The September 17 deadline for the 1,850 city clerks to send postal ballots to Wisconsin voters who requested a ballot is set under state law.
Approximately 1 million Wisconsin voters have requested ballots, and more than 300,000 of those ballots have already been prepared by local employees to go to voters, according to Meagan Wolfe, the Wisconsin state election officer, who spoke to reporters on a media call when the court order has been issued.
When asked what would happen if the judges ordered that another candidate be added to the ballot papers after they had already been printed, Wolfe said, “It would be incredibly complicated and difficult.” Employees in smaller jurisdictions across the state have likely already sent some ballots out to voters, Wolfe added, although she couldn’t say exactly how many were sent.
The state’s Supreme Court said the Wisconsin Election Commission must notify the court by the end of the day on Thursday of whether postal ballots have been sent. The court will ask for the names and addresses of anyone who has been sent a postal ballot and the date the ballot was sent. The court also ordered the Commission to provide the names of the officials who requested the voting papers to be printed and the date and time of the request.
Attorney Jeffrey Mandell, who represents one of the people suing to prevent Hawkins from voting, said changing the ballot at this point would add uncertainty to an already fragile 2020 election process.
“This could lead to unprecedented chaos,” said Mandell.
In 2016, the Greens candidate Jill Stein received 31,072 votes in Wisconsin. That number is larger than the 22,748 vote lead that gave Trump a victory in the state over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Eric Bradner, Veronica Stracqualursi and Abby Phillip contributed to this report.