March 16, 2009

Plache disqualified -- but only from voting on Feb. 17

UPDATE: Kim Plache responds below. And Janice Johnson-Martin corrects the record

There's a delicious rumor making the rounds today that says Kim Plache will be disqualified from running for mayor because she voted illegally in the Feb. 17 election.

Well, consider it debunked. Urban myth, not gonna happen. That's the word from City Clerk Janice Johnson-Martin, who should know, since it is she who would have to declare the disqualification. Those other ten mayoral candidates will have to beat the former state senator at the ballot box, not in the Clerk's office.

Here's what actually happened, as Johnson-Martin describes it. You remember the Feb. 17 election? That's the one in which five statewide candidates vied for State Superintendent of Schools, and five local candidates competed for Racine's 1st District aldermanic seat. Turnout was in the single-digits, yawn.

Anyway, Kim Plache hied herself down to Festival Hall to vote, bearing a lease for her new Eighth Street apartment to prove residence in the district. The lease was dated Feb. 13; the election inspectors took a look at it, noted that the address is within that district and gave Plache a ballot.

Which she took into the booth, marked with her choices, and inserted into the vote-counting machine.

Ooops! At some point after that, everything hit the fan. The rule is you need to live in the district for 10 days before being qualified as a resident allowed to vote there. By the time the election officials realized that Plache's lease was six days' short, "she had already put her ballot in the machine," said Johnson-Martin.

The city clerk was called down to Festival Hall to decide what to do.

"I told the election inspectors they had to mark down on their inspectors' statement that the lease hadn't been correctly considered."

And this is where procedures get interesting. Johnson-Martin said there is just one thing that can be done in this situation: a ballot has to be removed from the voting machine, and its votes "minused" from the count. "Two election officials had to pull out one ballot... they took off its votes, and noted it on their inspectors' statement.

"And Kim was not given credit for voting."

I know what you're thinking: "What if that was my ballot they pulled out of the voting machine, and not Plache's?" Well, look at the 1st District election totals; they weren't even close. One vote, or 10, or even 30 wouldn't have made any difference.

(Update, 3/17: Johnson-Martin called me today to correct the record. "I gave you incorrect information yesterday. I talked to my inspectors today, and they said, 'We did not pull out a ballot; there were no minuses. You just told us to log it on our inspector's statement.' ")

There's one further way Plache could be disqualified from becoming mayor from this incident, according to word I got from the Government Accountability Board: If she were convicted of a felony for voting in the wrong district. "That would be a District Attorney question," said the official I spoke to. "But let's say they decide to prosecute... it won't happen before the election."

We called Racine County District Attorney Mike Nieskes and read him the gist of our story. Mike said, "Ethical obligations require that I state the matter has not been referred to the District Attorney's office. The responsible determination is for me to look into the situation to determine if any of the election laws have been violated. And that's what I'll do." He said he will call Johnson-Martin and review the matter.

Nieskes added that an individual is only prohibited from holding office if he or she is not a legal voter or has a felony conviction. "I don't know whether this would be (a felony) or not; I'm not going to speculate at this point."

Efforts to reach Plache were unsuccessful... until about 6:45 p.m.:

Kim Plache said she knew nothing about her vote being disqualified until shortly after 5 p.m. today, when Johnson-Martin told her what happened after she left the polling place on Feb. 17.

"Janice Johnson-Martin told me this today after the session at City Hall for mayoral candidates," Plache said. "She told me they discovered that I shouldn't have voted there after I had left the polling place. I'd voted just before the polls closed." Plache had no idea what transpired after that discovery was made, but said her vote disqualification and the voiding of a ballot from the voting machine was the correct response.

"Normally when this this sort of thing happens, they don't even know who the person was. It could have been Jane Doe; they wouldn't normally contact the person," she said.

Plache said she has a perfect voting record. "I never miss an election. All I did was go in good faith to vote. I presented my lease information and said, 'Can I vote?' and they gave me a ballot. If the poll worker had said, 'You can't vote here,' I would have gone to my previous polling place" (in Mount Pleasant). Plache said she had moved into the apartment on Eighth Street in Racine on Feb. 13 or 14.


  1. Hasn't this town had enough scandal and controversey? I'm tired of her already. Let's vote in a mayor with a clean slate so he can consentrate on getting Racine back up on its feet.

  2. What was she thinking? I understand her necessity to try to show she is not moving in to Racine to run for mayor, but she really should have thought that through. She is lucky that someone else caught it or she would have been in big trouble. Not what we need in a mayor.

  3. I don't get it. It looks like she voted illegally. If the DA prosecutes, she would not be able to be mayor. Why is this NOT a big deal?

  4. The operative word is "felony." You'll have to ask the DA if he considers this that serious ... or even a crime on Plache's part.

  5. I think we need to spend a lot more money training our election workers to:
    1. know the regs
    2. be able to count on a calendar.

  6. This would not be an issue if she was not a carpet-bagger.

  7. Pete or Dustin, You are once again showing your bias journalism. Kim Plache voted illegally I do not care how you want to minimize the action.For your further information some body's vote was discounted and it might not of been Kim's. State Senator, State Assemblyperson and wow she made a mistake (yawn). Not yawn you idiot, illegal moron. This is the type of one sided journalism that turns the stomach of the average citizen. Shame on you Kim Plache and if you do not explain yourself and think it is just going to go away, well it is not. Tune into a reputable news reporting system and see if everyone has the same spin on it. Illegal Pete and instead of editorializing you should try investigating. Why don't you name this the Plache Post because at this point you are not credible. Press for the story because there is a story, lazy. In the mean time get a life or a new blog that reports the news objectively.

  8. Hey Anon, Pete and Dustin do a very fair job at reporting the news. They do concentrate alot on downtown because they are close to there and they are only 2 people trying to do the work of 8. I think they do a geat job with what they are working with. They are objective, Pete is only statingthe facts and he is correct, the operative word is "felony". I personally feel that Plache should be strung up by the feet for pulling such a move. She has been around far too long to make such a mistake, so I submit it wasn't a mistake but a deliberate attempt to defraud the constituency (sp). She has shown no credibility and a complete lack of leadership with not only this move but also a fake move into town to a temporary apartment. She has no stake here and doesn't deserve to be my mayor.

  9. With so many qualified candidates running, are we so desperate for a mayor that we’ll consider electing a has-been political hack with NO executive experience who doesn’t even know voting law?

  10. Smith...Becker and now Plache....Is the swearing in of the mayor include you have the right to remain silent?

  11. Has anyone checked the address she is using in the city? Heard some interesting rumors about that too...

  12. I have heard some intersting rumors as well. Someone should check into her apartment complex.....

  13. Here is Dickert's clean and squeaky ethics....LOL

    Mayor's phone call irks friends of challenger
    By JB
    Thursday, November 1, 2007 2:18 PM CDT


    Journal Times

    RACINE - Supporters of Racine mayoral candidate Mark Eickhorst are crying foul over a supposed attempt by Mayor Jim Smith to oust an Eickhorst campaign worker.

    Smith, however, said his opponent's campaign has blown way out of proportion a call he made late last year to the office of state Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha, to find out whether a lobbyist can legally work on a mayoral campaign.

    After a subsequent call by Jensen to the lobbyist's employer, campaign worker John Dickert stepped away from the political race.

    "I think there was a definite attempt to make him leave my campaign, if not lose his job,'' Eickhorst said this week.

    Smith said he had no intention of getting Dickert fired. He said he called Jensen's office to speak with Steve Baas, who is a family friend, to check on the legality and whether it is ethical for a registered state lobbyist to be involved in a local campaign.

    Baas said he told Smith he didn't think there was any problem but would double-check. Baas, who grew up with Smith's sons, said Jensen mentioned Dickert's campaign work in a subsequent conversation with Dickert's boss at the state Credit Union League, Tom Knabel.

    "The extent of it was Tom asking how the credit union's lobbying team was doing,'' Baas said. " The speaker told him it was doing quite well, and that the only thing he had heard that was remotely negative was people wondering why Dickert was involved on Eickhorst's team when Smith had such a broad coalition and was so well supported and Eickhorst didn't seem to have a whole lot of credibility.''

    Asked why he called Jensen's office instead of the state election board, Smith said there was no particular reason.

    He said he regularly calls legislators such as Sen. Kim Plache, D-Racine, and Rep. Robert Turner, D-Racine, often to ask questions. "I guess I wondered what this came under,'' Smith said. "I figure that's the reason legislators are there.''

    Dickert, who has since joined a new lobbying branch of the Foley and Lardner law firm, said he withdrew from Eickhorst's campaign because he didn't want it affecting his clients.

    Alderman Jody Karls, an Eickhorst supporter, called Smith's action a case of "using your political clout to get someone fired just for helping out on someone's campaign.''

    He, Eickhorst and Alderman Gary Becker, another Eickhorst supporter, called the move typical of the Smith campaign.

    Baas characterized the controversy as a "Hail Mary-type attempt by Eickhorst to get some sort of traction on his campaign.''

    "If Scott had it in for John Dickert for being in this race, he (Dickert) would not be in a better position in a law and lobbying firm managed by some of Scott's closest political allies."

    Dickert, who is a former aide to former U.S. Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, was asked if he felt he was influenced away from working for Eickhorst. Dickert said he could not comment.

    He said he was concerned that the work for Eickhorst would affect his clients, so he stepped back.

    "I didn't want my personal life affecting the Credit Union League so I took a step back, and now that I've taken a different job I have stepped out,'' he said.

  14. As usual the conservative are making a mountain out of a mole hill! They have no idea how to reach the voters with other than the same ole dirty politics. So sad eh?

    The problem with Plaches vote was found and corrected. I can,t see why anything else need be done with it. This clearly has nothing to do with her bid to be mayor.

    As the last presidention election has shown we voters are tired of the same thing every election. Instead of smearing someone over and over hoping to somehow hipnotizing the voters try dealing with the issues up front and honestly. What a concept!!!

    The dems have figured it out, how long will it take them?

  15. A guy named Joe Buttweiler writes for the JT? Sorry to be shallow but that's funnier than The Onion -

  16. So much outrage over nothing!!
    THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL except in the small minds of these negative bloggers.

    The poll worker should have known proper procedure and directed Plache to her former polling place. Plache was not trying to vote illegally. She brought her dated lease papers to show her current address.

    Had she failed to vote, the outcry would have been: "Plache neglected her civic duty and did not bother to vote."

  17. Knowing the election law is critical for those seeking elected office as well as those of us who vote. If you want to know how far this stuff can go unchecked look at the Mt Pleasant site related to the Impact group. This isn't a left or right thing it is knowing the law and following it. These are veteran political types on both side thinking they don't have to follow the rules.

  18. This race is the Mayoral race and it just so happens that it falls after the former Mayor Gary Becker was arrested for attempting to molest a child. That had to be a refresher because all the people plus the editors of this Post want to minimize the illegal actions that a person that has held public office not at a low level but a STATE SENATOR!! Now all the intelligent readers of this blog please speak up before they try to give another example of Gary and later suffer from "I did not know that syndrome". Where are the Dennis Navitrils and the likes, the people of Racine that want transparency in not only this election but all of them. Tell about Chuck. Racine Post tell us about Chuck and where did the money go. How soon we forget!! Do not tell me that the Racine community has forgot about Kim Plache's involvement with Chuck Chula. Where are you JOURNALIST? Kim took the pay off from Chuck and the government to chirp like a bird or s---- like a PIG. If the Post does not want to do their job I'll do it for them. Stand up people do not let them get away with the cover up!!!

  19. Ah yes I remember the good ol days when Joe Buttweiler wrote for the JT and Joyce Smith would make her regular trips to the JT office bearing baked goods and convincing them to print whatever garbage she wanted.

    Hey Smiths - just because Becker went down in flames doesnt mean we want you two involved in politics in any way.

    Go back where you came from! Involvment from the Smiths in a campaign can make any race ugly.

  20. anob 9:45 - better known as Joyce Smith. -Knock it off, she asked the poll worker, brought her papers, big deal, get over it.

    Seems to be some people are scared stiff of Plache's grit and ability to serve as mayor. By trying to slash and burn her only fires up her campaign. Time to grow up.

  21. She didn't vote illegally, the poll worker gave her the ballot after she gave the poll worker her information.

  22. I thought Jim & Joyce Smith were good friends of Plache's. What happened? I remember during the Plache/Stepp election Smith got himself in hot water with the Republican party because he was supporting Plache instead of Stepp.

  23. Just so you know Smith is working with/for Turner.

  24. The 10 day residency requirement is very well known to everybody who has ever run for office or worked on a campaign. Too bad poll workers don't seem to know that as well.
    So, it appears she is either too stupid or too unethical to be mayor.

    Either way, this shows she certainly doesn't deserve being mayor.

  25. Smith worked for Turner back when Turner and Dickert ran against each other for the state assembly seat. If they are truly involved in Turner's race this could prove to be one of the ugliest races Racine has had in years.

  26. It is disturbing that a candidate for a high local office would be ignorant of voting statutes. What if someone didn't understand the concept of self employment tax, quite simple for any small business person or entrepreneur, and wanted to run the U.S. Treasury Department? Oh sorry, bad example . . .

  27. Turner and his cronies (Fair, Shields, and Oliver) have already turned this race into an ugly one.

  28. Ugh you mean to tell me both Fair AND Oliver are part of the Turner campaign??? Good God - Racine is in big trouble. C'mon Bob, even you know better than that. You should hold higher expectations of people, being black shouldn't be enough.

  29. She should know what is required to vote. Why didn't she preregister to vote? She waits til the last minute? She says she votes in every election. Well, then be familiar with what is legal. Why would that sort of person make a good mayor? It is pure sillyness. So glad she won't be on the school board.

  30. Stop boohooing. This is not a party bashing. Everything about this candidate screams I will not make a good mayor. Just pointing that out. It is obvious.

  31. Anon 9:45 - if you want to do YOUR job of being an informed citizen and research what YOU think is important to have published, then go for it! stop wasting time on here and DO something!

  32. In 2004, the AVERAGE age of a poll worker in the US was 72. Trust me, not much has changed since 2004.

    Having worked the polls, I am familiar with the plethora of rules that exist regarding elections. As a result, (and taking into account the age of most workers) it does not at all suprise me that the date of the lease escaped the attention of the poll workers.

    I encourage anyone who has the time and passion for this subject to sign up to be a worker in the coming elections. Our older workers are ready to pass this torch, but where is the person willing to take it on?

  33. re: the update

    so, the DA is looking into this. should be interesting. i hope she gets treated just like anyone else would have been in the same situation. it'll be hard to tell if that happens, tho.

  34. I'm appalled at dickerts actions after reading that article. Shameful. Thank you Anon 6:32 for the post. I'll have to think about a different candidate now.

  35. Anon 6:55 - don't make decisions based on the biased and negative comments from bloggers posting back and forth on this site. I am amazed and appalled at the misinformation that passes for fact here. Rumor and opinion does not equal truth. Let's attend the candidate forums and listen to each candidate with an open mind.

  36. Anon 6:55- I am appalled at Joyce Smith's lack of reading comprehension in the article she posted.

  37. Seriously I wish the Smiths would just knock it off. If they want to help their candidate, they should concentrate on their candidate. Trashing the opponents isn't the way to go.