Wisconsin April 7 primary election will go forward, vote absentee

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By Gillian Pomplun

 

The election planned for Tuesday, April 7 will go forward as planned, according to Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator. The Wisconsin Elections Commission held a meeting on Wednesday, March 18 to discuss whether or not to recommend to the Governor and legislature that the election should proceed as planned in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the March 18 meeting of the six-member Wisconsin Elections Commission, the commission unanimously moved to adopt a six-part directive. Specific to their directive, they have requested the following:

1. Assistance securing a supply of sanitation resources for local election officials

2. Assistance with recruiting poll workers

3. Access to public health officials to create accurate guidance for local election officials.

The Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator wrote a letter to Governor Evers on Friday, March 20:

“On April 7 there will be nearly 2,000 polling places requiring more than 20,000 poll workers and the potential of up to 2 million voters or their absentee ballots. Elections are large public gatherings. In most other areas of our now daily lives, public gatherings have been prohibited. As required by law, in-person absentee voting and in-person registration extend these election gatherings to sites around the state for the next 18 days. Many of our trusted election custodians are over the age of 60. Others have health concerns that may place them at risk. Further, almost every municipality around the state has conveyed they do not have access to the sanitation supplies directed by public health officials,” Wolfe wrote.

“As of today, local election officials do not have access to the people or supplies needed. This leaves voters, clerks, and poll workers to make difficult choices. Voters should not have to choose between voting or staying healthy. Poll workers should not have to choose between serving their community or staying healthy. Our local election officials should not have to choose betweenfacilitating democracy or staying healthy,” Wolfe continued.

Registration extended

On Friday, March 27, a federal judge granted a request by Democrats to extend online voter registration in Wisconsin until March 30 in light of the public health crisis brought on by the new coronavirus.

Voters will still be able to go to the polls on April 7, but are being strongly encouraged to go to www.myvote.com to either register to vote or to request an absentee ballot that will be mailed to your home.

Election deadlines

•Monday, March 30, 11:59 p.m.: deadline to register to vote online. - Voters who are able to match their name, date of birth, Wisconsin Driver License or State ID number, and address with the Wisconsin DMV can register to vote online.

•Thursday, April 2, 5 p.m.: absentee voting - all voters in Wisconsin can request an absentee ballot be mailed to them for any reason. Voters must be registered before they can request an absentee ballot. Voters may request their absentee ballot in writing. Voters can also request an absentee ballot on MyVote.wi.gov. They must provide a photo ID with their absentee ballot request.

•Thursday, April 2, 5 p.m.: deadline to request an absentee ballot - regular and permanent overseas voters. 

•Friday, April 3, 2020, 5 p.m.: deadline to register in-person in the municipal clerk’s office.

•Friday, April 3, 5 p.m.: deadline to request an absentee ballot - indefinitely confined.

•Possibly though April 5: deadline for in-person absentee - voters can possibly request and vote an absentee ballot in-person in their municipal clerk’s office through April 5, 2020. Office hours vary by municipality. Some municipal offices may not offer additional in-person absentee hours. Please contact the municipal clerk for absentee voting hours. 

•Tuesday, April 7, 5 p.m.: deadline for hospitalized voters - voters who are in a hospital may request a ballot be brought to them by an appointed agent if they are hospitalized in the seven days preceding the election. Hospitalized electors may request an absentee ballot between March 31, and April 7, at 5 p.m.

•Tuesday, April 7, 5 p.m.: deadline to request an absentee ballot – military.

•Tuesday, April 7, 8 p.m.: deadline to return absentee ballot. If mailing an absentee ballot, the clerk must receive the mailed ballot by 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7. Otherwise, the absentee ballot can be handed in-person to the clerk or a poll worker at the polling place no later than Tuesday, April 7, 8 p.m.

On the ballot

Voters can expect to vote in the following elections on Tuesday, April 7:

•Presidential Preference Primary – voters will choose to vote either in the Republican or Democratic primary. This will determine which of two ballots to complete.

•Wisconsin Supreme Court – voters will choose between Daniel Kelly and Jill Karofsky.

•Marsy’s Law Referendum – this will be a yes/no question.

•County Board Supervisor – voters will be able to vote for the candidate of their choice in their district in their county.

•School Board Members – voters will be able to vote for the candidates of their choice in the school district in which they reside.

•City Aldermen and Mayors - voters who live and vote in a city will be able to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice to represent them on their city council or as mayor of their city.

•Village Trustees – voters who live and vote in a village will be able to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice to represent them on their village board.

•Town Supervisors - voters who live and vote in a township will be able to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice to represent them on their town board.

Staffing elections

Because of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidance to maintain social distance, voters are strongly encouraged to vote with an absentee ballot. There is concern that 50 percent of poll workers in Wisconsin are over the age of 60 – a more vulnerable population. In addition, the state has experienced severe challenges in obtaining hand sanitizer or wipes for polling places, so there is no guarantee that these products will be available at polling places on April 7.

Many municipal clerks are also seeking alternative poll workers to staff polling places so more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or the immune-compromised, can stay home. To find out if the county is seeking poll worker volunteers, contact the city, county, village or town clerk.

 

Gillian Pomplun is a reporter for the Crawford County Independent, a sister publication of the Courier Press.

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