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Clerk of court's resignation complicates St. Croix County election process

St. Croix County Clerk of Court Lori Meyer has resigned, but barring an unusual set of circumstances, hers could be the only name for the position on the November ballot, and she could conceivably win.

“Her name is on the ballot. She made ballot status,” said County Clerk Cindy Campbell Monday, explaining there’s no way to remove Meyer’s name from the August partisan primary ballot and there are no other clerk of court candidates on the ballot.

Meyer, who has been clerk of court for 22 years, met the filing requirements as a Republican candidate by the June 2 deadline but has since announced she’s resigning to become court administrator in Anoka County, Minn.

Barring death, the only way Meyer’s name could be removed from the November ballot would be for a Republican write-in candidate to get more votes Aug. 12 than Meyer does, said Campbell.

The procedure for that has been complicated by changes in state law, said Campbell. She said because there is already a name on the ballot, no GOP write-in votes will be counted unless the candidate has filed a campaign registration statement with the county clerk’s office before the August primary.

To earn ballot status in November, that GOP write-in would have to get more votes than Meyer in August – thus knocking the incumbent off the November ballot, said Campbell.

On the other side of the ticket, a Democratic write-in could earn November ballot status by getting at least 517 votes – a number equal to five percent of the St. Croix citizens who voted in the Democratic governor race in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

“What makes this so complicated is that it’s a partisan primary, and electors cannot cross party lines on their ballot,” said Campbell. She said the intent of a primary election is to narrow the field to one candidate per position for each political party.

While the votes for a GOP write-in won’t be counted unless that person has filed a campaign registration statement, Campbell advises a campaign registration statement be filed as soon as the intent to seek an elective office is known and before funds are collected and spent.

Campbell will provide a list of registered write-ins to municipal clerks. Those clerks will provide the names to their election officials at the polls, who can provide the names on Election Day -- if voters ask for them.

“They can’t volunteer the information. They can’t post it,” said Campbell, adding that election workers can’t provide additional information.

“It’s the candidate’s responsibility to get the word out,” she said.

In the end, if no other candidate earns enough votes to get his or her name on the November ballot, any write-in could win by collecting more votes than Meyer.

Under state law, the county’s judges fill a clerk of court vacancy by appointing someone to serve the rest of the unexpired term. They have already appointed Kristi Severson, the office manager, to finish Meyer’s current term.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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