On September 1, 2020, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) is sending an informational mailing to approximately 2.6 million Wisconsin voters. This memorandum summarizes the contents of the mailing and explains how the mailing will (and will not) affect clerks.
Why are we sending a mailing? The 6-member, bi-partisan Elections Commission voted unanimously in May of 2020, directing staff to send an informational mailer to voters about their options to cast a ballot in November. They further directed that the mailer should include an absentee ballot request form. Many people suggested a mailing after the April 2020 election when the WEC staff and Wisconsin clerks fielded thousands of questions from people asking how they could vote during the pandemic. As you know, we were also swamped with absentee ballot requests, many containing errors or missing essential information. The mailing is designed to explain to voters all three options to vote in the November General Election. Put simply, the main objectives of the mailing are to:
1. Explain how registered voters can cast a ballot for the November General Election
2. Encourage voters to use Myvote.wi.gov
3. Encourage voters who choose to request absentee ballots to act early and return the ballot promptly.
What is in the mailing? In total, voters will receive three pieces:
• Voter information mailer (Exhibit A)
• Absentee Application designed specifically for this mailer (Exhibit B)
• A pre-addressed, business reply return envelope to the WEC (no postage required by voter).
While the mailing encourages voters to use Myvote.wi.gov, a paper absentee application is included so that individuals without internet access have an option to easily request a ballot.
Who is receiving the mailing? Not all voters will receive the mailing. The mailing is only going to voters who are registered to vote in Wisconsin, not in Active Mover’s status, and did not already have a General Election absentee request on file at the end of June.
Where is it going? The mailing will reach voters in all 1,850 Wisconsin municipalities.
When is it going? All pieces will be mailed on September 1, 2020, and should arrive in a few days, although corners of the state may take longer to reach.
3. POST-MAILING TOPICS.
Will clerks receive more calls because of the mailing? Possibly. But the mailing instructs voters to call the WEC at a toll-free number. Additional staff will be available to handle expected call volume. Callers will be referred to their local clerk only when the law requires it.
Will clerks receive more absentee requests? Perhaps in the short-term. Remember that each request will come from a registered voter who wants to cast a ballot. The mailing is simply designed to encourage people to act early, so that they are not flooding clerks with requests (and calls) at the last minute.
Who processes the paper absentee requests in the mailing? The simplified absentee request form (Exhibit B) will come to the WEC for processing. WEC staff will perform all data entry and scan photo IDs. The only thing that WEC staff cannot do is approve the request and send the ballot. That responsibility rests solely with the local clerk. As each request is entered into WisVote, clerks can review and approve with a few mouse clicks. Clerks may then mail the ballot as they normally would.
Clerks will follow slightly different processes depending if they are WisVote users or not.
Reliers will receive any requests by e-mail:
WisVote users (self-providers) will receive requests through WisVote:
What about requests with problems? When clerks identify problems with requests, WEC staff will perform outreach to voters to resolve issues. It is our objective to perform as much processing as possible at our level without adding to your already full workload. WEC will also provide clerk training about how the processing will work for both WisVote self-providers and for those clerks who are WisVote reliers.
What about the original paper record of an absentee request? These will be mailed to clerks after processing is complete. They are only for your records and no action is required on the paper copies.
What if a voter moved? The mailing will not be forwarded so if someone has moved the letter will be returned to the WEC.
If you have any questions about this memorandum or the mailing in general please contact our Help Desk at [email protected] or 608-261-2028.
Exhibit A – Absentee Mailer
Exhibit B – Simplified Absentee Request Form