MADISON — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered election officials to halt the mailing of absentee ballots as they determine whether the Green Party should be on the presidential ticket.
More than 330,000 absentee ballots have already been printed in Milwaukee County, however the city of Milwaukee’s election director said Thursday that they haven’t put a single ballot in the mail yet. City and county election officials across the state now fear they’ll have to restart the process with little time to spare.
Just 7 days before ballots are supposed to be mailed to absentee voters, the state Supreme Court told election leaders to immediately stop sending them. It’s an effort to have time to decide whether Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins should be listed as a choice for president. Meanwhile, rapper Kanye West is currently battling in court to do the same.
“They will have some effect but I don’t think an effect on the vote,” said New Berlin voter Edward Kaufenberg. “The vote’s going to be between democrat and republican.”
Election officials will likely take the brunt of this setback. They warn millions of ballots have already been printed across the state and it’s possible that hundreds of thousands may have been sent to voters.
“I think the longer it takes to make a decision the harder it will become,” said Milwaukee Election Commission Director Claire Woodall-Vogg.
Woodall-Vogg said restarting the process could mean missing an important deadline.
“We were anticipating having our ballots be delivered next Wednesday the 16th to go out on the 17th,” she said. “With the delay, our printer has to reprint them, we need time to plan for that and then time to communicate with voters.”
The Wisconsin Elections Commission worries the change could lead to thousands of voters receiving two absentee ballots.
“Once ballots go out, to change the ballot it would be incredibly, incredibly challenging to manage that process,” said WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe.
Wolfe said only one ballot would be counted per voter and there would be guidance to send the latest version.
WEC records show Racine, Sheboygan and Washington counties haven’t printed a single absentee ballot yet. Their election officials said this could ultimately save them money and time if the ballots are changed.