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City clerk: What to know about voting in the 7th Congressional special election

Absentee ballots at Wausau City Hall (WSAW Photo)
Absentee ballots at Wausau City Hall (WSAW Photo)(WSAW)
Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 6:47 PM CDT
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The 7th Congressional special election in Wisconsin is fast approaching on May 12, and city clerks hope absentee voters will learn from errors made on rejected ballots from the chaotic April 7 election that in Marathon County resulted in almost 600 uncountable ballots.

"No matter what, the voter needs to have a witness," Wausau city clerk Leslie Kremer said. "So when the voter is casting their ballot, you don’t have a witness watch what you are casting on your ballot—you need to have someone watching that you are the one that’s filling that out."

Voters need to sign and date ballots, and witnesses need to sign and fill out their address--the absence of any one of those things contributing to the insufficient certifications for 68% of rejected ballots in Wausau for the April election. A total of 90 ballots were rejected in Weston, which together with Wausau forms a little less than half of all Marathon County rejected ballots.

It's been slowly getting busier, but Kremer says the rush of ballots for May's election won't be as bad as April because many requested their ballots for both elections at once--one of the options on the My Vote website. In the past few days, those requests have still increased however, Kremer noted.

Other things voters should know is that unsolicited third-party mailings for absentee ballot requests, while addressed to the city clerk, do not actually come from the city--which only sends mail absentee ballot request forms to those who ask for one. Nonetheless, the third-party mailings are valid, Kremer noted--she'd already received a stack of them just on Tuesday. However, voters still need a photo ID to utilize them.

The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot for most voters is May 7 for the May 12 election.

"If voters are at all concerned about their absentee ballot not reaching us in time through the U.S. Postal Service," Kremer noted, "We do have a drop box outside of City Hall and another one across from the Post Office where they can drop off their ballot."

Despite calls from Democrat congressional candidate Tricia Zunker for a mail-only election, Governor Tony Evers has so far indicated that the election will go on for in-person voting as planned due to the rural makeup of the district and the amount of time already provided to request absentee ballots.

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