Clocks tick for clerks as SCOWIS order halts absentee ballot mailing

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday, Sept. 10 told clerks to halt efforts to get absentee ballots in the mail, putting it hold as the court decides if the Green Party candidate -- Howie Hawkins -- qualifies for the ballot.

The order comes as municipal clerks are already on a tight deadline to get ballots out with the Nov. 3 election just weeks away.

The Milwaukee Election Commission has not sent any ballots to its municipalities just yet. That was scheduled to happen next Wednesday. 

Now, the clock ticks faster for county and city clerks, including in Franklin, who are already working overtime to meet the surging demand for absentee requests.

absentee ballot

It is crunch time inside city halls across Milwaukee County. The deadline to send absentee ballots out to voters is next Thursday, Sept. 17 -- 47 days ahead of the election.

"We've been doing a lot of preparations, ordering envelopes, getting those all signed, initialed, postaged, all the inserts, all of that," said Catherine Roeske, Oak Creek city clerk.

In the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for absentee ballots is as high as it has ever been.

Roeske said Oak Creek received 8,700 absentee requests as of Thursday. That is almost 44% of the city's registered voters.

"I imagine our printer is making good headway on printing those ballots, so if there's a change, there's an entire proofing process that happens," said Roeske.

absentee ballot

The increased demand means more work to be done upfront. In Franklin, volunteers are assembling envelopes without ballots -- hoping to be ready as soon as possible.

However, if the Wisconsin Supreme Court changes the ballot, Franklin Clerk Sandi Weselowski said a new ballot could mean all of the prep work would have to be done again.

"We could potentially have to mail them out and then re-mail a ballot once a decision is put down," Weselowski said.

It would be an expensive do-over at minimum, but one so close to the election could mean around-the-clock work to preserve the right to vote.

"The pressure is also every day not knowing what was going to change today," said Weselowski.

It is unclear when the Wisconsin Supreme Court will decide whether the Green Party candidates will be added to the ballot. 

Both clerks on Thursday told FOX6 News that they just hope the decision comes soon -- even Friday, if possible, to help with logistics.

Rapper Kanye West is also making legal moves, fighting for his spot on the November ballot.

SCOWIS sets up possible delay in absentee mailing

SCOWIS on Thursday ordered that no absentee ballots be mailed until it gives the go-ahead or makes any future ruling about who should be on the ballot.