Circulation of Nomination Papers During COVID-19

DATE:    April 13, 2020

TO:    Candidates for Elective Office – Fall 2020
           All County and Municipal Filing Officers
FROM:    Meagan Wolfe, Administrator
                Wisconsin Elections Commission

SUBJECT:    Circulation of Nomination Papers – 2020 General Election

The Wisconsin Elections Commission (“Commission”) met on April 10, 2020 to discuss the nomination paper circulation period for the 2020 General Election during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

The Commission unanimously passed the following three motions:      

1)    The Commission reaffirms that it does not have the statutory authority to change or modify current statutory procedures related to the circulation of nomination papers for the 2020 General Election. 

The Commission is an administrative agency, tasked with administering Chapters 5-10, 12, Wis. Stats. and other laws relating to elections and election campaigns.  Wis. Stat. § 5.05(1).  The Commission does not have the authority to change provisions and requirements set forth in state statute.  Without legislative changes, an order of the Governor under his emergency powers to manage a health crisis or an order of a court, the Commission must enforce the nomination paper procedures contained in statute.

2)    In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Commission reaffirms the use of “single signed and circulated” nomination papers to limit the amount of in-person/face-to-face contact that normally occurs during the circulation of nomination papers.  

A ”single signed and circulated” nomination paper is a document provided by a candidate to individual supporters (download from a website, sent by mail or email).  The supporter completes the signature line of the page with the required information (printed name, signature, address and date of signing) and then also completes the certification of circulator as the individual who presented the paper for signing.  Once the individual has completed the certification of circulator, they then provide the nomination paper back to the campaign via mail or hand delivery.  In addition to use by individuals, the “single signed and circulated” nomination paper can also be used by families or roommates who are at home and are unable or unwilling to leave their home during the public health crisis.  

3)    The Commission encourages candidates circulating nomination papers for the 2020 General Election use the U.S. Mail to obtain signatures on nomination paper during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

The Commission encourages candidates to collect nomination paper signatures from supporters by using the U.S. Mail.  Once signatures have been obtained and the certification of circulator has been completed, the individual is encouraged to send it back to the candidate in the mail.  

If you have additional questions about this guidance, please contact the WEC at (608) 261-2028 or @email.