How much wiggle-room is there in today's deadline for the state's ballot certification?
After repeated questions on Thursday -- prompted by Republican hopes that Dan Maes would drop out of the gubernatorial race -- Secretary of State Bernie Buescher finally issued a statement to clarify things.
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Despite various media reports and rumors, my office will continue to perform our ballot certification process, and we will certify the ballot content by 5:00p.m. on Friday, September 3. Because of our late primary and challenges associated with recent federal legislation, timelines are incredibly tight. My office and the clerks are already arranging ballots and preparing to print more than three million ballots by the September 18 deadline.
Any last minute changes to the ballot after tomorrow's deadline will need to be addressed on a county-by-county basis. Our clerks will do everything in their power to ensure an accurate ballot is sent to voters within the timelines being enforced by the Department of Justice and state law. Certainly, the waiver submitted by my office from the MOVE Act was going to act as a safety net for exactly this kind of scenario. Unfortunately, that safety net was denied and our new timeline barely leaves room to meet the federal mandate.
The upshot? While a candidate may still drop out after the ballot is certified by 5 p.m. today, there's no guarantee that his name will be wiped off the ballot -- or that a replacement's name will be added. Buescher's official certification will include the three legislature-referred referenda and six citizen-propelled initiatives that voters will definitely be considering in November, as well as the candidates still in the race today. From there, it goes to the counties.
You may need a scorecard to keep track of what's going on in this race, but after today, don't count on the Secretary of State to supply it.