DA finds no problem with primary vote count at nursing home

Feb. 22, 2010

The Milwaukee County District's Office has examined the absentee ballot procedures at the Mount Carmel nursing home and found nothing irregular occurred during Tuesday's primary election.

The district attorney's office was asked to look into it after one of the candidates, Donald Carlson, picked up 73 votes out of 102 ballots cast in Ward 16, which includes Mount Carmel. Carlson is employed at Mount Carmel, 5700 W. Layton Ave., as an activity therapy manager.

Incumbent Cathy Walsh placed second in that ward with 29 votes. That margin of 44 between the first- and second-place vote-getter was easily the widest among the 21 wards in Greenfield. Voters could pick two candidates out of five on the ballot.

Carlson, who received 45 percent of the vote in the rest of the city, received 72 percent of the ballots cast in Ward 16. In fact, Carlson captured a higher percentage of the vote in that ward that he did in the ward in which he lives (65 percent).

The district attorney's office found that all of the balloting at Mount Carmel was handled property by authorized voting deputies, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said Monday. The office considers the matter closed.

It was not immediately clear who asked the district attorney to investigate. The request officially came through the school district because it is overseeing the election, but no one at the district office generated it, School Board Clerk Wendy Bunker said.

Bunker would not say who filed the complaint.

Walsh said the vote totals for Ward 16 seemed odd, but she said she did not ask anyone at the school district or district attorney's office to investigate.

Another incumbent running against Carlson, School Board President Pam Sierzchulski, said she also had no knowledge of the investigation.

"It stood out on paper but I didn't think it was anything inappropriate," she said.

Carlson said he was not present when the balloting took place and referred other questions about the voting procedures to the city clerk's office.

Walsh added that Carlson has an advantage at Mount Carmel because he works there and that she will have to campaign harder at the facility during the general election.

In no other ward was the difference between first and second greater than 22. Incidentally, that came in Ward 1, and it also involved Carlson.

Carlson, who lives in that ward, got 85 votes out of 131 ballots cast. The second-highest was challenger David Richlen with 63 votes.

Carlson was the leading vote-getter in last week's School Board election, getting 663 votes. Walsh, an incumbent, came in second with 632 and was followed by Sierzchulski with 563, Richlen with 461 and challenger John Butschli Jr. with 263.

The top four vote-getters advanced the April 6 general election.

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