NORTHWOODS - Nearly half of the entire state of Wisconsin voted this month. November's midterm election brought out more voters than usual. But after all those ballots are cast, there are a few rules about what happens to them. Carrying those rules out takes a lot of teamwork.
After all the ballots are cast on Election Day, they end up at a county clerk's office. Vilas County Clerk Dave Alleman says ballots most must be kept for 22 months but that presidential elections are kept a little longer.
"If for any reason, let's say for a recount. We'd have to open the bags, we'd have to have authority to do that, and then of course they'd have to be resealed and signed off again," said Alleman.
But moving ballots all isn't always easy.
"They can get heavy at times," said Alleman.
"It takes a lot of people to get these from one place to another," said Rhinelander City Clerk Val Foley.
Before the ballots get to county clerks, it's up to the town and city clerks to get them there. Foley says on election night officials from each polling place will bring their ballots in large boxes.
"They get locked on each side with a padlock so that they're secure," said Foley.
City Hall employees then organize the ballots into dozens of bags, before taking them to the county clerk by 4 p.m. the day after the election.
"You have to do it by truck," said Foley. "We get the buildings and grounds gentlemen to help with that."
Once the 22-month period is up, the ballots are destroyed. Alleman and his coworkers destroy them with an industrial shredder.
"Chops them up into tiny, tiny little bits," said Alleman.
He says that process can take a couple days. Until then, the ballots will stay safe and sound at the county clerk's office.