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County Board candidate alleges ballot irregularities

in Spring Election 2018/Wisconsin news

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A former Marathon County Board candidate who lost by just two votes in the April 3 election is alleging that irregularities in the balloting process that have not yet been resolved, despite an April 13 recount.

Corrie Norrbom, who lost the race to represent Dist. 18 to incumbent Craig McEwen, alleges that two ballots from Weston Ward 13 are missing, while an unopened absentee ballot from Weston Ward 1 was disallowed due to the lack of a voter signature on the envelope.

Corrie Norrbom lost in the April 3 election by a 2-vote margin.

In the case of the unsigned ballot, Norrbom stated that the witness line on the ballot was signed, along with the line that declared that assistance with voting was required because of a disability.

“Did physical inability to sign the envelope disenfranchise this voter?” Norrbom asked, in a letter to Marathon County Clerk Nan Kottke and obtained by Wausau Pilot and Review.

Norrbom requested a recount, which was conducted Friday, April 13. During the hand recount, the result of the vote remained the same. But Norrbom, in her letter to Kottke, said the recount does not reflect those two missing ballots, nor does the recount include the unsigned absentee ballot.

Norrbom said that every attempt should be made to find the missing ballots.

In her letter, Norrbom states:

“At the recount, my representative asked for further detail on how the difference could have occurred between voters logged in the poll book and ballots counted, and what remedies might be available to reconcile the difference. The Canvass Board and Village Clerks present at the recount were willing to ​guess​ that two voters must have received ballots for another ward at the same polling location. A lengthy discussion ended with shrugged shoulders and a reference to “human error”. Although the official minutes for the proceedings read “Canvass Board determination was 2 electors were given a ballot from a different ward,” the only “determination” was an assumption. It is a plausible explanation, but elector counts have ​not​ been matched with ballots cast in other wards of Weston, and thus the ballots are still unaccounted for. If indeed there was a ballot distribution error, how/why might it have happened and what process can be developed to reassure voters that this will not happen again? If the 2 missing ballots are not accounted for, where are they?”

Despite the allegations, Norrbom said she is not challenging the final result of the election.

“I am publicly raising this concern on behalf of voters who want to be assured that everyone who legally casts a ballot in Marathon County can be certain their vote is counted,” Norrbom wrote. “To fail to do so undermines the ability of voters to feel confident that election results are accurate, which is the very cornerstone of our democracy.”

Kottke, in a Tuesday morning email to Wausau Pilot and Review, said she anticipates having answers by the end of the week.

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