By Shereen Siewert
Because of Wisconsin’s special 7th Congressional District election this year, clerks are faced with an unusual situation — many absentee voters will receive two ballots for elections in February and in April.
But that doesn’t mean voters will cast two ballots.
Federal law requires that ballots with federal contests such as the race to represent the U.S. 7th Congressional District are made available to absentee voters 47 days before the election. Under state law, the deadline for clerks to approve the paperwork for the spring primary ballot was Jan. 10, less than 47 days from the Feb. 18 election.
That short timeline resulted in the need for two ballots. One one ballot, only the 7th Congressional District race appears. The other ballot contains all contests for the spring primary, including the 7th Congressional District.
Voters who request absentee ballots before Jan. 27 will receive both ballots, while voters who request absentee ballots after that date will receive the second ballot.
Marathon County Clerk Kim Trueblood said the first ballot will only be counted if the voter doesn’t send in the second ballot, ensuring only one vote per voter will be recorded.
All of Marathon County is located within the 7th Congressional District, along with all or part of 19 other counties. Democrats Lawrence Dale and Tricia Zunker, along with Republicans Jason Church and Tom Tiffany, are vying for the seat vacated last year by Sean Duffy.
Voters who receive the first ballot may either send in the ballot or wait for the second ballot to arrive, Trueblood said.
Electors who have requested an absentee ballot as an indefinitely confined voter have their request automatically renewed every year. All other absentee voters need to file a new absentee ballot request every year. Voters can check with the municipal clerk or find voter status at www.myvotewi.gov.
Absentee voters will also receive two ballots in the April election.
Trueblood called the election cycle “very unusual,” which is why officials are working to ensure all voters understand the process.
Marathon County residents with additional questions can contact the Marathon County Clerk’s office at 715-261-1500.