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Waukesha County judge dismisses lawsuit seeking ballot redesign

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WAUKESHA (WITI/AP) — A Waukesha County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that asks that ballots for the November election be redesigned. Attorneys representing Republican candidates argued the ballots unfairly benefit Democrats.

Circuit Judge James Kieffer said Wednesday, September 24th the lawsuit brought by the campaign committee for state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both Republicans, was not properly filed.

Kieffer says the law requires that a complaint first be filed with the Government Accountability Board, not the circuit court.

At issue is the November ballot. A lawsuit was brought forward by the campaign committee for two Republicans: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Attorneys argue the ballot's design confuses voters.

What's missing is a line or some shading separating the title of each office and the first candidate listed. Republicans say it's tough to tell where one race stops and the next begins -- arguing this could lead to voter confusion specifically hindering the Republican Party.

The judge did not discuss the merits of the case in his ruling delivered following a brief 30-minute hearing. But representatives from the Government Accountability Board say each county clerk can tweak the recommended templates the GAB provides. For this election, the GAB didn't object to any changes.

"If you take a look at those 72 ballots, which are very similar to ballots that have been used in prior elections, including 2010 and 2012 for November elections - the idea that there is significant potential for voter confusion I think is not supported," GAB President Kevin Kennedy said.

"Obviously disappointed with the judge's ruling. What the campaigns are going to do moving forward is obviously something I will have to talk to them about," Joseph Olson, the attorney for Republican candidates said.

Wisconsin Republicans (WISGOP) issues the following statement on the court's decision:

While we are disappointed with the court’s interpretation of the case’s nuances, the fact remains that the ballot design pushed by the Government Accountability Board staff – without approval from the full Board – is inherently flawed and confusing. We hope that additional clerks will display a willingness to push back against the GAB and implement a ballot that more closely resembles the widely-accepted ballot design Wisconsin voters are familiar with using.

A representative from the Waukesha County Clerk's Office says if voters are still confused about the ballot, most clerks have samples available for voters to take a look at. They are also available online by CLICKING HERE.

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