FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Outagamie, Calumet counties ask state Supreme Court for guidance on misprinted ballots


APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Election officials in Outagamie and Calumet counties have asked the state Supreme Court to issue an order that allows them to fill in a ballot misprint affecting more than 13,000 ballots just over a week before Election Day.

Last week, WFRV Local 5 reported that officials believe there will likely be a delay in counting some absentee ballots on Election night due to “a technical ballot misprint.”

Outagamie County Clerk Lori O’Bright detailed the misprint, saying it’s “a scratch no wider than a fingernail on a timing mark at the edge of the ballot. It does not impact the contests, candidates, or referenda on the ballots.”

Clerks in Outagamie and Calumet counties say they believe using a pen or marker to fill in the misprinted “timing mark” used by counting machines to read the ballot would be the easiest and quickest way to address the issue.

Outagamie County Deputy Corporation Counsel Kyle Sargent tells WFRV Local 5 that county officials are asking the Supreme Court for guidance on how to count these ballots.

“While we have been and still are working with the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the municipal attorneys, we’re taking slightly different positions at this time,” Sargent says. “Both the counties and municipalities, I believe, as well as the Elections Commission, believe we have to have the Court declare the most protective remedy for this issue.”

Sargent continues, saying the counties believe they should adhere to statutory requirements, which say ballots should be duplicated while the municipalities are hoping for “the most practical and efficient remedy” of filling in the timing mark, as the Elections Commission recommends.

Regardless of whether or not the state Supreme Court takes up the filing, Sargent says the ballots will be counted and voters do not have to take any action.

This isn’t the first problem Outagamie County has encountered with absentee ballots this year.

In late September, three trays of mail were found in a ditch outside of Appleton. The U.S. Postal Service and the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that several absentee ballots were among the mail.

Meagan Wolfe, administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, later said there were no Wisconsin absentee ballots amid the mail discovered in the ditch.

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