A More Detailed Cost of Elections Document


Medium Priority



Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission


Diane Lowe, Lead Elections Specialist
Attachment Size
detailed_costs_elections.pdf 43.74 KB

A number of questions have arisen lately with respect to financial responsibility for various election-related supplies and procedures. The Elections Specialists, our staff attorneys and the Division Administrator met to try to address county and municipal clerk questions and concerns. This memo addresses supply categories most asked about. Following each category is an explanation of the statutory rationale that dictates the financial responsibility for the category. Included with this memo is a revised “Cost of Elections” document.

Posters (and Other Items Required to be Posted at Polling Place)

GAB-111 Election Fraud
GAB-112 Notice of Cross-over Voting at Partisan Primary
GAB-114 Notice of Cross-over Voting at a Presidential Preference Primary
GAB-115 Voter Qualifications
GAB-116 Instructions for Mail-in and First-Time Voters
GAB-117 Voting Rights
GAB-118 Contact Information
Types B and C Notices

It is the responsibility of the municipal clerk to equip the polling place for an election. §7.15(1)(a), Wis. Stats. The polling place is required to display certain posters and other documents. §5.35(6), Wis. Stats. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the municipal clerk to provide and pay for the election posters (the GAB forms listed above) required to be displayed at the polling place. If the county provides the posters to a municipality, the municipality must reimburse the county for the cost. The posters are to be of a durable material so that they can be used for many elections. Unless it becomes necessary to revise the content of the posters, there should be no need to purchase new posters or receive new posters from the county for each election. Posters must be displayed in no less than 18 pt. font.

Each level of government is required to post or publish Types A (Notice of Election and/or Referendum), B (Sample Ballots and Voting Instructions) and C (Notice of Referendum) Notices for their respective elections. §5.68(2), Wis. Stats. Types A, B and C Notices are provided by and paid for by:

  • The county clerk for federal, state and county elections and referenda,
  • The municipal clerk for municipal elections and municipal referenda,
  • The school district clerk for school district elections and school district referenda.

If the notices are combined between levels of government, the cost is pro-rated proportionately.

The municipal clerk is responsible for absentee voting and for polling places. Therefore, the Types D (Hours and Locations of Polling Places) and E (Notices of Absentee Voting) Notices are provided by and paid for by the municipal clerk. §10.06(3)(as), (d), Wis. Stats.

Notices required to be posted at the polling place (Types B, C and D) must be displayed in no less than 18 pt. font.

Ballot Containers and Associated Materials

Ballot Bags
Cable ties
Chain of Custody document (attached to ballot bags)

Ballot bags with ballot certificate (GAB-101), numbered ties/seals and the Chain of Custody document may be addressed altogether, because they are inseparable. Every ballot bag must bear a certificate and be accompanied by a numbered tie/seal and custody must be documented for each bag.

The items listed in this section are provided by and paid for by:

  • The County Clerk for Federal, State and County Elections
  • The Municipal Clerk for Municipal Elections
  • The School District Clerk for School District Elections


This is based on the method by which elections were conducted when the statutes were written. Voting was generally done on paper, hand count ballots. Each level of government was responsible for providing ballots for their respective elections and the bags in which the ballots would be secured.

Where optical scan ballots are used, the County provides the ballots. The ballot cost is prorated between levels of government conducting an election. When the election is concluded, the ballots will be returned to the county for storage. Therefore, the County provides the bags but, again, the cost is prorated among the levels of government conducting an election.

The “chain of custody” document follows the travels of the ballot bag on Election Day. Again, the County provides this document, but the cost is pro-rated among the levels of government conducting an election.

I hope this memo and the expanded “Cost of Elections” document prove helpful to you. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.