Milwaukee Mayor Denied More Ballots

The mayor has requested more ballots for the Nov. 2 election, but the county executive has refused to provide them, citing concerns about voter fraud.

Mayor Tom Barrett complained that the 679,000 ballots the county agreed to print were less than the number prepared for elections in 2000 and 2002. He asked for almost 260,000 additional ballots, expecting a large turnout next month.

But in a letter, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said he had "serious questions" about the need for that many ballots because the city reported having 382,000 registered voters in September. He said "chaos" could occur at understaffed polling places where voters could grab ballots.

City officials said the request for additional ballots was an effort to prevent shortages because some wards have run out in the past. They say some ballots will be "spoiled" by voters' mistakes, and Wisconsin's same-day voter registration makes turnout unpredictable.

"I'm going to lay this at the footsteps of the county if there aren't enough ballots in the city," Barrett said.

By law, the county pays for and prints ballots.

Barrett and Walker both hold nonpartisan offices, but Walker is a state co-chairman of President Bush's campaign, and Barrett is state co-chairman of Sen. John Kerry's campaign.