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Outagamie County asks for more time to count absentee ballots due to misprint

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:18 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 4:35 PM CDT
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OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A “technical ballot misprint” will likely delay the counting of some absentee ballots in Outagamie County, the clerk announced Monday.

Clerk Lori O’Bright says the misprint is “a scratch no wider than a fingernail on a timing mark at the edge of the ballot.”

O’Bright says the error will not impact contests, candidates or referendums. However, this misprint will cause a machine error and the ballot to be rejected.

The county has chosen to duplicate those ballots that are rejected due to the misprint. They say voters will not have to take additional actions.

According to Outagamie County Deputy Corporation Counsel, Kyle Sargent, the duplicate ballot solution is in line with state elections law. He says, “That process consists of an election inspector, actually election inspectors, transferring the votes from the unreadable ballot to a readable ballot which can then be processed by the tabulation device.”

Kyle Sargent adds the county has reached out to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and asked for more time to count absentee ballots.

O’Bright says testing protocols caught the misprint in time to replace them for early in-person voting starting Oct. 20. However, some of those misprint ballots were sent out to voters who participated in mail-in absentee voting.

In total, 24,600 ballots had the misprint. The county pulled as many as possible, but some were mailed out. They’re still working to determine how many of those ballots went out to voters.

“A small tear in the print blanket resulted in inadequate compression of that area on the ballot, preventing a clean printing image of the timing mark,” said Rod Stoffel, President of local printer JP Graphics.

O’Bright promised that all votes would be counted and “expressed confidence in the integrity of the election.” She adds, “Our message to the voting public is this, your vote will be counted.”

“This is a perfect example of why we have testing procedures in place,” says O’Bright. “We identified the problem, quickly corrected it and will be working closely with the Wisconsin Election Commission through Election Day to ensure all of the impacted ballots will be counted.”

You can watch the full announcement below.

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