Local clerks concerned by Supreme Court’s decision delaying ballots

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:36 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Area clerks were expressing concern Thursday that absentee ballots scheduled to go out by September 17 might be delayed.

Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins is challenging a decision to keep him off the ballot, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered that no ballots go out in the mail until it makes a ruling (see related story).

It’s unclear when the Wisconsin Supreme Court will actually take up the challenge by the Green Party candidate or a separate case in Brown County Circuit Court involving rapper Kanye West, who was also denied a place on the ballot.

For now, this has left many area clerks in limbo.

In Winnebago County, ballots for this November’s election have already been printed and distributed to municipal clerks to be mailed out to voters by next Thursday.

If those ballots would get out and then all of a sudden a change would be made it would, it would be a nightmare that you wouldn’t want to have," Winnebago County Deputy Clerk Julie Barthels said.

If the ballots have to be reprinted, it’s not cheap.

The cost in Winnebago County, is expected to be about $35,000. In Fond du Lac County, the clerk says the cost would be $20,000.

“The biggest concern to me is this cost that was unanticipated, especially with tight budgets already, that this falls -- I feel terrible about it as far as that -- it falls on the taxpayers,” Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said.

If the court ruling is delayed until next week, there’s no guarantee the September 17 deadline can be met because of the time it takes to reprint.

“If we would know by Monday, it would be very, very tight, but I would think ballots... I don’t think they could go out next week,” Barthels said.

Some ballots were already sent to voters, but the Wisconsin Elections Commission says it doesn’t know the exact number and it’s working to find that out.

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