MADISON – Wisconsin voters who are voting absentee by mail must act soon, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
“More than 390,000 Wisconsin voters have requested absentee ballots by mail, but less than 96,000 have been recorded as returned,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in a news release. “Your ballot must arrive by Election Day to be counted and the U.S. Postal Service says it can take up to seven days for a letter to arrive. If you’re planning to mail your ballot back, you should mail it back as soon as possible.”
Voters who still need to request an absentee ballot by mail should also act immediately, Wolfe said. Registered voters can make their requests online at https://myvote.wi.gov.
“Please do not wait for the legal deadline – which is 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 1 – for your clerk to receive your request for an absentee ballot by mail,” Wolfe said. “If you wait until the deadline, you risk not getting your ballot in time to vote it and return it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.”
“The absentee by mail deadlines in law don’t correspond with the amount of time it may take to receive and return your ballot by mail,” Wolfe said. “That is why the Wisconsin Elections Commission urges voters who wish to vote absentee by mail to request them as soon as possible.”
Voters running up against absentee voting by-mail deadlines have the option of voting absentee in-person in their clerk’s office or a satellite voting location.
Statistics showing the numbers of absentee ballots requested and returned are available on the WEC website: https://elections.wi.gov/publications/statistics/absentee. The reports show numbers for individual counties and municipalities.
Here are some key deadlines and facts to remember for the upcoming spring election on April 6 – whether you’re voting by absentee ballot or in-person.
March 30: Practical deadline for voters to return their absentee ballots by mail to their municipal clerk’s office. The U.S. Postal Service recommends allowing one week for your completed absentee ballot to be delivered to your municipal clerk’s office.
After this date, voters should find other options for returning their absentee ballot, which include delivering it to their municipal clerk’s office or a secure drop box if one is provided by their clerk. Visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find out if your clerk offers drop box. Most voters can also deliver their ballot to their polling place by 8 p.m. on election day, but there are some exceptions.
March 30 is also the first day that hospitalized voters can appoint an agent to retrieve and deliver an absentee ballot from their municipal clerk’s office. The deadline for hospitalized voters to request and return their ballot is election day. More information is available here: https://elections.wi.gov/publications/brochures/voter-guides/hospitalized-electors.
April 1: The legal deadline for most voters to request an absentee ballot by mail. Wolfe said it is unrealistic for any voter to wait this late to request an absentee ballot and expect to receive it in time to return it by election day to be counted.
April 1 is also the legal deadline for indefinitely confined voters to request to become permanent absentee voters, but Wolfe urged anyone needing this service not to wait.
April 2: Final day to register to vote at your municipal clerk’s office. Visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find your local clerk’s contact information and hours of operation.
April 4: The last day that municipal clerks may offer in-person absentee voting in their office or a satellite location. Most clerks only offer absentee voting in their office until April 2 and office hours vary by municipality. Visit https://myvote.wi.gov to find your municipal clerk office’s contact information and learn more about absentee voting in-person for the upcoming election.
April 6: Election day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voters who are returning an absentee ballot to their polling place must get it there by 8 p.m. Voters returning their ballot to the clerk’s office or a drop box should do so early in the day, so the clerk has enough time to send ballots to the proper location for counting by the 8 p.m. deadline.
There are 39 municipalities including Milwaukee and Green Bay that count absentee ballots at a central location. Voters in those cities, villages and towns should check with their municipal clerk about where to return their ballots on election day. A list of central count municipalities is available here: https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/guidance/central-count-absentee.