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Darien recount yields no changes

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Gazette Staff
February 20, 2009
— A Thursday recount of ballots cast in Tuesday's primary in the race for village board trustee did not change the results.

"They are unchanged from the Feb. 17 spring primary numbers," said Marc Dennison, village administrator/clerk-treasurer.


Candidate Helen Burton, 310 N. Cavanaugh, filed a petition for recount Wednesday afternoon. Burton, a special education teacher for the Janesville School District, lost the chance to move on to the general election by two votes.


Burton on Tuesday earned 53 votes. That was two less than candidate Cindy Holmes, 30 E. Beloit St., Darien, who took sixth place.


Burton said today she is satisfied with the recount.


"The recount stands as is, and I am OK with that," she wrote in an e-mail.


The village Thursday night recounted the votes in the eight-way primary. The top six vote getters are to move on to fight for three seats on the board in April.


"After they were hand counted as well as matched up with both poll book numbers, then the ballots were fed into the (voting) machine and the printout came out exactly as they were in the Feb. 17 primary," Dennison said.


Here's how the vote broke down Tuesday: incumbent Craig McCue, 94 votes; incumbent Phil Putman, 85 votes; Cheryl Kaufenberg, 80 votes; Debi Olmstead, 72 votes; incumbent Allen Kenyon, 58 votes; Holmes, 55 votes; Burton, 53 votes; and Joel Gauer, 50 votes.


Burton said she wanted a recount in part because the voting machine's memory card failed briefly Tuesday morning. The card was "redownloaded" and voting continued, Walworth County Clerk Kim Bushey said.


The situation is not uncommon, she said. While the memory card was down, voters placed ballots in a locked portion of the machine, she said.


The job for the board of canvass is to re-create the election, said Diane Lowe, lead elections specialist with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.


The board of canvass, made up of five village residents, is expected to go over the ballots and the poll lists to make sure the numbers jibe, Lowe said.


Then board members scan the ballots back through the voting machine. If board members can see that a ballot was filled in incorrectly, board members will correctly mark a fresh ballot with the voter's intent and scan it into the machine, Lowe said.


The election was a hands-on learning experience for Dennison. The Tuesday primary was the first election Dennison, 37, has run in his career as a public administrator.


His first day in Darien was Dec. 1.


The recount is yet another out-of-the-ordinary activity in the politically charged village.


The village board will meet in closed session Wednesday to learn the results of an investigation of the village police chief. The chief was suspended Dec. 1 after village employees found surveillance cameras hidden in the department.


Officials also have been struggling with a looming cash shortage in the sewer fund.



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