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Technical Glitch May Cause Big Delays In Counting Absentee Ballots In Outagamie County, Wisconsin

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The stage may already be set for big delays in counting absentee ballots in one Wisconsin county.

Outagamie County, just south of Green Bay, is predominantly Republican. Its county seat and only sizable city is Appleton, and its population is 187,000.

As CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker reported Tuesday evening, election officials have been forced to duplicate thousands of absentee ballots by hand because of a printing error.

As many as 13,400 voters in Outagamie County made their choice for president and filled out their ballots. But every one of those ballots had a technical glitch and the machine can't read it.

The problem is at the bottom of the ballot. A little black mark about the size of a finger scratch is missing. That nick prevents the ballot from being read by the machine.

Wisconsin statute says if there is an issue with a ballot, it has to be duplicated by hand. It's a labor-intensive process that means every ballot has to opened and then read.

"One person reads the ballot and the second one is recording that elector's vote, and then they are comparing for accuracy," said Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright. "Each one is comparing to make sure that ballot is accurately duplicated for tabulation."

RELATED: Concerns Mount In Wisconsin Over Early Voting, Ballots, Voter Suppression As Election Day Looms

Once the ballot is duplicated, it can be sent through the machine to be counted. Election officials figure it will take four minutes to duplicate each ballot, and they're lining up more than 300 workers, including the National Guard, working 10- to 12-hour shifts.

Ballots are supposed to be counted by 4 p.m. Wednesday, but election officials say they will take as long as they need to count every ballot. So at least in Outagamie County, there could be a delay.

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