Some Beloit Turner voters concerned they may have received wrong ballot
$26.8M referendum failed by two votes
TOWN OF BELOIT, Wis. — The School District of Beloit Turner’s superintendent said he’s received calls from people who are concerned they received the wrong ballot and couldn’t vote for the district’s $26.8 million referendum in Tuesday’s election.
Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said he heard from a man who said he and his wife voted at different times during the day and received different ballots.
“He wasn’t given the chance to vote in our election, and we were told he’s a positive ‘yes’ vote, but he didn’t get that opportunity,” McCarthy said.
Any additional votes could have changed the result of the referendum, according to McCarthy. The referendum failed by only two votes.
“Obviously, every single vote counts,” McCarthy said. “There’s no question when you look at a vote like that, one or two votes certainly could have made the difference on behalf of our students.”
The superintendent says he’s received calls from people who are concerned they got the wrong ballot at the polls during Tuesday’s election & couldn’t vote on the referendum. The Rock County Clerk says it’s possible, but once a ballot is submitted, it’s final #news3 pic.twitter.com/MlUWwLRtn3
— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) April 5, 2018
Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said it’s possible people may have been given the wrong ballot.
“Sometimes human error does happen,” she said. “It’s unfortunate. They try to be as diligent as they can, but it could happen.”
Tollefson said the poll workers are trained, but some of the polling locations had up to six different ballot styles and three different school districts.
“Some days it’s crazy at those polls, and an error could have happened,” she said.
If someone notices their ballot is wrong before they submit it, Tollefson said they can get the correct ballot.
“Once it’s in the machine, it gets mixed with all the other ballots, and they can’t take it out,” she said. “They cannot go in and hunt down your ballot. Once it’s cast, you’re done.”
Tollefson said it’s hard to confirm if there were any errors or if the errors would have affected the election results.
“That kind of stuff discourages you when you see an election that’s this close,” McCarthy said.
The referendum would have allowed the building of a new elementary school to replace Townview Elementary School. McCarthy said the 60-year-old building has an outdated septic system, well system and no high-speed internet. He said it sits on a busy road, and there are also many shared spaces within the school, including the cafeteria and gymnasium.
The science, technology, engineering and math programs also would have been expanded at the high school if the referendum had passed, McCarthy said.
This is the second failed referendum for the school district in recent years. In 2013, a $28 million referendum to build a new high school failed by a much wider margin.
“I think one of the most encouraging things about this entire process is it shows the community is coming together around the issue. Five years ago, that consideration wasn’t there,” McCarthy said. “When you have this many people that have changed their mind because of the direction they see this going, that’s an encouraging sign. That shouldn’t be anybody getting discouraged by the process. It should say we’re really close to the right solution.”
In the meantime, he said there’s not much the district can do to address the current problems at Townview Elementary after the failed referendum.
“It’s going to take a lot of dollars, and it’s going to take a lot of investment,” McCarthy said. “I think they’re going to see the needs in the future. Something will happen. I believe that.”
The district’s board of canvassers is planning to meet tomorrow morning to certify the election results. After that’s done, anyone who voted on the referendum has until Wednesday at 5pm to request a recount #news3 pic.twitter.com/WjmUxofOX9
— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) April 5, 2018
The district’s board of canvassers was scheduled to meet Friday morning at 11 a.m. to certify the election results. After that is finished, anyone who voted on the referendum can request a recount through the school board clerk.
“We have a feeling that that is going to happen in this case,” McCarthy said. “We have been contacted by a few different people who would like to pursue that.”
Tollefson people have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit their request. If someone does ask for a recount, Tollefson said it would have to start no later than 9 a.m. Thursday.
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