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Mistrial declared in Cherrier trial

Rollercoaster recount ends with Sherley on top

St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell (left) began Wednesday's recount for the District 13 election by introducing the six officials that would be conducting the recount and explaining how the recount would work. Campbell is assisted by First Deputy County Clerk Amy Hanson (right). Tom Lindfors / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
New Richmond resident Ryan Sherley was declared the winner of the St. Croix County Board District 13 seat after recount proceedings Wednesday, April 11, at the St. Croix County Government Center. Sherley unseats incumbent Scottie Ard. File photo2 / 2

HUDSON — A recount of votes for a St. Croix County Board seat that ended in a dead heat didn't yield different totals, but a winner was declared — challenger Ryan Sherley.

The New Richmond man was declared the winner over incumbent Scottie Ard in an all-day process Wednesday, April 12, that represented a rollercoaster ride for the candidates.

The initial vote canvas on Monday ended in a 213-213 tie, affirming the Election Day results, and forcing the impasse to be broken by a drawing. Both candidates' names were placed in a bowl. Ard's was plucked and Sherley requested the recount.

Wednesday's recount also ended in a tie, nearly allowing the results of the tiebreaker to stand.

But rather than declare Ard the winner, St. Croix County Board of Canvassers took what was referred to during the process as "the last resort" in determining a winner in recount where the number of ballots and voters didn't match: a draw-down.

The draw-down, a process where canvassers combine all the ballots and randomly remove the number needed to reconcile the difference, ended with Sherley as the final winner. Three ballots were pulled out, delivering Sherley a 212-211 victory.

The Board of Canvassers took a painstaking process to re-tally votes, beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing past 4:30 p.m.

Lingering discrepancies between votes cast and poll-book signatures resulted in phone calls from County Clerk Cindy Campbell to a state elections official. Unable to reconcile the three-vote difference between ballots and voters in the District 13 race, the Board of Canvassers tallied votes from rest of New Richmond wards to see if the difference balanced out.

The difference was accounted for and attributed by board members to be from miscast ballots by voters in New Richmond wards that were split between two St. Croix County supervisory districts.

"People got the wrong ballot, people cast the wrong ballot," Campbell said at the recount. "It's too bad it happened."

Board of Canvassers member Hugh Gwin outlined his discontent with the situation in advance of the draw-down.

"We're denying the candidates the result of the vote — irrespective of how the mistake got made," he said, noting that allowing the incorrectly cast ballots was giving those voters a pass. "And I don't think that's fair."

Campbell, who along with Gwin and Skip Jewett comprise the canvassing board, she's never seen an exact tie for a County Board race in her 15 years on the job.

A second St. Croix County Board recount will be held Friday. The election results for that race were separated by seven votes.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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