Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary and an array of statewide and local elections are just about three weeks away.
With so many events postponed or in a state of uncertainty over the coronavirus crisis, here’s what we know about the Wisconsin elections.
Will the election still be held on April 7?
As far as we know, yes. Gov. Tony Evers has remained steadfast in his decision to keep the election date and said that it’s legally challenging to change a date that is set in law. Three other states have recently postponed their primaries — Georgia, Louisiana and Maryland — and in Ohio, the governor suspended in-person voting on the eve of the vote. But Wisconsin has more than just the presidential primary on the ballot — there are also local elected offices that may have to go unfilled if a vote isn’t held.
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If I don’t want to vote in person on election day, what are my choices?
If you want to vote from the comfort of your home, you can request an absentee ballot online, by email, fax or through the mail.
To request an absentee ballot online, go to www.myvote.wi.gov and follow the prompts after clicking on the box labeled “Vote Absentee” on the top right side of the page. The site allows voters to track their ballot so they know when the clerk has mailed it to them.
To request an absentee ballot by email or fax, voters must send an email or fax to their local clerk. A directory of local clerks throughout the state is available on the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s website. Ballots requested through email or fax must be returned by mail.
To request an absentee ballot by mail, voters must download a form from the Election’s Commission website and send it to their local clerk. The clerk must receive the application by 5 p.m. on April 2.
Though voters have through April 2 to request an absentee ballot, officials recommend that they do it as soon as possible so that the ballots can be mailed back to the clerk in time. A lawsuit filed in Madison by the Democratic National Committee and the state Democratic Party asked that voters be given more time to return their absentee ballots, but a judge did not rule in their favor on that issue. The lawsuit asked that voters be given until April 17 to return their ballot, as long as it’s postmarked by election day.
If voters still want to vote in person but want to avoid the polls on election day, early voting is still available at the local clerk’s office. But that could change. Milwaukee closed its three in-person voting locations over the weekend, and it’s possible others could follow suit. The hours and days that in-person early voting is available are determined by local clerks. Check your municipal court’s website for details.
As of March 23, nearly 483,000 people in the state have requested that absentee ballots be mailed to their houses, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The number of requests for ballots has already exceeded the last three spring election absentee ballot requests, the commission said in a Tuesday release.
What’s required if I want to vote without going to the polls?
Voters who request an absentee ballot or head to the polls for early, in-person voting will be required to present a form of photo ID or proof of residence, though these requirements are currently being contested by the same lawsuit asking for the extension of time to return absentee ballots.
What’s the deadline to vote absentee?
For voters wanting to vote absentee, a ballot must be requested by 5 p.m. on April 2.
I’m not registered to vote. Is it too late to register online?
No. The original cutoff was March 18, but a federal judge ordered online registration reopened in a ruling the evening of March 20. Online registration is expected to resume March 24.
Laura Schulte can be reached at email@example.com and twitter.com/SchulteLaura.
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