Every vote counts demonstrated once again

NOT THAT WE SHOULD need it, but periodically we get reminders here in Sheboygan County of how important each and every vote is in every election.

Several times in the past 10 or 15 years races for seats on town or village boards in the county have ended in a flat-footed tie, necessitating a tie-breaker – in both cases, a draw of cards as provided under state law – to determine which candidate won the seat in question.

Twelve years ago, the 9th District state senate election ended on election night with a 20-vote victory for Republican Joe Leibham over Democratic incumbent Jim Baumgart. That necessitated a recount, which resulted in a 46-vote margin of victory for Leibham.

Now we have another possible recount looming, this time for the 6th Congressional District Republican primary.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman finished a little more than 200 votes ahead of Leibham – who seems to have a penchant for close-shave elections – in the unofficial tally. That’s close enough that Leibham can ask for a recount at no expense to him.

State law allows that in any race decided by less than half a percentage point. Grothman’s margin of victory was around one-third of a percentage point.

The election saw the Associated Press declare Grothman the winner late Tuesday night when he held a lead of several thousand votes. But that came before final vote tallies were in from Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties – Leibham outran Grothman there by enough of a margin to force the Associated Press to “un-declare” a winner Wednesday morning.

The Sheboygan County votes were not fully tabulated until the early hours of Wednesday morning due to slow data entry and other computer problems – all of which County Clerk Jon Dolson took responsibility for.

That drew a sharp rebuke from County Administrator Adam Payne in an e-mail to County Supervisors last week. Among other things, Payne said of Dolson, “I am very, very disappointed in his job performance and no longer trust his judgment.”

That’s as far as Payne can go, as the county clerk is an elected county officer. But the county is putting a panel together to review the vote-counting procedures and ensure that last Tuesday’s episode is not repeated.

In the meantime, the result of the Grothman-Leibham race simply reinforces how important each and every vote is in every election.

The far-flung district includes all or part of 11 different counties in east and central Wisconsin. A few dozen more voters casting their ballot for Leibham in each of those counties could have swung the outcome his way. Equally, a similar number of voters choosing Grothman in each of those counties could have made the outcome at least a little less doubtful.

In any event, voter turnout district-wide was about 12 percent, or roughly one out of eight voters. That leaves seven out of eight who didn’t exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot and make a choice, helping to leave things still up in the air a week after Election Day.

Anytime you think your vote doesn’t count, you are wrong. And last Tuesday’s outcome is just more evidence to reinforce that.

At issue:
Grothman-Leibham race
Bottom line:

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