Primary ballot an invitation to dirty tricks
The recall for governor is a lesson in how not to manage an election.
The final lesson came last week at the primary election to select the Democratic opponent to Gov. Scott Walker. Tom Barrett outdistanced the field to earn that spot in the June 5 election.
The recall finale is a rerun of the regular election in which Walker beat Barrett.
The ballot presented voters was surprising, disappointing and a break from the historic conduct of primary elections where the political parties were defined and split ticket voting prohibited.
My mother Connie has been working elections in Amherst Junction for more than 50 years. She was surprised that there was a single ballot to vote for governor and lieutenant governor.
"I never saw anything like it," my mother said. "We have an open primary in Wisconsin which allows voters to select the party they will vote for at the poll on Election Day, They get a Democrat ballot and a Republican ballot, mark one and discard the other when they are done voting."
This "party protective primary policy" has been inviolate and even prevented people from casting crossover votes when determining the state and county tickets for the regular election.
This is particularly frustrating in Waupaca County, and similar party-dominated counties, where there seldom is an opponent on the final ballot on the Democratic ticket. Portage County is just the opposite.
I often puzzle over casting a vote for governor and selecting the candidate for sheriff, clerk and other county offices at the primary.
I seldom cast a straight party ticket in a general election.
Setting the primary ballot was just the final act of the Government Accountability Board which oversees elections in Wisconsin.
There was no blue print for this election because recalling a governor is extremely rare. This is only the third time in the history of the United States.
Every step of the process has been controversial from setting time lines for petitions and filing, to certifying signatures on petitions which the GAB took an "eyes off" pass on.
The election process in Wisconsin continues to become more confrontational and controversial. It also increases the cost of doing the people's business by adding unplanned elections to the local budget.
Special interest money will dominate the next few weeks, blurring fact from fiction to influence undecided voters to back the candidate they believe supports their agenda.
The Amherst Junction electorate had a clean election with a balance between Democrat ballots for governor and lieutenant governor.
Some people voted on both tickets for governor, voiding their vote, my mother said. "The ballot was stupid."
New London results showed some crossover with 109 votes for lieutenant governor of a total 1,366.
Statewide, the Democrat candidates pulled 665,436 total votes. The lieutenant governor race collected 758,071 votes - indicating a crossover of about 96,000 votes.
How big a surprise was the single ballot?
I felt so confident that the old vote one, discard one primary rules would be in play that I bet breakfast with an End Stool regular visitor.
Enjoy that breakfast Bob.
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