Canvass: Lehman added to lead in Wis. Senate raceThe canvass found that Democrat John Lehman had 36,351 votes, or 50.6 percent, while Wanggaard received 35,517 votes, or 49.4 percent. The margin of victory was 834 votes, surpassing the 779-vote difference that stood before the canvass was conducted.
By: By Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press, Superior Telegram
MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin Democrats moved a step closer to winning a recall challenge in the state Senate when a vote canvass in Racine County on Tuesday padded their candidate's lead over state Sen. Van Wanggaard by 55 votes.
If the state elections board certifies the results, Democrats will have salvaged a single win after suffering bruising defeats in five other recall elections last week.
The canvass found that Democrat John Lehman had 36,351 votes, or 50.6 percent, while Wanggaard received 35,517 votes, or 49.4 percent. The margin of victory was 834 votes, surpassing the 779-vote difference that stood before the canvass was conducted.
The numbers aren't official until the state Government Accountability Board certifies the results. That's expected to happen next week.
Wanggaard would have three business days from when the GAB receives the county's canvass report to decide whether to request a recount. Wanggaard hadn't yet decided whether to do so, according to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate.
"The Wanggaard campaign will be considering its options regarding a recount over the coming days, and will make an announcement on its plans by the end of the week," said Dan Romportl, the group's executive director.
If Wanggaard does seek a recount, he'd have to pay part of the bill. Under the circumstances, given how many votes were cast and the margin separating the candidates, Wanggaard would have to pay $5 for each of the 137 wards. That means a recount would cost him $685.
Brad Wojciechowski, a spokesman for the State Senate Democratic Committee, said Wanggaard should take the high road and concede the election immediately.
"At this time a recount is only delaying the inevitable. It's only going to be wasteful to the taxpayers of Racine County," he said. "He has to pay $5 per ward, but we know recounts cost a lot more than $5 per ward."
Unofficial pre-canvass results put Lehman's lead at 779, but the verification process extended the lead by 55 votes.
So where did those votes come from? Some were from absentee ballots that arrived after Election Day. Other votes had been cast but not counted due to mechanical errors.
For example, in Ward 8 in the city of Racine, 60 votes from an electronic touch screen originally hadn't been reported, according to The Journal Times of Racine. Adding those gave Lehman 54 more votes and Wanggaard six additional votes.
At another site, 23 votes were not counted on Election Day because a voting machine jammed. Counting those gave 12 more votes to Lehman and 11 more to Wanggaard.
The outcome of the Lehman-Wanggaard race has been closely watched because the Senate is split 16-16, so the winner's party will take majority control. But for all practical purposes, that's not likely to make much difference. The Legislature isn't expected to convene again until January, and the November elections could lead to an entirely different shift in party power.
Still, a win would help Democrats salvage their pride after coming up short in five other recall races. The toughest loss came when Republican Gov. Scott Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by 7 percentage points, an even larger margin than in their first matchup in 2010.
The recalls were prompted by Walker's contentious plan to strip most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.