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Flap slows recount

September 22, 2010 | 08:56 AM
Elkhorn — A recount of ballots in the 32nd Assembly District Republican primary was put on hold Tuesday morning when the winning candidate's father complained that his son was not able to officially respond to notification of the recount.

However, Tuesday at 3 p.m., the notification was filed and the recount is scheduled to continue Wednesday morning.

Tyler August, one of six candidates who appeared on the Republican ballot for the 32nd District, filed a request for a recount at 1:17 p.m. Monday. That was approved by the state Government Accountability Board, which now oversees state elections.

Adam Gibbs, 24, Lyons, apparently won the Sept. 14 primary by a mere four votes over August, 1,761-1,757. The Walworth County and Kenosha County boards of canvassers upheld the same totals, reinforcing Gibbs' knife's edge victory.

Tuesday afternoon, before Gibbs filed the notification, charges were flying between the Gibbs and August campaigns. August accused Gibbs of intentionally delaying the recount, while Gibbs' father, Michael Gibbs, a former Walworth County judge, told the Regional News Tuesday afternoon that he believes August is rushing the process.

Late Tuesday afternoon after he filed the notification, Adam Gibbs said the issue was being "blown out of proportion."

In a telephone interview, August, 27, Walworth, said all of the candidates were notified of the recount and acknowledged the notification except for Gibbs. August said the Walworth County Sheriff's Department made five attempts to reach Gibbs.

In fact, sheriff's deputies made six attempts to reach the candidate, Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said.

Graves said deputies went to the Gibbs' residence at 7:49 p.m. and 10:16 p.m. Monday and then at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. No one answered the door. A call was made to Adam Gibbs' cell phone at 7:35 a.m. Tuesday, but there was no response. A deputy went back to the Gibbs' residence again at 8:03 and 11:39 a.m. Tuesday, but again, no one answered the door, Graves said. Adam lives at his parents' home.

Graves said Gibbs later called the County Clerk's office and said he was in Madison. Gibbs' father confirmed that.

If Gibbs went to Madison on Monday, he arrived there later in the afternoon. That day, the candidate stopped at the Regional News office in Lake Geneva at about 3 p.m. to pay for an ad, and then was stopped and ticketed in the village of Walworth for speeding, being clocked at 38 mph in a 25 mph zone on Kenosha Street at about 3:41 p.m. He was also warned for not having proof of auto insurance.

Michael Gibbs told the Regional News that his son went to Madison to continue his campaign for the 32nd District.

Michael Gibbs said his son received the notification on his cell phone. He said his son called him Monday evening asking what he needed to do and seeking assistance. Gibbs said his son's cell phone can't print out the notification response form, which must be signed and then faxed to the GAB office. He said his son was trying to find a computer where he can download the right documents, sign them and deliver them to the state agency.

Gibbs said his son was in Madison meeting with GOP officials and fundraising experts to arrange campaign financing, and to have more of his large campaign signs printed. "He's going to need Republican Party support in the coming election," Gibbs said of his son.

Michael Gibbs said he appeared at the Walworth County Clerk's office Tuesday morning on his son's behalf and made objections over how the recall is being carried out.

Gibbs said he objected to make up of the canvassing board, and the process being used.

He said Kim Bushey, Walworth County Clerk, is a Republican office holder, and Tyler August, who once sat on the Board of Canvassers is the former chairman of the Walworth County GOP and is now the chairman of the First Congressional District GOP.

He also objected to George Kirkpatrick, a Democrat. Gibbs said Kirkpatrick has been overheard saying he is a long-time friend of the August family. Another board member is the mother of August's campaign treasurer.

Gibbs said that while he was at the board of canvassers meeting, he also heard Kirkpatrick talking to Bushey about recreating ballots to determine voter intent. Gibbs said he doesn't know what that means, "but it raised a red flag."

Finally, Gibbs said he objected to Bushey's plans to do the recount by hand. He said it would leave too much room for the canvassers to make mistakes "or commit mischief."

Gibbs said he made his objections and then sat down expecting the recount to go forward, but Assistant Corporation Counsel Michael Cotter advised Bushey that the recount could not go forward, and it was postponed, Gibbs said.

While August did not have to file his recount petition as early as he did, there is one factor that's complicating the process.

Last year, the U.S. Congress approved the Military and Overseas and Empowerment Act that requires servicemen and women receive their ballots at least 45 days before an election. Because of the current timing of Wisconsin primaries, Wisconsin could not comply with the law, said Reid Magney, GAB spokesman.

Through a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, Wisconsin is now required to get its Nov. 2 ballots out to overseas voters by Oct. 1. That means primary results should be completed by Monday, Sept. 27.

Magney said the GAB is attempting to expedite the 32nd District recount.

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