Each year the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) provides local election officials with a consolidated calendar of election administration events for the coming year. Many of you have come to rely on this calendar as your primary resource for election deadlines and have been anxiously contacting the G.A.B. asking when the new 2016 calendar will be available. This communication is to announce that the 2016 calendar is now available, but may be subject to change.
You can find the new 2016 Calendar of Election Events is available online at: http://www.gab.wi.gov/publications/2015-2016-election-events-calendar
This year the calendar was delayed due to pending legislation (AB-389/SB-295) which would make a number of changes to election laws including a change to the absentee ballot return deadline. At the time of this memo, these bills have been introduced and had a public hearing, but have not been scheduled for a vote by either the Senate or the Assembly. As the future of these bills are uncertain, Board staff has not attempted to incorporate them into the calendar at this time, but wanted to get the calendar out to clerks who need it to prepare for 2016. If legislation should be passed that alters any of these deadlines, the G.A.B. will produce a revised calendar as soon as possible.
Special Procedures for the 2016 Presidential Preference and Spring Election
In reviewing the calendar, you will likely notice a conflict between the canvassing of the 2016 Spring Primary and the deadline to send absentee ballots for the 2016 Presidential Preference and Spring Election. Under state law, absentee ballots for the Presidential Preference and Spring Election must be sent no later than February 18, which is only two days after the Spring Primary. Obviously this is too short of a window to certify the primary results and prepare absentee ballots.
To address this conflict, the G.A.B. is directing county clerks to prepare Presidential Only ballots that municipal clerks will send to all military and permanent overseas electors as soon as possible once the list of presidential candidates is finalized in late January. When full ballots are available, municipal clerks should send the full ballot to any military electors who may have received the Presidential Only ballot as well as all other electors who are eligible to receive a full absentee ballot. Further details on this procedure will be developed and communicated to clerks in 2016.
Wis. Stat. § 7.515(3) currently allows the counting of absentee ballots postmarked no later than election day as long as they are received no later than 4 p.m. on the Friday following the election. Wis. Stat. § 6.97(3)(b) gives provisional voters until 4 p.m. on the Friday following the election to provide any missing information. In 2016, both of these deadlines fall on November 11, Veterans Day.
Veterans Day is a state and federal (postal) holiday. Typically under state law, if a deadline falls on a holiday, the deadline is moved to the next secular day. However, many municipal offices do not close for Veterans Day and moving the deadline would impact the canvassing timeline for the General Election. For the time being, Board staff has chosen to leave these deadlines on November 11 so that the issue may be reviewed in more detail at a later date. If the decision is made to move the deadlines to the following Monday, a clerk communication will be issued providing further guidance.
The 2016 calendar includes a number of new entries based on clerk feedback:
- Deadline for villages to receive petitions for a primary.
- Last day for electors to begin to acquire residence for each election.
- Deadline for registered write-in candidates to file a GAB-1.
As in years past the staff has taken the additional step of providing the calendar in multiple formats including Adobe Acrobat, Word, and Excel for your convenience. Instructions are available at the G.A.B. website for importing the Excel spreadsheet into different versions of Microsoft Outlook’s Calendar.
You may call our Help Desk at (608) 261-2028 or email the Help Desk at [email protected] if you have any questions or need further assistance.