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County Clerk: Staffing, not voter fraud, the real concern with mass mail-in ballots

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- In less than a month, Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said her office will begin mailing out absentee ballots to voters who request them. Tollefson said the main concern in her office is having enough staff to count the returned ballots on November 3rd.

"We're gonna need a lot more staff," Tollefson said. "We're already looking for poll workers to help us process that."

One day earlier, during a campaign stop in Oshkosh, President Donald Trump continued to repeat his claim, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud.

"Absentee ballots, great, the others you gotta be very careful," President Trump said.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign pointed to instances of long delays and ballots being thrown out in New York and New Jersey's primary elections but did not provide evidence of voter fraud in connection to mail-in voting.

"There is a difference between the tried and true absentee system, which President Trump has been clear about and 100 percent universal mail-in voting," said Erin Perrine, Director of Press Communications for Trump-Pence 2020. "That's what the president's talking about."

Tollefson said there are plenty of experienced eyes at both the county and municipal levels to catch irregularities within their wards. She said about 15,000 Rock County voters voted absentee in last week's August primary; that accounted for about two-thirds of the county's voters.

Tollefson said if that ratio holds up for the presidential election in November, that would amount to 50,000 absentee ballots, hence the need for more staff and her advice to mail in or drop off ballots early.

Tollefson recommended absentee voters mail in their ballots at least two weeks before the election. She added municipalities are in the process of establishing a list of drop off boxes for absentee ballots. One example is the utility bill drop off box in Janesville that has already doubled as a ballot drop box in past elections.

"If you're going to mail it, mail it early," Tollefson said. "Otherwise, use one of the drop boxes, or check with your municipal clerk where you can drop them off instead of putting them in the mail."

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A. J. Bayatpour

Capitol Bureau Chief

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