RACINE (AP) — A recount that didn't change the outcome of state Sen. Van Wanggaard's recall loss has left Racine County taxpayers with a bill of about $5,400, according to county figures released this week.
The official canvass following the June 5 elections showed Democratic challenger John Lehman leading Wanggaard by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 ballots cast, or 1.2 percentage points.
Democrats urged Wanggaard to concede, saying the margin was too large for a recount to change the outcome. But Wanggaard's campaign said it was concerned about reports of voting irregularities and wanted to ensure the outcome was accurate.
The recount took 13 days and ended with Lehman holding an 819-vote lead.
Based on the number of votes cast and the margin separating the candidates, Wanggaard had to pay $685 to request the recount. The total cost to the county was about nine times that amount, according to figures provided to The Associated Press by the Racine County clerk.
The largest expense was the cost to rent memory packs, devices that store votes electronically. County clerk Wendy Christensen did not immediately return a message asking about the memory packs. But Reid Magney, a spokesman for the state elections board, said the county likely had to rent new ones because they had to preserve those that originally were used.
The memory-pack rental cost about $4,200, and members of the Board of Canvass were paid about $1,800. Office supplies cost another $70.
The total came out to just less than $6,100. Subtracting Wanggaard's fee, the bill to taxpayers is about $5,400.
After the recount, Wanggaard wrote an editorial in his hometown Racine newspaper outlining what he called a series of voting irregularities on the day of the recall election. He accused election officials of accepting improper proof of residence when registering voters at the polls. He also took issue with poll books that newly registered voters are asked to sign, alleging some books were missing dozens of pages or had incomplete information.
"It was completely justified to ask for a recount, and Van paid a portion of the cost with his campaign funds," said Dan Romportl, a spokesman for the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. "Five thousand dollars for a recount that exposed the absolute carelessness that City of Racine officials use when conducting elections was well worth the cost."
A message left with Democratic state Sen. Mark Miller, the Senate majority leader, was not immediately returned.
Democrats forced Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Wanggaard and three other GOP senators into recalls earlier this year. The move was payback for the officials supporting Walker's push to strip most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights and require them to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits.
Wanggaard was recalled, but the other five Republicans successfully defended their seats.
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