Dear Editor: The Madison Board of Canvassers met on Friday, April 8, to count the absentee ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and arrived between Wednesday and Friday. They opened the 572 absentee ballots that met the criteria, and added them to the tally. This process has worked well to reduce the number of absentee ballots that are rejected.
However, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association requested a law change: “(A)bsentee ballots must either be received by mail or be delivered to the polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.” They claim that counting these votes is an administrative burden, even though they need to meet anyway on the Friday after the election to handle the provisional ballots.
Sadly, the Legislature did change the law, effective for this November. Ballots will be rejected if they are delayed in the mail and arrive after Election Day. If this change had been in effect for the April 5 election, 572 Madison voters would have been disenfranchised.
Mail delays are getting worse due to postal service consolidations. The absentee ballot needs to make two mail trips, one to the voter and one back. Although voter ID gets the headlines, this law change could also have a big effect. An alternative for some voters is to vote early at the clerk’s office, but there were long wait times during the last days of the April early voting in Madison.
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