La Crosse County Sheriff candidate challenges voting eligibility of over 1,000 students

Republican candidate Fritz Leinfelder lost the election for sheriff by 176 votes after a recount.
[FILE] In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, poll workers sort out early and absentee...
[FILE] In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, poll workers sort out early and absentee ballots at the Kenosha Municipal building on Election Day, in Kenosha, Wis.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 3:57 PM CST
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - A candidate for sheriff in western Wisconsin has filed an objection to the result of a recount of votes cast in the November election Monday.

The objection was filed with La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer by Fritz Leinfelder, who was the Republican candidate for sheriff in La Crosse County in this month’s election.

According to the document, Leinfelder said over 1,000 voters shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the election because they aren’t permanent residents of La Crosse County. All told, Leinfelder submitted four lists totaling 1,215 voters of people who appeared on supplemental poll lists that provided voting addresses in La Crosse County. All but 26 of the people were on UW-La Crosse’s Fall 2022 registration list, according to Leinfelder, with the remaining 26 registering for the election with UW-La Crosse dorm addresses. The other three lists included 122 voters who have home addresses outside of the state, 982 voters who have home addresses in Wisconsin outside of La Crosse County, and 85 voters who have local addresses that do not match the voter’s voting address at voter registration, according to the document sent to the county clerk.

Leinfelder said in the document that he along with campaign volunteers investigated publicly-available information, including the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s CCAP website, to verify addresses. Leinfelder’s team also filed public information requests from UW-La Crosse and poll lists from the La Crosse County Clerk. The objection to the recount result, according to the affidavit, is because Leinfelder said the voters’ addresses don’t meet the legal requirements to vote and argued that the nature of college housing isn’t to establish permanent residency.

Dankmeyer resonded to Leinfelder and his attorney, stating that objecting to a voter’s eligibility should be done on Election Day at the polling place and not at a recount. Dankmeyer also cited Wisconsin’s laws regarding students being able to participate in elections, which states that students can vote in Wisconsin as long as they’ve resided in a ward for 28 days, are a U.S. citizen at least 18 years of age on or before Election Day and are not otherwise disqualified.

The La Crosse County Board of Canvassers denied the objection by Leinfelder after a review, according to a statement by Dankmeyer:

Democrat John Siegel was declared the winner after a recount was done on 13 of 26 wards in the City of La Crosse. Leinfelder requested the recount after Siegel won by 175 votes. The recount, which is permitted in Wisconsin if the results are within 1% of the winning candidate’s total, added two votes for Siegel and one for Leinfelder, increasing Siegel’s margin of victory by one vote.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Leinfelder has five business days, or until Nov. 28, to appeal the recount determination in La Crosse County Circuit Court under state statute.

Siegel and Leinfelder ran in the election to replace outgoing La Crosse County Sheriff Jeffrey Wolf, who is planning to retire in January.