Voting changes for nursing homes, some polling locations allowed to relocate

Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 11:50 AM CDT
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After Gov. Tony Evers issued a public health emergency for the coronavirus, elections officials are making changes to address concerns ahead of the Spring Election.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission held a special meeting on voting on Thursday.

The commission asked municipal clerks to mail absentee ballots directly to people in nursing homes and care facilities instead of sending special voting deputies.

Normally, the teams of special voting deputies conduct voting in common areas and resident rooms to assist with absentee voting.

“We understand the concern of protecting our most vulnerable voters is paramount,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official. “The Commission is taking this action in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and its pending directive to limit public visits to nursing homes and care facilities.”

Municipal clerks were also given flexibility to relocate polling places in nursing homes or other facilities where public health is a concern. The commission’s action allows clerks to find alternative locations, even though state law requires polling locations to be established at least 30 days before an election.

“We share clerks’ mission and sense of urgency in ensuring each of Wisconsin’s voters has access to exercise their right to vote without jeopardizing their health or the health of others,” said Wolfe.

There will be two special webinars for clerks on Monday to address COVID-19 issues and guidance.

The WEC may hold additional special meetings in the weeks prior to the April 7 election to address concerns, including encouraging Wisconsinites to request absentee ballots by mail or vote absentee in-person.


If you are a registered voter, you can apply for an absentee ballot by completing

and mailing it to your municipal clerk’s office. You will also need to provide a copy of an acceptable photo ID with the request.

The WEC states the application must be received by the clerk no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the election in order for an absentee ballot to be sent to you.

If people are not already registered, they will need to register to vote before an absentee ballot can be sent.

Registered voters may also use

to request their absentee ballot by clicking "Vote Absentee."

March 18 is the last day to register to vote online for the Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary

Once voters receive their absentee ballots, they must be received by the clerk no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

In-Person Absentee Ballot

Each city, village and town in Wisconsin is responsible for setting the dates and hours of in-person absentee voting for their municipality.

In Madison in-person absentee voting begins March 17 and ends April 3. Libraries also have in-person absentee voting dates and times.

for dates and times in Madison

In Janesville, in-person absentee voting can be done at city hall beginning March 23 and continue through April 3.

To find the dates and hours for in-person absentee voting where you live,


The Rock County Clerk's Office announced Monday it is limiting in-person access and services will be provided by appointment only.