ELLSWORTH – Absentee ballots are arriving by mail. They are filling the dropbox. A few ballots are being completed right in the Ellsworth Village Hall.
That scenario is playing out across Pierce County and the state. With a week to go, more than 330,000 voters had returned their absentee ballots for the Aug. 11 primary, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
As of Monday morning, municipal clerks reported having received 836,469 absentee ballot applications. Those clerks also reported having sent out 821,378 ballots.
Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official, urged voters to return those 500,000 outstanding ballots as soon as possible to ensure they are received by 8 p.m. deadline Tuesday, Aug. 11.
“We want everyone’s vote to count, so complete and mail your absentee ballot as soon as possible,” Wolfe said in a news release. “The post office advises it may take a week for mail to get from you to your clerk’s office, so don’t wait.”
There was no breakdown listing the number of Pierce County voters who have cast absentee ballots to date.
Wolfe said that if voters are concerned their ballot won’t arrive in time, they should make arrangements to drop their ballot off at their clerk’s office or at the polling place on Tuesday.
Wolfe also reminded voters to follow procedure: make sure the return envelope is signed and properly witnessed plus provide an address. If a signature or address is missing, the ballot cannot be counted.
Registered voters can still request absentee ballots through myvote.wi.gov. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, Aug. 6.
Voters can also request absentee ballots by mailing, emailing or faxing their municipal clerk’s office. In-person absentee voting is also now available in municipal clerks’ offices. Some clerks offer in-person voting by appointment only.
Approximately 1.1 million Wisconsin citizens cast absentee ballots in the 2020 spring election. Of the 400,000 who went to the polls or worked them as an election judge, 71 definitely contracted COVID-19, according to the Department of Health Services' tracing. Social distancing was in place at that time through Gov. Tony Evers' Safer-at-Home order.
The pandemic is again prompting many people to vote early and avoid potential while standing in line on Aug. 11. Typically, 100,000 Wisconsinites have voted absentee in the partisan primary.