How a nationwide paper shortage may impact Wisconsin’s election

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – A paper shortage affecting the United States weighs on the minds of some Wisconsin election officials as state clerks prepare for the upcoming August primary and November general elections when the voters will choose their next US senator and governor.

“Just as there are shortages and supply chain issues with computers and technology, we are also seeing this with paper supplies, so this is something we will continue to work on with local clerks” , Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told reporters at a press conference. availability on Thursday July 14.

Officials at the federal level sounded the alarm on the issue earlier this year, including an alert from the United States Election Assistance Commission and a roundtable hosted by members of the House Administration Committee. Wisconsin Congressman Bryan Steil (R – Janesville) sits on the committee.

“What we don’t want to do is have a problem with the election coming up,” Rep. Steil told CBS 58. “One of the things is that paper ballots are a type of pretty unique paper, it’s not your average everyday type of paper that you can just grab off the shelf, which is good because it ensures election integrity, but it’s a challenge for vendors.”

The issue of paper shortages became a major concern for election officials early in the year when they were notified.

“We were alerted to the paper shortage earlier this year and we sprang into action and ordered over 1,000 reams of paper and a large quantity of absenteeism envelopes. Luckily we have a large quantity on hand,” Rubina Medina, Berlin’s new city clerk, told CBS 58 in an email. “I know some city workers are facing delays and shortages as they try to order paper.”

Medina added that some clerks are taking steps to try to save paper any way they can.

“I was just talking to a few city clerks and we’re all trying to make small changes to keep paper, like encouraging voters to register to vote and request mail-in voting online using the My Vote Wisconsin website” , Medina said.

But Milwaukee County officials are confident in the steps they took in the spring to prepare for the August and November elections.

“We were prepared,” Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson told CBS 58 in an interview. “We were aware of the paper shortage.”

Christenson said the county got a head start working with its supplier, Menomonee Falls-based Burton & Mayer, to order the more than 900,000 countywide ballots needed for the primary and general.

Christenson said he was most concerned about recent court rulings affecting ballot box usage and overall voter accessibility.

“Those are the things that we’re concerned about is educating voters on how they can get out and vote and vote and vote safely,” Christenson said. “Paper won’t be a problem.”

City of Milwaukee election officials told CBS 58 in a phone call that their supplies were in good shape, having been made aware of the shortage earlier this year and acting quickly to address it.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said the city ordered 170,000 ballots for the August primaries and 250,000 ballots for the November general election. By the end of the year, Woodall-Vogg said the city will have gone through some 120,000 mail-in ballot envelopes.

About Marc Womack

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