Reporting "Scattering" Votes


Timely Attention Required



Wisconsin County Clerks
Milwaukee County Election Commission


Diane Lowe, Lead Elections Specialist
G.A.B. staff has received inquiries from county clerks with respect to 2013 Act 178 and its effect on reporting scattering votes.  The questions stem from the significant change to counting write-in votes established by the Act.  There are various thought processes among clerks as to which votes should be included in scattering.  So that all counties are reporting scattering votes uniformly, G.A.B. staff is instituting the following procedure:
Background and Overview
Previously, election inspectors were required to count all write-in votes.  Act 178 attempts to lessen the burden of counting write-in votes by setting criteria that limits which write-in votes are required to be tallied depending on the circumstances.  This means that the number of write-in votes counted by the inspectors is likely going to be different than the number of write-in votes listed on the results tape.
The results tape produced by the OS equipment shows the number of completed arrows/ovals next to write-in lines.  There may be more write-ins than the number reflected on the tape (name written in, but arrow/oval not completed) or there may be less (oval filled in, but no name).  With time and effort the tape and the actual write-in votes could be reconciled.  However, the intent of the legislature when drafting Act 178 was to reduce the number of extraneous write-in votes that inspectors are required to count.  Therefore, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to reconcile the number of write-in votes on the tape with the number counted or not counted by the inspectors, defeats the purpose of the legislation. 
Inspectors will count all votes for registered write-in candidates.
·         In preparation for the canvass, the county clerk will inspect the tally sheets for votes cast for registered write-in candidates. 
·         The county clerk will list the votes in the appropriate reporting unit under the candidate’s name in the CRS. 
·         The number of votes cast for a registered write-in candidate in each reporting unit will be subtracted from scattering.
Inspectors will count votes for non-registered write-in candidates in some cases.  Votes for nonregistered write-in candidates in offices where there is no ballot candidate or a ballot candidate is deceased, must be recorded on the tally sheets. 
·         All votes for nonregistered write-in candidates remain in scattering.
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