National Guard brought in to help with Wisconsin ballot counting issue

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Poll workers in two Wisconsin counties — with the help of at least 20 National Guards members — will have to transcribe votes from at least 13,500 misprinted absentee ballots to clean ballots, possibly delaying reporting of results. 

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The state Supreme Court refused to issue a ruling on the ballots at issue, which cannot be fed into electronic tabulating machines, and instead told Outagamie and Calumet counties to use the statutorily prescribed method of ballot duplication for counting ballots of this nature. 

Poll workers will need to work around the clock to meet the deadline for counting non-provisional ballots, which is 4:00 p.m. the day after the election. 

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"The duplication process will take additional time, so the public should be aware that election results will be delayed," Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright said in a statement. "They will be posted as soon as possible."

She added that it takes approximately four minutes to duplicate each ballot and the ballots cannot be hand-counted because of an "all or nothing approach," meaning some ballots cannot be counted by a machine while others are counted by hand.  

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Poll workers also had to wait to start duplicating ballots when the polls opened at 7 a.m. on Election Day. 

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"Voters don't need to do anything at this point. Per the court's decision and following the letter of the law, voters can be assured that all votes will be counted. If a voter cast a ballot with the misprinted timing mark, they can rest assured their votes will be counted," O'Bright said. 

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