MADISON – More than 93,000 voters in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District have requested absentee ballots for the special election on May 12, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

As of April 30, 93,207 absentee ballot applications have been reported received by Wisconsin municipal clerks. Those clerks report sending 87,673 ballots and receiving 40,554 back. 

It’s important to note that this number does not include absentee ballot requests that have not yet been entered into the state system by clerks, such as emailed requests, mailed requests, or requests by voters that require the clerk to approve the photo ID, meaning the actual number of requests is higher. Because of the rural nature of the 7th Congressional District, there may also be some delays in data entry in the state’s system because many small-town clerks rely on their county clerks for this task.

Daily absentee ballot reports, including county-by-county numbers, are being posted here: https://elections.wi.gov/publications/statistics/absentee.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official, urged anyone who wants to vote absentee for May 12 to act immediately.

“We want everyone who is eligible and who wants to vote to be able to do so safely,” she said in a news release. “At the spring election we saw that voters who requested a ballot within a week of the election did not always receive their ballot in time to return it by the deadline for it to count.  Absentee voting will also greatly reduce crowds at polling places on election day, which will make social distancing much easier.”

Wolfe said it is difficult to know what these absentee ballot reports might indicate about turnout in the May 12 Special Election.

“We normally estimate turnout by looking at recent similar elections, but in this case, there are few good comparisons available,” she said in the release.

Congressional District 7 has about 420,500 registered voters, meaning about 22 percent of registered voters have requested absentee ballots so far. For April 7, about 1.23 million requests were made by the state’s 3.38 million registered voters, or 36 percent, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.