MADISON – Wisconsin candidates can start collecting signatures Wednesday to get on the ballot this fall, but they’ll have to figure out how to do that safely in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Candidates for Congress, Legislature and other offices typically visit parades and neighborhood festivals to gain support for their runs. This year, that’s not so easy.
“The process is a petri-dish of potential additional transmission of the virus at this most critical time,” Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske Jr. wrote in a recent letter to the state Elections Commission.
Molepske is the president of the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, which wants the state to give candidates more time to collect signatures or set up a web-based or telephone-based system they can use to collect signatures. The state’s 71 district attorneys are all up for election this fall.
The commissioners determined Friday they didn’t have the power to make such changes.
But they gave campaigns one way to deal with the issue. They said they would allow candidates’ supporters to download forms from the internet, sign them and mail them to the campaigns.
Signatures must be turned in by June 1. Candidates have to gather hundreds of signatures, with the precise number depending on which office they are seeking.
The commissioners on Friday declined to allow supporters to use electronic signatures for nomination papers.
Contact Patrick Marley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
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