Correcting absentee ballots in Wisconsin

Clerks in Dane County explain how they work with voters to fix any issues that come up when sending back an absentee ballot
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 6:44 PM CDT
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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - Absentee voters need to check twice before sending in their ballots to make sure they will be counted.

The Wisconsin Election Commission said there are three major things to look over on a ballot envelope certificate: the voter signature, the witness signature and the current witness address

If there is anything wrong with that information, or if the ballot was damaged on its way back to the clerk’s office, the voter will likely be notified by phone or e-mail.

“We make every effort that we can to contact them,” Monona City Clerk, Joan Andrusz said. “[We] fix what we can in the office, but if we can’t, we will have to mail the ballot back.”

The same thing goes for clerks in larger cities.

“We can send that right back to the voter with an explanation and then the voter has time to return it to us so it can be processed and counted at the polls,” Madison City Clerk, Maribeth Witzel-Behl said.

Absentee voters can also track the status of their ballot online at Click on ‘Track My Ballot’ to see the progress. If you see an orange box in one of the process squares, that means something went wrong.

“Once you have sent your ballot back to the clerk and they have scanned it in if there’s no problem, it’s going to say ‘ballot received,’” Wisconsin Election Commission Public Information Officer Reid Magney said. “If there’s a problem it’s either going to say, ‘absentee ballot sent back for resolution’ or 'absentee ballot being held for resolution.”

From there, you can contact your clerk’s office to find out what you should do next If they haven’t already contacted you. But whichever method you choose - officials say it’s best to do it early.

“If you return an absentee and the envelope is insufficient, if there’s a key component missing, you can’t vote at the polls on election day, because you’ve returned an absentee ballot, even though the ballot is incomplete, you’re not allowed to vote at the polls,” Witzel-Behl said.

The Madison Clerk’s office has also received a lot of calls asking if voter signatures on their absentee must match the one on their ID card on file. The answer is no; Wisconsin does not have signature matching laws, so it doesn’t matter how a voter signs their name, as long as it’s on their return envelope.

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