According to a report by Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, some Republicans voting in today’s partisan primaries have taken to writing in the name of Democratic Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. on their ballots, in an attempt to prop up Clarke in the face of a very strong challenge by his Democratic challenger Chris Moews.
“There are cases where it’s happened,” Milwaukee Election Commission director Neil Albrecht said.
Under Wisconsin law, a voter can choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primaries, but can’t do both on the same ballot.
Clarke, a conservative Democrat, is running in that party’s sheriff primary against challenger and Milwaukee Police Lt. Chris Moews, who holds views more typically associated with Democrats and liberals. Clarke is running for sheriff for the fourth time.
There is no GOP candidate for sheriff in Milwaukee County.
Albrecht said after consulting with state election officials, he is having election workers count the other GOP races voted on by those Republicans but not the write-in portions casting a vote for Clarke as a Republican for sheriff.
Reid Magney, a spokesman for the state Government Accountability Board, said that was the correct approach because under state law write-in votes can’t be used to get around the prohibition against voting in both partisan primaries at once. Magney said that a similar situation involving GOP voters and Democratic sheriff candidates had also come up Tuesday in Richland and Dunn counties and is being handled in the same manner.
The fact that Republicans have had to resort to writing in David Clarke’s name and propping him up with a desperate mailer from Tommy Thompson asking Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary speaks volumes about how vulnerable Clarke must think he is.