Ballot quirk throws some for a loop
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A quirk in how the ballot was printed apparently caused problems across the state Tuesday.
Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said she expected several thousand "spoiled" ballots in her county because voters mistakenly voted twice for president.
Vote-counting machines reject ballots that contain such errors, and Wisconsin law allows a voter three chances to vote, which apparently is what happened in the vast majority of cases.
Stottler said one voter in the town of Center mis-voted three times and was not allowed another chance.
Eight voters' ballots were disqualified at a poll in Beloit, where voters could not immediately feed their ballots into the machine because it had jammed, Stottler said.
Ballots were collected to be fed later, and by the time the machine was fixed, eight of the voters who had left the poll also left faulty ballots behind. Those votes could not be counted.
Stottler said seven of those ballots included votes for President Barack Obama and one for Mitt Romney.
The ballots included a hairline underneath the Republican, Democratic and Constitution party choices for president, but then four more parties with presidential candidates were listed without a hairline separating them.
People apparently thought the four additional parties—Libertarian, Green, Socialist Equality and Party for Socialism & Liberation—were in a different election, so they mistakenly voted twice for president.
Stottler said she submitted her ballots for state approval with hairlines separating all seven parties, but state officials removed the lines for the four parties because they did not register with the state as parties. Those parties are considered "independents," Stottler said.
The Government Accountability Board at 3 p.m. Tuesday acknowledged on its website that presidential over-voting was a "minor" problem and urged voters to be careful.