Absentee Voting Update


MADISON, WI – Going into the last day of early voting for the November 4 General Election, more than 240,300 absentee ballots have been cast so far, according to the Government Accountability Board.

Of the 240,308 ballots cast through the morning of Friday, October 31, there were 173,361 early votes cast in clerk’s offices and there were 66,947 ballots cast by mail or other absentee voting methods. There were 22,462 absentee ballots issued that had not yet been returned. “Ballots cast” means ballots completed and returned to the municipal clerk’s office. Those ballots are stored securely and then counted on Election Day at the polls or an alternate location.

“We have surpassed early voting numbers for the 2012 recall election, and will likely surpass all absentee voting for the recall,” said Kevin J. Kennedy, Wisconsin’s chief election official. In June 2012, there were 153,854 in-person (early) absentee votes and 265,427 total absentee votes. Historically, the highest voter turnout in a November gubernatorial election in the last 50 years was 52.4 percent in 1962.

In-person (early) absentee voting in the clerk’s office must end by 7 p.m. today, but some clerks may close earlier. Voters should check with their local clerk for hours.

On Thursday, Kennedy projected that 2.5 million Wisconsin residents – or 56.5 percent of eligible voters – will vote in the 2014 General Election, which would be a record for a November gubernatorial election. Turnout in the June 2012 recall was 2,516,371 voters, or 57.8 percent.

Kennedy cautioned that the absentee numbers released are partial and preliminary. Out of Wisconsin’s 1,852 municipal clerks, about 360 use the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) to track absentee ballots. However, those are the state’s larger municipalities, which cover 69 percent of Wisconsin’s voters. Also, some clerks may have delays in entering absentee ballots in SVRS and will catch up over the weekend.

Because of changes in election law moving the primary election date and changing the time period for in-person absentee voting in clerks’ offices, direct comparisons between these preliminary numbers and preliminary numbers from previous elections are difficult. Also, the number of clerks who track absentee ballots in SVRS has changed over time. Clerks tracked about 43 percent of absentee ballots in SVRS for the 2008 Presidential and General Election, compared to nearly 67 percent during the 2012 Gubernatorial Recall Election.

Here are some historical numbers of absentee ballots cast in recent elections:

Election Date Total Voters Turnout Total Absentee Votes Absentee Votes in Clerk’s Office  
 11/6/2012  3,080,628  70.4%  664,597  514,398
 6/5/2012  2,516,371  57.8%  265,427  153,854
 11/2/2010  2,185,017 49.7%    230,744  122,712
 11/4/2008  2,996,869  69.2%  647,175   NA

Statistical reports filed by clerks in 2008 did not break out the number of absentee votes cast in-person in the clerk’s office.

Elections Division Administrator Michael Haas reminded voters that the deadline to mail absentee ballots back to the clerk is Election Day, November 4. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received in the clerk’s office by 4 p.m. Friday, November 7 to be counted.

Haas offered these reminders for voters going into Tuesday’s election:

  • There is no early voting over the weekend or the Monday before Election Day.
  • Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. To avoid lines, avoid peak times first thing in the morning, over the lunch hour and after work.
  • Polls close at 8 p.m. If you are in line to vote at 8 p.m., you will be able to vote.
  • To find your polling place and see what will be on the ballot, go to http://MyVote.wi.gov.
  • If you need to register to vote for the first time or to update your registration due to a change in name or address, consider filling out the voter registration application form online at MyVote. The website will give you a filled-out form you can take to the polling place, which will save time and effort for you and poll workers.