Wisconsin Elections Commission provides information on voter incentivization, “spoiling ballots”

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 6:26 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Elections Commission provided reminders to voters Friday prior to next week’s election.

Spoiling Ballots

A record amount of absentee ballots are being submitted, but some voters may want to change their method of voting after already receiving their ballot. Some may have already sent theirs in the mail.

It’s what the election commission describes as “spoiling” the ballot. This means whatever ballot a voter may have already received and may be submitted in the mail is canceled out. This allows the voter to submit a new one in a different format, whether that’s in-person absentee or in-person voting. A voter can also “spoil” an in-person ballot in favor of an absentee one.

This is a possibility, but the deadline to do so if the ballot as been mailed is the last day in-person absentee voting is allowed in the voter’s district. In Wausau, early absentee ended Friday at 4:30 pm.

If a voter has received their absentee ballot but has not submitted it, they may vote in-person on election day and receive a ballot at the polls.

“Some of those folks may have already chosen to perhaps cancel that ballot or perhaps they have chosen to go to the in-person absentee and vote instead of that way. Which then, in the system, is going to invalidate that by mail ballot," said Meagan Wolfe, the chief election official in Wisconsin.

The system is built to invalidate all ballots that are duplicates. No person should be able to vote with two separate ballots.

Voter Incentivization

Virtually every polling location gives out an "I voted” sticker, which voters display proudly. Some businesses may be giving special offers because of that sticker, but doing that could be illegal.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, it’s against Wisconsin law to offer a person any item worth over one dollar to vote, or not to vote.

That also includes persuading someone to vote or not vote for a candidate or referendum. The Wisconsin Election Commission wants to warn people who intend to give out food or drinks near election places.

They must not block or impede voting in any way and must be at least 100 feet away from the polling location.

“Voters who are waiting in line should be left alone,” Wolfe explained.. “No one except an official greeter or line manager should be interacting with voters as they are in line. This includes members of the news media. Voters who are leaving the polling place may be approached for interviews by exit pollsters and others, but they must not cause a disruption, and voters are under no obligation to speak with them.”

This does not include provided rides for people to the polls.

Voter Intimidation

Voter intimidation is also prohibited at the polls. The Elections Commission says that they have contingency plans in place in case this is an issue.

But they also added that as of Thursday, they have not heard of any specific plans to intimidate voters at polling locations.

“Any voter groups, any observers, even anybody around the polling places cannot cause disturbance or intimidate voters,” Wolfe emphasized.

If you have any questions about how or where to vote, you can contact your local city clerk for more information.

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