UPDATE: La Crosse County Sheriff candidate concedes race after filing objection to recount

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — After filing an objection Monday morning, Republican candidate for the La Crosse County Sheriff’s race, Fritz Leinfelder, says he will not follow through with a lawsuit as originally intended and has conceded the race to Democrat John Siegel.

Despite conceding, Leinfelder says he has concerns about how college students vote in La Crosse County.

According to Wisconsin law, anyone who has lived in a ward for 28 consecutive days is allowed to vote in that ward.

“You can vote there. And it doesn’t matter that you’re a student. It doesn’t matter that your parents or whatever permanent address you have is somewhere else,” said political expert and professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kenneth Meyers, said.

Leinfelder disagrees.

“I don’t believe that somebody that’s a temporary resident of La Crosse, that’s only connected by the school, should have the right here to vote in our local elections,” said Leinfelder.

Wisconsin law gives college students special exemptions because of how frequently they move.

“The exemptions do exist and we don’t believe the exemptions should be there,” said Leinfelder.

In his objection, Leinfelder and his attorney argue UW-La Crosse students should not be included as eligible voters because many of them have permanent addresses in other states.

“Most of those college students are going to move out of the area. They’re not permanent residents here,” said Leinfelder.

According to the WEC, students are not required to remain in their voting ward permanently. Meyers says Leinfelder’s objection is not valid.

“Election authorities in Wisconsin have made it quite clear, you meet the requirements for residence, you live there 28 days before the election, you can vote there. End of story,” said Meyers.

Meyers says questioning what permanent residency looks is a way to undermine winners and question election integrity. Leinfelder disagrees and says he still believes the election was fair. Leinfelder says while he stands by his objection, he will not move forward with a lawsuit.

“I don’t think it would do justice to the sheriff’s office which is my main concern,” said Leinfelder.

Siegel released the following statement after Leinfelder conceded:

“My campaign for Sheriff has focused on representing and working with the citizens of La Crosse County. I appreciate all if the support I have received and am looking forward to continuing the Sheriff’s Office’s strong tradition of working to enhance our community. I also want to comment Fritz Lienfelder on his campaign and look forward to working with him as we continue making La Crosse County a safer and healthier place to work and live.”

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PREVIOUS STORY:

A candidate for La Crosse County Sheriff has filed an objection to the results of last week’s recount.

READ FULL OBJECTION HERE

Republican Fritz Leinfelder — who lost to Democrat John Siegel by just 175 votes — filed the objection Monday morning, saying in part that more than 1000 voters’ addresses did not meet legal requirements for La Crosse County residency. Leinfelder’s objection argues that the nature of students’ residency on college campuses are “transitory”, and they do not meet the requirements to vote in the November 8 election.

RELATED: La Crosse County Sheriff’s recount: John Siegel remains winner

La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer released the following statement in regard to Leinfelder’s objection:

“The time to object to a voter’s eligibility based on their residency is on Election Day at the polling place, not at a recount. 

State law acknowledges that college students may move frequently, and provides special exceptions for them.  In general:

Students have the right to vote in Wisconsin if they have resided in a ward for at least 28 days, are a U.S. Citizen, at least 18 years on or before Election Day, and are not otherwise disqualified. 

Student status shall not be a consideration in determining residence for the purpose of establishing voter eligibility. 

It is not necessary that there be intention to remain permanently at the voting residency.  It is sufficient that the place is for the time being home of the voter to the exclusion of other places.

With that, the Board of Canvassers have reviewed your objection to the recount (attached) held on November 18, 2022 of the La Crosse County Sheriff’s contest for an election on November 8, 2022, and have denied it.”

Dankmeyer cannot certify the results of the election with an outstanding objection. Leinfelder has until Monday, November 28 to file his objection with La Crosse County Circuit Court.

John Siegel declined to comment.

This is a developing story. News 8 Now will provide more updates as more detail becomes available.