Sample ballots for the 2021 Spring Primary and Spring Election have been approved by the Commission and are now available on the WEC website. The ballots specific to each election are further detailed in the attached PDF and include a link to the ballot series for each type. There are over 30 different ballot templates that were created due to the complicated nature of the spring election cycle and the inclusion of the special partisan contests for the two special elections that are happening concurrent with the spring primary and election. The ballot templates can be found posted on the agency website here: https://elections.wi.gov/forms?tid%5B%5D=119.
There are several versions of templates to reflect the numerous types of ballots currently in use throughout Wisconsin, including hand count paper ballots and both arrow and oval versions of optical scan templates. Additionally, separate proofs have been prepared for each type of municipality, i.e., cities, towns, and villages. The templates are outlined within their respective ballot series for both the Spring Primary and Spring Election.
For jurisdictions that utilize hand count paper ballots, nonpartisan elections are an opportunity to use consolidated ballots in lieu of ballot packets. The choice to use consolidated ballots must be approved by the County. In the case of counties and municipalities who will have a special partisan election for Assembly District 89 or Senate District 13, consolidated hand count ballots are not allowed (as has been the case with past partisan primaries).
In addition to the sample templates, this communication also includes a list of offices in the order in which they should appear on the ballot (as well as the preferred order in which to list referendum questions). For jurisdictions that will be listing a special partisan primary or election on their ballots, the special partisan contest should be listed first on the ballot, followed by the nonpartisan contests and any referendum questions.
Reminders Regarding Ballot Folds and Vote Tabulation:
When setting up ballot templates, specifically optical scan ballots, be mindful of how creases or scoring for absentee ballots will affect the ballot when it is folded. There are known issues with creases on absentee ballots being picked up in the oval or write-in field on some optical scan ballots, so please keep this in mind when laying out your contests. If laying out the contests in such a way is unavoidable for some reason, please emphasize the appropriate way to handle ballots that may be rejected for “false” overvotes during election inspector training. Specifically, if the tabulator is programmed to allow for the override function to be used for overvoted and crossover voted ballots, the ballot must be returned to the voter or election inspector for review. If voter intent can be determined for any reason, including situations where the tabulator improperly determined a crease through an oval or write-in field was a vote, the ballot must be remade so that it can be processed on the tabulator. If an overvote or crossover vote is present on the ballot the ballot should be reinserted into the machine and processed using the override function. Failure to follow these procedures as outlined in the Election Day Manual beginning on page 103 may result in contests being incorrectly identified as overvoted and good votes being improperly discarded.
For jurisdictions in State Senate and Assembly Districts with a special partisan election—there are a few additional things to keep in mind and special proofs have been prepared to serve as examples. To maintain best practices with ballot titles and formatting, please see the specific proofs that include examples of how to include a special partisan primary and a special partisan election onto what would typically be nonpartisan ballots. For jurisdictions in the 7th Congressional District, these ballots will look very similar to the ballots you utilized for the 2020 Spring Primary.
Proofing and Testing:
We know that counties already use various methods to test and proof ballots once they are received by the printer. Based on issues that were identified with ballot printing for the 2020 November General Election and the increase in by-mail absentee voting, we wanted to emphasize how important these procedures are to your pre-election process. To ensure folds do not impact how absentee ballots are counted, please work with your municipalities to test actual folded ballots as part of the proofing process and pre-election testing process. As explained previously in this memo, ballot folds can have an impact on vote tabulation and testing of folded ballots can help identify potential issues prior to ballots beings sent to voters. In addition, when ballots are received from the printer a representative sample should be reviewed and tested to determine if there are any defects that would impact tabulation. Elements essential to tabulation, such as timing marks for optical scan ballots, should be checked for imperfections that may cause problems with optical scanners reading those ballots. Identifying any potential issues prior to ballots being sent to voters will decrease the number of ballots that need to be remade on election day and increase the efficiency of election day operations.
Ballot Access Parties:
Additionally, please be aware that there are now four parties with ballot access following the November General Election. These parties are, in order of appearance on the ballot, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Constitution. Please see the memo that was previously circulated regarding this issue for more information: https://elections.wi.gov/node/7298.
Order of Offices:
The chart included in the attached PDF lists the official titles and order of appearance for offices that will appear on the spring ballots. Also listed is the appropriate order for listing multiple referendum questions from different levels of government.
Please contact us by email at @email or by phone at (608) 261-2028 with any questions you may have.