MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on the Wisconsin Election Commission’s moves on how much address information absentee voting witnesses must include on the ballots (all times local)
State elections officials have ordered local clerks to complete witnesses’ addresses on absentee ballots in move that ensures hundreds of ballots in Milwaukee will count.
A new Wisconsin law states absentee ballots missing a witness address don’t count. The law doesn’t say how much address information is needed, however. State Elections Commission staff told local clerks earlier this month that they can’t fill in missing elements without voter consent.
Milwaukee election administrator Neil Albrecht says he’s received hundreds of ballots with partial witness addresses that would have to be tossed and trying to contact voters is difficult.
Commission staff Friday proposed revised guidelines allowing clerks to fill in missing municipalities without voter consent. The commission tweaked the language to mandate clerks fill in the municipality and approved it unanimously.
Albrecht said the move will allow his office to easily preserve about 600 ballots.
State election officials want to relax requirements for local clerks to confirm partial addresses of absentee voting witnesses.
A new state law says absentee ballots missing a witness address can’t be counted but doesn’t say how much address information is necessary. Milwaukee election administrator Neil Albrecht says he’s received hundreds of ballots with partial witness address that would have to be thrown out.
Wisconsin Election Commission staff has issued guidelines that call for clerks to contact voters before correcting the addresses. Albrecht says that’s difficult.
Staff modified the policy on Friday morning to allow clerks to correct addresses without voter consent if they can ascertain the address through reliable sources such as tax rolls.
The commission was set to vote on the new policy later Friday.
The state Elections Commission is expected to vote on a plan outlining how much address information witnesses to absentee voting must include with the ballots.
A new state law says absentee ballots missing a witness address can’t be counted but doesn’t define how much address information is necessary. Elections Commission staff have recommended the panel require a street number, street name and the name of the municipality. The commission is set to vote on that recommendation Friday.
Neil Albrecht, the city of Milwaukee’s election administrator, has warned the requirement could lead to thousands of ballots not counting. He said last week that his commission has already received about 400 ballots where witnesses included only partial addresses and he expects to receive hundreds more with incomplete addresses before Election Day.
This story has been updated to correct in the top item that Elections Commission staff guidelines require clerks to obtain voter consent before filling in partial addresses, not the state law.