Wisconsin’s partisan primary last week showed how voting has changed since April’s controversial primary election, with absentee voting becoming increasingly more common.
According to the Wisconsin Elections commission, over 900,000 voters requested absentee ballots for last Tuesday’s partisan primary. More than two thirds of those ballots – over 615,000 – were returned.
While the Madison City Clerk’s office is still putting together the data, deputy clerk Jim Verbick says just .28 percent of absentee ballots were rejected on election day last week. He says most of those ballots were rejected for not including a witness signature on the ballot.
Verbick says that the city provided staff to act as witnesses for absentee ballots as well as increasing the number of voting locations after the difficulties during last April’s election.
Verbick says the Madison Clerk’s office is looking at absentee ballot dropboxes for the upcoming November election, but he says that due to high demand across the country, he’s not expecting them to come.
Looking forward, Verbick says there isn’t much worry about rejection rates for absentee ballots during the upcoming November election.
Wisconsin Elections Commission public information officer Reid Magney says that usually only 1 to 2 percent of absentee ballots are rejected for various reasons.
“But if you have a million absentee ballots, then you’re talking 20 thousand or so,” Magney says.
Magney says ballots can be rejected for not having a witness signature, or because the ballot arrived at the clerk’s office after election day.
He says Wisconsin’s November election will likely see a drastic increase in absentee voting from the last presidential election, increasing from roughly 20 percent in 2016 to 50 percent or more in 2020.
On September first Magney says Wisconsin will be mailing out 2.6 million information packets to registered voters who haven’t already requested an absentee ballot. It will have information on the various ways to vote, both in-person or absentee, as well as instructions on how to request absentee ballots.
“Our biggest message to voters is do not wait. If you wait until the last minute either to request an absentee ballot by mail or to return it you stand a – you stand a good chance of being disappointed,” Magney says.
Absentee ballots for the November election will be sent out in a month — on September 17th. Voters can mail them back, or bring them to their polling place on election day before the polls close at 8pm.