Dane Co. has highest number of absentee ballots returned in the state

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 10:37 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane County had the highest number of absentee ballots returned in the state, according to new numbers.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission reports, as of Thursday, more than 25,000 ballots have been returned. Waukesha County trails behind reporting the second highest numbers in the state, with more than 11,800.

In Madison alone, the Clerk’s Office says more than 11,000 ballots have returned as of Sept. 23.

Akeem Torres returned his ballot on Thursday, 40 days until the November election. “My vote wouldn’t have changed from three years ago,” he said.

Torres personally delivered his completed ballot to the City-County Building, explaining, “I don’t trust the mail. I don’t trust the post office. I think they’re under siege.”

Madison Deputy Clerk Jim Verbick said the office is getting trays of ballots and thousands of requests for ballots each day.

Once the ballots arrive, they have a temporary stay in a makeshift sorting room, which used to be the Common Council’s chamber.

By law, poll workers cannot count the ballots as they come, but they can prep them. The ballots are organized by alphabetical order and sorted into wards, to be distributed to voters' respective polling places on election day.

Verbick anticipates this task will keep poll workers busy, as more than 87,000 empty ballots have been mailed so far. He said this unprecedented volume partially explains why so many ballots have returned.

He also believes a “general concern” over the postal service can explain the number of returned ballots. “I feel like they’re sending their ballots in a little earlier than they normally would just because they’re concerned it might take a little while longer to get to us,” Verbick said.

According to the Janesville clerk, nearly 2,400 ballots were returned as of Thursday. In Beloit, a city official reports having a little over 300 ballots returned as of Wednesday.

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