Leaders in Wisconsin call for change to speed up election results

NOW: Leaders in Wisconsin call for change to speed up election results

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -  One of the lasting impressions from election night 2020 was the excruciating wait for early absentee ballots to be counted.

Wisconsin is one of the few states that waits until the polls open to start counting, leading many to wonder why.

“I just think that it is kind of silly,” said Allison Mitchell, who says it’s important for everyone to be able to vote, but wishes the count didn’t take so long.

“It would be much more efficient if they were able to start counting them earlier,” said Mitchell.

“This is probably one of the easiest changes that could and should occur in state law,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

in the past, Mayor Barrett has asked the state legislature to change the law, especially for an election in the middle of a pandemic.

“You add on to that the incredible increase in the number of early ballots, it just makes it a logistic nightmare, a health concern and it really can only lead to problems,” said Mayor Barrett.

“I think that election administrators should be able to count those ballots before Election Day,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

AG Kaul knows the wait first-hand, his race in 2018 wasn’t decided until late in the night, and he thinks that should change.

“By allowing those ballots to be counted earlier, we can get results as soon as the polls close,” said Kaul.

He and Mayor Barrett are not alone.  Almost two dozen state lawmakers sent a letter to leaders in the legislature earlier this year urging them to change the law.

“This is really a bipartisan issue,” said Mayor Barrett, “both Democratic and Republican clerks have asked for this, which is even more frustrating.”

A bill did pass the Assembly that would allow those votes to be counted early, but it didn’t get a vote in the Senate.

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