Open ballot bags questioned in 17th Senate District recount

Green County certifies results without 110 missing ballots
Open ballot bags questioned in 17th Senate District recount
Juneau County recount

A recount is nearly finished in the 17th Senate District democratic primary.

The district of nine counties includes Juneau, Richland, Grant, Lafayette and parts of Sauk, Iowa, Green, Monroe and Vernon counties.

Juneau County is the final county in the district to finish counting this week, and there were questions about poorly and unsealed ballot bags.

The Board of Canvass in Juneau County first voted not to count one bag of ballots from the town of Armenia when the bag was discovered to never have been sealed by the local clerk’s office.

“Because the bag wasn’t closed, I called the Government Accountability Board and checked with them as to what we should do,” Juneau County Clerk Kathleen Kobylski said. “The canvass board decided not to count any of the votes.”

But after checking with the GAB and confirming that election night results were the same, the board changed their minds and counted the votes.

Thursday, the Wittwer campaign objected to more bags saying they weren’t sealed well enough. Candidate Pat Bomhack was on hand to ask that the votes be counted, and the board agreed, saying the ballot numbers matched that of the election night reports. Bomhack asked local clerks to certify the chain of custody on the bags.

“So the only people, just for the record, whoever had this bag was either the deputy clerk or the clerk,” Bomhack said.

Kobylski admits results here may be challenged in court, but said voters should have confidence in the results.

“We haven’t lost any ballots or anything here, we have all the ballots,” Kobylski said. “[Voters] should still have confidence in the election system in Wisconsin.”

If the Juneau County results remain the same as election night, Bomhack would win the election over Wittwer by 33 votes rather than losing by 7 as initial totals showed.

Green County certified their election results Wednesday despite 110 ballots still missing. The GAB released a statement on their website Thursday saying the law allows the courts to intervene to resolve discrepancies and that boards of canvass are simply supposed to make sure ballots were counted properly.

Even if a court would reinstate those votes, by the new recount totals Bomhack would still win by five.

The winner in the 17th Senate District Democratic primary will ultimately face republican Rep. Howard Marklein in the general election in November.