MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – After lots of disagreement and back-and-forth arguments, the Wisconsin Elections Commission approved sending absentee ballot request forms to most registered voters.
The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to send absentee ballot request forms, not actual ballots, to nearly 2.7 million registered voters ahead of the November election.
Voters who fill out the form would still need to provide a copy of their photo ID to receive a ballot for November 3.
Much of the nearly two-hour meeting Wednesday focused on whether or not the commission should have final approval over the wording used in any mailings sent to voters.
“I trust the staff to be able to craft a cogent letter mailing with proper instructions and be able to get that printing process going,” Commissioner Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, said.
Democrats on the commission worry about a disagreement over wording and wanted to leave it up to staff while Republicans insisted both sides would be able to work out their differences.
“That's something that's not acceptable to me and maybe to everybody else, but that is something that we need to look at,” Commissioner Robert Spindell, a Republican, said.
At one point, the commission considered not sending out applications—instead leaving it up to municipalities.
“I was thinking that was a really great thing to be able to save the municipal clerks that time and effort of having to do all of that and I don't like to see all of that now be gone,” Commissioner Marge Bostelmann, a Republican, said.
Ultimately, commissioners decided to mail applications statewide and to review the language used in the mailing themselves at their June 10 meeting, which could lead to more deadlock and the risk of absentee ballot request forms not being sent if members can't agree on the wording.
The mailings will be funded with a grant from Congress meant to aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioners also approved using federal funds to provide aid to local clerks who will likely see a surge in absentee voting this fall. Each municipality will receive $200 and an additional $1.10 for each registered voter residing within their jurisdiction.