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Wisconsin Republican senator seeks recount in election loss
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Republican Wisconsin lawmaker who lost a special recall election last week called on Friday for a recount of the vote, which would give Democrats control of the state Senate.
Senator Van Wanggaard was the only one of five Republican elected officials to lose last week in recall elections prompted by Governor Scott Walker's successful moves to limit the power of many state and local government union workers.
Wanggaard said his request for a recount in his race against former state Senator John Lehman was a response to the overwhelming number of voters he has heard from who believed their "votes were disenfranchised on election night."
A canvass this week found that Wanggaard lost the June 5 election to Lehman by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent. If the result stands, Democrats would have a 17-16 majority in Wisconsin's Senate.
"This is not about maintaining power or denying Democrats power," Wanggaard said. "There are no 'secret plans' for a special legislative session during this recount and no votes scheduled."
Wanggaard was one of three Republican state senators who faced special elections, along with Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.
Democrats and labor groups angered by Walker's successful drive last year to limit unions went after Republican senators who were eligible to face recall under state law - in addition to Walker - with petition drives to force the special elections.
Lehman said Friday he expected to prevail and was anxious to get to work.
The majority in the Senate could be short-lived since half of its members are up for re-election in November. Republicans had swept the state legislature and the governor's office in 2010.
Wanggaard had a right to seek the recount because of the closeness of the vote. The validity of the election also came into question this week when authorities fielded complaints about issues at two polling places in the city of Racine.
According to the Racine County district attorney, suspicious voter registration documents were allegedly found in a dumpster at one Racine polling place. The district attorney also has been informed of alleged voting irregularities at another polling place. The Racine County Sheriff is investigating both reports.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Bill Trott)
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