President race too close to call; Tiffany, Edming win; Medford referendum fails
Taylor County voters came out in force for the November 3 general election.
In addition to area polling places seeing steady traffic throughout the day, there were a large number of absentee and in-person absentee ballots cast prior to election day. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2,892 absentee ballots were cast prior to election day. By state law, all valid ballots delivered by election day are counted.
Taylor County had 10,710 votes cast in the Nov. 3 election, this is up significantly from the 9,566 votes cast in the 2016 presidential election in Taylor County and follows a pattern of high voter turnout around the state and nation. Based on the Wisconsin Election Commission statistics on registered voters in the county as of Nov. 1, Taylor County saw a voter turnout in this election of 94.8%.
In the presidential race, Taylor County remained solidly in support of Donald Trump with 7,656 votes for Trump compared to 2,693 votes for Joe Biden. Vote totals remain unofficial until certified by the board of canvassers when that bipartisan body meets next week. Statewide as of Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes were being awarded to Biden based on a lead of about 20,000 votes out of 3.2 million cast. In 2016, Trump had won Wisconsin by a similar margin. Officials with the Trump campaign have vowed to request a recount.
Under Wisconsin law which was changed after the recount in the 2016 presidential election, a losing candidate who wants to ask for a recount must wait until the last day a county board of canvassers meets, which is at least one week after the election. The deadline for requesting a recount is three business days after the Elections Commission receives the last statement from a county board of canvassers.
On a national level, while many poll watching groups have Biden in the lead for electoral votes, it may be several days before all votes are counted in all the state races and a winner named.
Of note there were 331 votes cast for other presidential candidates and five write-in ballots. Of the alternative candidates, the American Solidarity Party ticket of Brian Carroll and Amar Patel had 179 local votes and the Libertarian Party ticket of Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohe had 119 local votes.
Taylor County voters also came out firmly in support of incumbent Rep. Tom Tiffany over challenger Tricia Zucker. This was a rematch of the May 12 special election Tiffany won to fill the vacant 7th Congressional District seat previously held by Sean Duffy.
County votes gave overwhelming support to Tiffany in this week’s election with 7,842 votes to 2,651. District wide Tiffany won with a commanding lead of 251,998 or 61% of the vote to Zunker’s tally of 162,724 or 39% of the vote. In May, Tiffany had won with a 57% to 43% margin.
In the race for 87th Assembly District incumbent James Edming handily won reelection over challenger Richard Pulcher by a 71% to 29% margin. Edming had 21,569 votes district-wide compared to Pulcher’s 8,883. He enjoyed an even larger lead with Taylor County voters securing 8,064 or 77.5% of votes cast compared to 2,340 votes or 22.5% of votes cast for Pulcher.
Medford school referendum
Voters in the Medford Area Public School District narrowly defeated a proposed $39.9 million referendum to make major expansion and renovations to the Medford Area Senior High School building. Just 148 votes separated the 3,531 (51%) who voted against the referendum from the 3,383 (49%) who voted for it.
“I am disappointed that we were not able to gain support from the majority of the district voters. I feel the projects we went to the public with are very much needed and it was somewhat reassuring to see so many people agree. At this point there are no plans for a next move since all of our efforts were put into the referendum,” Sullivan said when reached Wednesday morning.
Board president Dave Fleegel took a positive from the result about the high level of interest among voters.
“What a great turn out for this election,” he said noting the result was not what the board wanted for the future of the district. “The results are so close we will definitely be discussing what’s the next step. I encourage any and all who were against the project to reach out to me 715-560-8213, or [email protected] I really do want to know your thoughts. A big thanks to all who supported the process and the vision,” Fleegel said.
The referendum had strong support in the city of Medford with 1,210 votes in support of it to 875 votes opposed. In the village of Stetsonville voters favored the referendum 159 to 121. However, the referendum failed to gain the support of rural voters losing in every town.
Town voting breakdown was as follows Browning 229 yes, 272 no; Chelsea 205 yes, 235 no; Deer Creek 126 yes, 233 no; Goodrich 97 yes, 173 no; Grover 13 yes, 32 no; Hammel 181 yes, 241 no; Holway 128 yes, 182 no; Little Black 267 yes, 316 no; Maplehurst 3 yes, 5 no; town of Medford 695 yes, 718 no; and Molitor 70 yes, 128 no.
Other referendum votes
In other local referendum town of Aurora voters approved making the town treasurer an appointed rather than an elected position on a vote of 116 yes to 69 no.
Voters in the town of Maplehurst and Roosevelt voiced their support of a $3.15 million school referendum for academic and community improvements in the Owen-Withee School District. The vote for Maplehurst was 85 yes, 63 no and in Roosevelt 3 yes and zero no.
Overall, the Owen-Withee referendum passed 957 to 760.
In other races of local interest, Medford attorney Karl Kelz was elected as a registered-write-in candidate for Price County District Attorney winning with 500 votes over John Slaby (29 votes) and Mark Fuhr (72 votes). Fuhr had served as District Attorney in Price County for more than 17 years before stepping down this spring to take a newly created assistant district attorney position shared between Price and Taylor County.
“I’d like to thank the voters of Price County who took the time to write my name in for District Attorney. I am humbled and honored that they have chosen me as their next District Attorney. I look forward to serving all Price County residents,” Kelz said of the election win.
In addition to the other races, there were a number of uncontested races for Taylor County constitutional officers on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Results from those races are as follows: District Attorney — Kristi Tlusty won reelection with 7,346 votes. There were 11 write-in votes cast.
County clerk — Andria Farrand won reelection to her first full term with 9,076 votes. There were five write-in votes.
County treasurer — Sarah Holtz won reelection with 9,305 votes. There were five write-in votes.
Register of Deeds — Jaymi Kohn won her first term with 9,174 votes. There were 4 write-in votes.