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Spring Election Reminders

Posted in
Timely Attention Required
March 27, 2017
Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission
Michael Haas, Interim Administrator
Clerk comm. re 2017 Spring Election Reminders.pdf97 KB

Based on issues which typically arise during spring elections, and on lessons which were highlighted during the recent Presidential elections, we wish to provide the following reminders to local election officials as the April 4, 2017 Spring Election approaches:

Extended Hours

•    The WEC will again have extended hours to serve local election officials leading up to and on Election Day. We will be answering calls and emails during the following extended hours:

Until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 31.
Until 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 3.
From 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, April 4.  If we are aware of unresolved issues on Election Night, staff will be available after 11:00 p.m.

Due to the lack of inquiries over the weekend during recent elections, at this time we are not planning to have WisVote staff on call on Saturday, April 1.  However, if you anticipate that you may need assistance on that date due to poll book printing or other issues, please let us know and we will designate a staff member to take calls on Saturday.  

Absentee Voting

•    While in-person absentee voting may continue during the upcoming weekend, the cutoff date for in-person voter registration is still 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 31.  Therefore if in-person absentee voting occurs on the weekend before the election, only voters who are previously registered may cast a ballot on those days.  No in-person absentee voting may take place on Monday, April 3.
•    Clerks and clerk staff conducting in-person absentee voting must include their signature and
address on the absentee certificate as a witness.  The lack of witness signatures and addresses on in-person absentee certificates created significant problems during the 2016 General Election and the Presidential recount as well as recounts of other contests.

•    Remember to track the request for, issuance of, and receipt of each absentee ballot within 48 hours.  Based upon our monitoring of WisVote, it appears that absentee ballot activity is not being recorded by some municipalities as required by the statutes.  See Checklist I for further information:

Polling Place Issues

•    A candidate on the ballot may not serve as an election inspector.  Also, an individual may not serve as an election inspector if a candidate’s success or failure to win election would affect the inspector financially, including if a candidate is a spouse or immediate family member of the election inspector:  Finally, the Government Accountability Board issued an advisory opinion in 2016 concluding that, with the exception of the municipal clerk, local elected officials generally may not serve as election inspectors:

•    Inspectors should take care to distribute the correct ballots to voters, especially when different school districts ballots are distributed at the same polling place.  In the event that a voter is issued and casts an incorrect ballot style, the voter is not issued a second ballot.  Also, if election inspectors determine that a second ballot was issued, this does not result in a drawdown.

•    The rules for counting write-in votes can seem complex, particularly at the end of a long Election Day.  Guidance for counting write-in votes, including specific examples, can be found on pages 107-110 of the Election Day Manual.  

•    At this time, there are two registered write-in candidates for state offices:

  1. Rick Melcher, Superintendent of Public Instruction
  2. Dennis Krueger, Waupaca County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 1

We will notify the appropriate counties if any additional write-in candidates for state office register by the deadline of noon on Friday, March 31.

•    In order to ensure the accurate counting of votes on ballots processed by the Optech Eagle optical scan voting system, the Commission recommends that all municipalities who continue to use the Optech Eagle require election inspectors to either remake all absentee ballots returned by mail or hand count those ballots.  Additional information related to the Optech Eagle procedures has been sent directly to counties and municipalities in which that equipment is used:

Election Night Results Reporting

•    The results of local contests, including school district contests and contests for special districts such as sanitary districts, must be included in the unofficial Election Night returns posted by county clerks two hours after receiving them from the municipalities.

•    Counties are not required to enter local contest into the WEC Canvass Reporting System (CRS). Counties may use CRS to facilitate the posting of Election Night Results.  Counties must enter certified results for state contest in CRS.

•    In response to questions regarding guidance posted last week, a revised memo on Election Night Results reporting has been posted to the WEC website along with revised CRS instructions for counties:  The new instructions include a third reporting format available using the download button.  

Provisional Ballot Tracking

•    Municipalities must post provisional ballot information on Election Night, and enter into WisVote the issuance of provisional ballots and the final disposition (counted/rejected) of all provisional ballots issued by Friday, April 7.  See Checklist II, which will be issued this week, for further information regarding the tracking of provisional ballots.

Photo ID Petition Process (IDPP)

•    Individuals without necessary documentation to obtain a regular Wisconsin State ID can still get a qualifying ID document to use for voting from the DMV.

•    For more information about the ID Petition Process, visit the DMV website here:

Provisional Ballots and IDPP Palm Card

•    Individuals who are unable to produce an acceptable form of photo ID must be offered the opportunity to vote a provisional ballot. Individuals voting a provisional ballot should be provided a copy of the IDPP palm card which provides information on how to obtain a qualifying ID document from the DMV.  English and Spanish language versions of the IDPP palm card can be found here:

•    Local election officials should ensure that a reasonable supply of IDPP palm cards is available at polling locations to provide to individuals who cast a provisional ballot or have questions about obtaining a qualifying ID from the DMV.  Individuals who vote a provisional ballot should visit a DMV as soon as possible after they cast their ballot to ensure they receive a qualifying ID document by the Friday after the election.

•    For additional information regarding the IDPP, please visit the WEC’s Bring It to the Ballot website:

If you have questions regarding these reminders, please contact the Elections Commission HelpDesk at or at (608) 261-2028.  We wish you the best at the Spring Election.