Madison clerks count some absentee ballots without postmarks

Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 10:58 PM CDT
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Clerks in Madison spent several hours Monday opening and counting absentee ballots. The major question Monday night was whether absentee ballots without postmarks should be counted.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said with no clear guidance from the state, there would be inconsistencies across the county.

"You're going to see one community interpret it one way and another interpret it another way," McDonell said.

The City of Madison decided to count absentee ballots without postmarks that arrived by April 10. If ballots arrived after April 10, canvassers looked at each ballot individually.

"If the voters were able to certify that they did put it in the mail [April 7], that's one thing that the canvassers are considering," said Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl.

Witzel-Behl said the city made that decision based on advice from the city attorney and Madison's postmaster.

Voters in Dane County cast 134,891 absentee ballots. About 47,276 people turned out to vote in-person on Election Day.

In total, Dane County voters cast 182,167 ballots. In the 2016 presidential primary, Dane County voters cast 235,539 ballots.

However, Witzel-Behl said voters were still disenfranchised.

"We've heard from a lot of voters who didn't get their ballot or received their ballot after Election Day," she explained.

McDonell said based on April's election, he is concerned if the state faces a similar situation in the November general election.

"We need to see something improved with the postal service. You can't have bins of ballots not delivered, you can't deliver ballots back to the clerk even though they're addressed correctly, you can't have postmarks all over the place," he said.

Election results by precinct can be found