APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- A printing error could slow the counting of some absentee ballots in Outagamie County.
County Clerk Lori O'Bright said Monday that about 24,600 ballot were printed with a nick in one of the "timing marks," black boxes along the outside of the ballots. The timing marks allow voting machines to count the ballots. Machines will reject the ballots with nicked timing marks.
"Once discovered, municipalities were immediately notified of the misprint, and asked to sequester those ballots that had not been sent to absentee voters by mail," O'Bright said.
Rod Stoffel, president of JP Graphics, the ballot printing contractor, said the misprint resulted from a tear in a printing blanket.
About 5,000 of the ballots were sent out before the error was discovered. O'Bright said about 2,800 of those had been returned as of Monday. The remaining ballots were set aside and not mailed out.
Replacement ballots have been printed, and voters who vote early in person or on election day will receive properly printed ballots.
Ballots with nicked timing marks that are rejected by the machine will be hand-duplicated by election inspectors on properly printed ballots, said Kyle Sargent, the county's deputy corporation counsel. By law, vote counting or ballot duplication cannot begin until election day.
"That process consists of an election inspector, or actually election inspectors, transferring the votes from the unreadable ballot to a readable ballot, which can then be processed by the tabulating device," Sargent explained.
O'Bright assured voters that their votes will be counted, even if their ballot had a misprint. Voters do not have to take any action.
O'Bright said voters who have already returned misprinted ballots may, but do not have to, request to have their vote spoiled and a new ballot sent to them. That request can be made to the local clerk by Oct. 29, and the ballot must be returned by Nov. 3. Voters who have not returned their ballots can request a new ballot or vote in person.
The nicked timing mark is seventh from the right along the bottom of the ballots.
Outagamie County provides ballots for all municipalities in the county, except for the village of Wrightstown and city of New London. Outagamie County also provides ballots for the portion of Appleton that lies in Calumet County and the village of Harrison.
Absentee ballots can be requested by visiting the MyVote Wisconsin website. The deadline for registering online has passed, but voters can register in their clerk's office until Oct. 30. Voters can also register at the polls on election day.
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