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Ballots missing in recount
MONROE - Green County officials discovered as many as 110 ballots from the city of Monroe were missing Monday during the recount for the Democratic primary election for the 17th Senate district.

Pat Bomhack called for a recount Friday after losing to Ernie Wittwer by seven votes, according to county canvass numbers reported Wednesday, Aug. 20. The votes for the 17th Senate district, which covers nine counties, showed a hair's breadth margin in favor of Wittwer at 3,847 votes to Bomhack's 3,840 votes.

The canvass in Green County came back last week with the same numbers as reported the night of the primary electon on Aug. 12. In Monroe, the votes showed 523 for Wittwer and 337 for Bomhack. Green County totals did not change either, showing Wittwer as the winner with 687 votes and Bomhack with 458.

But county officials discovered Monday that the official ballot count was about 110 votes higher than the number of ballots sent over in three sealed bags by the city to the county clerk's office, Monroe city clerk Carol Stamm said.

Stamm said the election results on the city's part were well documented, with all ballots counted and bags sealed, signed and verified with serial numbers.

"Everything on our part matches," Stamm said. "I want to let the people know that we did everything we were supposed to do."

The City of Monroe's municipal board of canvassers is made up of Stamm, Ron Purintun and Janet Zee.

Stamm speculated that a stack of unused ballots might have been placed on a stack of used ballots, and then were all placed on a pile of unused ballots.

The Government Accountabilty Board issued a statement over its website saying that it is "providing advice to the Green County Board of Canvassers on procedures for dealing with the discrepancy and completing a thorough investigation."

Wittwer and Bomhack attended the Green County Board of Canvass meeting Tuesday, among about 15 people that included City Administrator Phil Rath and a few members of the public. The candidates found out about the missing ballots on Monday. They met to discuss what the next step is in recovering the lost ballots.

"It's not good for me, because I won Green County," Wittwer said.

Green County Clerk Mike Doyle discussed the situation with attorney Michael Haas and was advised to immediately contact the Monroe Police Department so they can interview the 17 poll workers present at the Aug. 12 primary.

Stamm said police searched all of city hall Tuesday, and no ballots were found.

A member of the county's board of canvass asked that the machine used to tally the votes be checked to see if any stray ballots are in one of its compartments. The vote-tallying machine provides a total of the ballots placed in it but not a tabulated voter-by-voter diagnostic. The machine has been double-checked already, but Doyle said the machine will be checked a third time at the next board of canvass meeting.

Doyle said the results of interviews with pollsters will be brought back to the board of canvass as soon as possible. He said if the ballots are found, he isn't sure if they could be officially counted due to the lengthy period they were missing, and the possibility that they could have been tampered with.

The winner of the primary will face Rep. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, in the November election.

The Senate seat has been held by Republican Dale Schultz since 1991.