After poorly sealed and torn ballot bags became one source of concern during the recent Supreme Court recount, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus plans to introduce new, more secure bags.
She said the bags are made of tougher plastic and are comparable to bags used by banks, with an adhesive tape closing that would reveal signs of tampering. Ballots from individual polling places are bagged after they’re counted on election night and stored either at municipal halls or with the county clerk until results are final and uncontested.
During the statewide recount this spring, in which Justice David Prosser’s win over Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg was affirmed by a 7,004-vote margin, poorly sealed ballot bags were a common problem. Some saw the gaps as evidence of potential tampering; others said it only showed that poll workers had difficulty cinching overstuffed bags with plastic straps.
Nickolaus said with the new bags, “the poll worker doesn’t have to try and work a plastic seal around the bag.”
Nickolaus showed off the sample bag at last week’s annual convention of county clerks in Rusk County and many responded favorably, she said.
“The majority of us who use plastic bags are looking to use these in the future,” she said. The earliest they would be put to use is in the spring election, she predicted.
Reid Magney, spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, said Tuesday that county clerks are free to buy whatever election supplies they need. However, he said the items must conform to security standards set by the board and its Election Administration Council, which advises local clerks on, among other things, which ballot containers to buy.
Nickolaus said the bags meet state security requirements.