MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- The Wisconsin Elections Commission could not agree Wednesday on whether the state should send absentee ballot requests to all registered voters.
In a four-hour virtual meeting, the six-person panel of election commissioners deadlocked 3-3 on a proposal that would mail a ballot request to 2.7 million registered voters who have not requested an absentee ballot for the November elections.
The full proposal, which would cost $5.3 million, would also offset local postage costs associated with record amounts of ballot requests. The W.E.C. will now host a special meeting after Memorial Day to decide how to allocate the $7.3 million it received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal stimulus bill signed in late March.
In Wednesday’s meeting, the commission discussed lessons learned from the unprecedented April 7 elections, in which voters went to the polls during a pandemic and clerks were unprepared for the 1.3 million absentee ballot requests.
“When describing the absentee workload for this election, clerks repeatedly used words like ‘crushing,’ ‘unbelievable’ and ‘overwhelming,’” W.E.C. technology director Robert Kehoe said.
While the commission could not agree how to spend its CARES Act funding in this meeting, it did unanimously approve earmarking up to $500,000 for protective equipment and cleaning supplies for polling places this November.
Wisconsin will host partisan primary elections Aug. 11 ahead of the general election Nov. 3.