Americans’ support for mail-in voting jumps amid safety concerns during the virus pandemic. As Ohio holds its virtually all-mail primary Tuesday, a new AP-NORC poll finds Dems more likely than the GOP to support elections exclusively by mail. (April 27) AP Domestic
MADISON – Wisconsin election officials are considering mailing absentee ballot request forms to 2.7 million voters this fall because of sky-high interest in mail voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bipartisan state Elections Commission on Wednesday will consider mailing the request forms as part of a $5.3 million plan that would also help local governments cover their election costs, make absentee ballot instructions more user friendly and ensure polling sites are stocked with hand sanitizer.
The commission is weighing the proposals after voters and clerks faced numerous challenges in running the April 7 election for state Supreme Court. Election officials struggled to fulfill an unprecedented number of requests for absentee ballots and keep in-person voting safe.
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Wisconsin has received $7.3 million in federal aid to deal with election costs amid the coronavirus outbreak. The commission’s staff has recommended the state spend a chunk of those funds on several initiatives.
Absentee ballot request forms
At a cost of about $2.1 million, the commission staff recommends the state send absentee ballot request forms to 2.7 million voters. The voters would receive information about the state’s online portal for requesting absentee ballots, myvote.wi.gov, as well as a paper copy of the form they could mail in along with a copy of their photo ID to get an absentee ballot.
Under the plan, the mailings would be sent to most registered voters. The mailings would not go to those who already have absentee ballot requests on file. They also would not be sent to about 129,000 registered voters who are believed to have moved.
Another $2.6 million would go to municipal clerks to cover increased mailing costs. The amount the clerks would get would depend on the number of voters who live in their communities.
In addition, the state would spend $500,000 on hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies for polling sites this fall.
In the last part of the plan, the state would spend about $133,000 on absentee ballot envelopes that are more user friendly. The envelopes include information and instructions voters need to follow to make sure they submit their ballots correctly.
Forms could also go to voters who haven’t registered
The commission is also considering a plan that would send absentee ballot request forms to about 206,000 people who are eligible to vote but who are not registered to vote.
The state routinely contacts people who are not registered to vote to tell them how to do so and it is slated to send a new batcof them in June. Because of the increased interest in absentee voting, the commission is considering sending them ballot request forms along with information on how to register.
Voter rolls lawsuit ongoing
Among the lawsuits the Elections Commission faces is one over the registration status of voters who the state believes may have moved. That case is before the state Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by June on whether the voters should come off the rolls.
The state sent letters to 232,000 voters in October saying it believed they had moved. New data show the registration status of more than 100,000 of those voters has now been resolved.
Nearly 42,000 of the voters are no longer active on the voter rolls. About 62,000 others have registered at new addresses or confirmed that they have not moved.
That leaves about 129,000 voters who could be tossed off the rolls if the state Supreme Court rules against the commission.
Contact Patrick Marley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
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