The state Supreme Court told election officials Thursday that absentee ballots should not be mailed for now so the justices can determine whether they should include the Green Party’s presidential ticket.
The 4-3 order left open the possibility of reprinting 2.3 million ballots and delaying the printing of others — moves that election officials said would cause them to miss deadlines set by state law.
The order fell along ideological lines, with the conservatives in the majority and the liberals in dissent.
In response to the order, the state Elections Commission submitted a report late Thursday that suggested as many as 378,000 ballots have already been sent to voters. But the head of the commission said there was no way to know for certain how many ballots have been sent because that duty falls to municipal clerks, not the commission.
Adding candidates to the ballots after some have been sent would be complicated. Voters who have already been sent a ballot would need to get a second one and clerks would have to make sure no one voted twice.
County officials expressed frustration with the court handling the case so near the deadline for sending ballots to voters. Those concerns were noted in a spreadsheet they filled out for the commission that was later provided to the court.
“We feel this is almost impossible at this point,” Monroe County told the commission.
Milwaukee County noted it has 475 different ballots.
“If Milwaukee County is forced to stop printing, and begin designing, testing, and printing a new ballot, we will not be able to meet the state and federal deadlines,” Milwaukee County reported.