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Officials react to WI decisions on absentee ballots

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court told election clerks to wait for its go ahead before sending out absentee ballots, but as the general election is less than two months away, that choice is leading to some growing concern across the state.

The WI Supreme Court is responding to a challenge brought on by the Green Party that argues they should appear on the November ballot. Kanye West has filed a lawsuit to get his name on the ballot as well as an Independent.

State law says city clerks must send out requested absentee ballots beginning September 17. Election officials across the state have already printed over a third of the million ballots requested.

"I think one of the challenges is you have to print a whole new series of ballots and then you have to send those ballots out and you have to be able to do that within the legally required deadlines," said Douglas Hoffer, the deputy city attorney for the city of Eau Claire. "Doing all of that is going to be very difficult so we're hoping for some clarity and a decision is reached soon."

While local clerks will not mail out the ballots until they are told they can do so, they are preparing them as if nothing will change. Hoffer said this is because of the sheer volume of mail in ballots they will need to send on the 17. If there is a change needed, it will be a lot of work to catch up.

Dr. Kim Zagorski, a UW-Stout political science professor, said this absentee ballot delay, for many, feels like a politically partisan move.

"While the courts, by design, are supposed to stay away from the fray of politics, I think either way it's going to be spun to whatever parties advantage," she said.

Dr. Zagorski said that the WI Supreme Court could delay the sending out of absentee ballots to Wisconsinites but they can not delay the sending of ballots to overseas military personnel on September 19, as required by federal law.

The Green Party is challenging the WI Supreme Court because they feel the Wisconsin Elections Commission violated state law when they denied the validity of 1,834 signatures in their nomination papers.

"In the case of the Green Party it was because the vice presidential candidate moved half way through, so the election commission had determined that half of the signatures needed to get on the ballot were invalid," said Zagorski.

It is still not clear yet when the Wisconsin Supreme Court will make its decision if the other parties will be allowed on the November ballot

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Felicity Bosk

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