As the August Partisan Primary and November General Election approaches, some municipalities throughout Wisconsin may be using alternate sites, outside of the clerk’s office, to conduct in-person absentee voting. While these alternate sites are allowed by statute, there are specific requirements to which clerks and municipal governing bodies must be mindful of when both establishing and using those alternate sites. These specifications are laid out in Wis. Stat. § 6.855(1),(2) and are summarized below.
Establishment of Alternate In-Person Absentee Voting Sites
In any municipality where alternate in-person absentee ballot sites will be used, those sites must have been established by the municipal governing body no later than 14 days prior to the time that absentee ballots are available for the August primary. (See WEC Election Calendar) With regard to the August Partisan Primary and the November General Election, this date was June 11, 2020. If, at this time, alternate sites have not been designated by the municipal governing body, they cannot be added prior to the August or November elections. There are no provisions in state statute that allow municipalities to establish a certain set of in-person absentee locations prior to the August Partisan Primary only to have a separate set of locations offered prior to the November General Election. Alternate in-person absentee voting locations established for the August Partisan Primary must also be used for the November General Election. Neither state statute nor the One Wisconsin Institute court decision limits the number of alternate absentee sites that may be established, nor the hours that voting may occur at those sites. Voting may not occur at any in-person absentee voting location on the Monday prior to an election.
Using Alternate In-Person Absentee Voting Sites
Municipal clerks who will be using multiple in-person absentee voting sites must list these sites in their Type E notice. Wis. Stat. § 10.01(2)(e). The notice must include the location of any alternate site established under Wis. Stat. § 6.855 and the hours during which voting will be made available for in-person absentee voting. Any in-person absentee voting site that was designated with the intention of use prior to the November General Election must also be noticed for in-person absentee voting during the period prior to the August Partisan Primary. If turnout at certain in-person absentee voting locations is expected to be lower for the August Partisan Primary than for the November General Election, clerks may offer limited voting hours or “by appointment only” voting at those sites. In the event that a Type E notice for the Partisan Primary has been published and does not list each alternate site as designated by the governing body, clerks should amend their Type E notice. The amended notice should reflect all locations that will be in use prior to both the Partisan Primary and General Election, and the respective hours of voting or if a location is “by appointment only.”
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