Wauwatosa primary results stand after 58 unopened absentee ballots were counted

Posted at 4:45 PM, Feb 24, 2022

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — Wauwatosa's primary results stand after the city included 58 absentee ballots that were initially missed.

City Clerk Steven Braatz apologized for the error during a news conference on Thursday and explained how his office learned about the absentee ballots on February 22, a week after the primary.

Braatz said the ballots are kept in a secure storage vault, but the 58 were stored with ballots that were sent back undeliverable and ones that were sent late.

"Staff inadvertently did not process ballots from one of the bins that we use to store, which resulted in these ballots not being delivered on election night to be counted," Braatz said.

Braatz said they contacted the Wisconsin Elections Commission and city attorney's office right away.

The Board of Canvassers met Thursday to inspect and count the lawfully cast and unopened ballots. 26 ballots could have changed the results for District 3 alderperson. Candidates and candidate representatives watched the process unfold.

"Facts always matter. They're very important and integrity of election needs to be maintained with quality assurance and maybe sometimes quality insurance improvements," said Barb Schoenherr, who attended the count as a representative of District 3's incumbent Tim Hanson.

"Let's make sure that we can move forward and put procedures in place where this kind of thing does not happen, and we don't have any questions about the accuracy of our elections," said Joseph Makhlouf, a candidate for District 3.

Both Schoenherr and Makhlouf accepted the situation was a result of human error.

"In the future, we are simplifying the way we process or store absentee ballots by adding daily checkpoints, to ensure the number of ballots received aligns with what is delivered," Braatz said.

After the new totals were tallied Makhlouf and Patricia Stone will still move on to the April election.

The deadline to request a recount is March 1. Hanson has said he will not request a recount, according to Schoenherr.

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