Wanggaard gains three votes in first day of recount

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RACINE -- Election officials in Racine are recounting the ballots in the 21st Senate District recall race. It is a painstaking and tedious process with volunteer tabulators and observers from each political party watching over shoulders.

During day one, officials sorted through the Town of Dover, and Republican Van Wanggaard gained three votes there. While those votes were being tabulated, men and women in suits watched over the process.

"They`re just looking over the shoulders of the folks that are tabulating the ballots, and going over the recount and making sure everything goes smoothly," Justin Phillips, Wanggaard's campaign manager said.

The Government Accountability Board officially ordered a recount in a state Senate recall election Monday afternoon, June 18th. The recount comes at the request of Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard. An official canvass last week found him trailing Democratic challenger John Lehman by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast.

The election is significant because the state Senate currently has 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. The winner will give his party majority control, at least until November’s elections.

Officials say the recount will cost taxpayers more than $7,000. Wanggaard had to pay $685 to conduct the recount, and taxpayers will end up fronting the rest. The incumbent senator says the recount is worth it to make sure there were no voter irregularities on election night.

Wanggaard says he has heard several reports of suspicious activity.

"I've paid for what was statutorily required to do this recount. The recount makes sense to me. It's trust and verify, that is what this is about -- trust and verify," Wanggaard said.

Senator Lehman, however, calls the complaints vague. "We kinda wonder why they called for this recount, with such a wide margin. But now we're in the middle of that, just confident it will hold up." said Lehman.

The Racine Board of Canvassers has 13 days to complete the recount, and Racine County Clerk Wendy Christiensen said they expect to finish by July 2nd.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.