Wisconsin’s official election results will likely not be known until Wednesday — and maybe not even then.
Today, Milwaukee County elections officials warned the press that the official count will take some time. And that’s significant: votes in the state’s Democratic stronghold could swing the presidential outcome in Wisconsin.
Despite additional poll workers and equipment, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe warns that tomorrow’s election results will likely take some time.
“Be patient for election night results. If unofficial results aren’t available until the next morning, it does not mean that something went wrong, it means that election officials are doing their jobs,” Wolfe says.
Administrator Wolfe says nearly 2.1 million absentee ballots have been issued in Wisconsin, and roughly 1.9 million people in the state have voted. That’s more than 60 percent of the state’s total vote in the 2016 presidential election.
But since absentee ballots take longer to count than normal vote tallying, and the procedure for counting absentee ballots varies between municipalities, some early results tomorrow will only show votes cast in-person.
Juliette Henry is the Elections Director for the Milwaukee County Elections Commission. She says processing absentee ballots is going to take some time. Of the nineteen municipalities within Milwaukee county, Henry says only eight count absentee ballots at a central location, using machines that can count ballots faster.
“We are anticipating finishing this process between 3am and 6am the morning after the election,” Henry says.
According to George Christenson, the Milwaukee county clerk, roughly 16 percent of absentee ballots returned are from Milwaukee. Despite this unprecedented increase in absentee voting, Christenson says he’s optimistic about the election on Tuesday.
“We want the public and we want the media to know that we’re ready,” Christenson says.
Administrator Wolfe emphasizes that Wisconsin votes will be secure, and warns against malicious attempts to spread misinformation about the election.
“There are adversaries trying to confuse voters about elections, to leverage normal parts of elections that voters may not be familiar with or understand, to create rumors,” Wolfe says.
For any remaining absentee voters — ballots must be received in Wisconsin by tomorrow at 7pm. It’s too late to return your ballot through the mail, so return your ballot in person. Ask your municipal clerk for more details, or head to myvote.wi.gov, where you can also find your polling place tomorrow.
(Photo credit: Chali Pittman)