phillips didn’t provide specifics. He said, “once we can confirm what irregularities or what perhaps voter fraud took place, we will move forward with those allegations.”
Additionally, Dan Romportl, the executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, issued a press release saying the Wanggaard campaign will announce a recount decision by the end of the week, adding “CERS (the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate) and the Wanggaard campaign have no further comment at this time.”
At Wanggaard’s house in West Racine, he had a small note posted on his door saying “Please, no press.”
“It’s Van’s decision now”
Neither Lehman nor Wanggaard were at the courthouse Tuesday for the results. But about 15 observers from both sides watched as Christensen totaled results and two television cameras sat pointed at canvassers during the hour and a half process.
State Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, who represents the Waterford area, was one of the people observing the canvass Tuesday. She serves as the chairwoman of the Senate Transportation and Election Committee and wanted to observe the canvass process. With the balance of the state Senate resting on this race, she also said she was very interested in the results. If Lehman is officially announced the winner, the state Senate will have a 17-16 Democratic majority.
She said if voter ID had been in place she thinks voters would have been able to have more confidence in their votes, without disenfranchising anyone.
But as far as if there should be a recount, Lazich said, “I think it’s Van’s decision now.”
If there is a recount, Wanggaard would have to pay a $5 per ward fee. Since there are approximately 135 wards in the 21st Senate District, he would have to pay about $675.
If there is no recount, Lehman could be sworn in as soon as the Government Accountability Board certifies results, according to Michael Haas, a GAB staff attorney. The date of the GAB certification depends on when all counties get their canvass results in, he said. The GAB must certify results by June 23 at the latest, Haas said, but it could be done by early next week.
Where the vote changes came from
Both candidates added votes to their total in the final count due to absentee ballots and some missed votes at the polls.
In the city of Racine’s Ward 8, a total of 60 votes from the electronic touchscreen originally had not been reported. Counting those gave former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, an additional 54 votes and gave state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, an additional six votes, according to numbers read during the canvass.
A voting machine at one poll was also jammed during the election and 23 votes were uncounted on election night, County Clerk Wendy Christensen said. Counting those votes gave Lehman an additional 12 votes and Wanggaard an additional 11 votes, according to canvass results.
After the election, Christensen said there were 578 outstanding absentee ballots that hadn’t arrived by Election Day. But she said only a handful usually come in.
Tuesday Christensen didn’t have a late absentee count. But in the city of Racine there were only 19 late absentee ballots turned in, according to Assistant City Clerk Donna Deuster.