Volume III, Issue IX
May 5, 2023
May the fourth be with you ...
The first week of May is almost behind us and while sci-fi fans are celebrating the beloved franchise set in a galaxy far, far away, and while horse racing enthusiasts are champing at the bit for the Kentucky Derby, we've got a stable full of out-of-this-world information.
Happy Municipal Clerks Week!
Thank you, municipal clerks!
During this 54th Annual Professional Municipal Clerks Week, from April 30 to May 6, we wanted to thank municipal clerks for all of their hard work throughout the year, smoothly administering Wisconsin elections and supporting municipalities. Municipal clerks are integral to the system of election administration in Wisconsin, and we’re so grateful to be able to work with so many dedicated, brilliant, and resourceful professionals. We appreciate your commitment to serving Wisconsinites by providing safe, secure, and accurate elections, and are excited to continue our work together to make Wisconsin a great place to vote.
Commission Wrap-Up: Envelopes
During its April 28 meeting, WEC Commissioners made a series of important decisions related to the agency’s absentee ballot redesign project.
Absentee envelope highlights:
- The EL-120 absentee mailer envelope (carrying the ballot to the voter) and the EL-122 absentee application and certificate envelope (carrying the ballot back to the clerk) will continue to use the #14 and #12 envelope sizes.
- The finalized envelope design is planned to be approved on August 4, 2023.
- The new design was approved as statutorily compliant. However, please note, the design is not yet finalized or approved for use.
- The new envelopes must be in use by the February 2024 Spring Primary. Previous iterations of the absentee envelopes shall not be used again after a new design is approved. The current design can be used for special elections in 2023 if those special elections are held before the implementation of the new design.
A new era for the Elections Commission
Thank you, Commissioner Glancey!
The Wisconsin Elections Commission and staff thank former Commissioner Julie Glancey for her superb service to Wisconsin elections.
Glancey, a former clerk and Democratic Party appointee, has served on the Commission since its founding in 2016.
She resigned from her role on May 1 after a long career supporting election administration in Wisconsin.
Before joining the Commission, Glancey served as the Sheboygan County Clerk and as deputy clerk.
Commissioner Glancey's dedication to Wisconsin elections has been widely recognized, earning her the Wisconsin County Association 2012 Friend in County Government award.
Her knowledge and experience will be missed and we wish her a happy retirement.
Governor Evers Appoints Joseph Czarnezki to Elections Commission
Former Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki is slated to replace Glancey on the Commission.
Czarnezki brings experience working at all levels of government in Wisconsin. In addition to his services as Milwaukee County Clerk, he has served in both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature, the Milwaukee County Board, and the City of Milwaukee. He has also worked as an instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The WEC looks forward to the breadth of background Czarnezki will offer the Commission.
Voter List Maintenance
Four-Year Maintenance postcards will be sent soon!
Wisconsin Statute requires the WEC to identify electors who have not voted in the last four years every June following a General Election. This process, commonly referred to as Four-Year Maintenance, requires the WEC to mail notices to all voters who have been registered to vote for the past four years but have not voted. The notice indicates that voters’ registrations will be deactivated unless they request a continuation of their registration within 30 days.
Postcards will be mailed to voters on June 15.
To prepare for the Four-Year Maintenance, we will have a WisVote webinar on May 16 to answer any questions you might have. To sign up go to the Clerks page on elections.wi.gov and click on Upcoming Webinars or this link!
As the June 15 date draws nearer, we will provide additional communications about the project and assist everyone involved in this process.
If you would like to see the previous years’ voter maintenance results and statistics, please visit the Voter List Maintenance page on elections.wi.gov.
Badger Book Open Houses Coming In June
This summer the Badger Book team will host open house-style events for county and municipal clerks to view the e-pollbooks and learn more about them in a casual setting. The team is working to schedule those events regionally throughout June. If you and other municipalities in your area would like to get to know Badger Books, please email us at @email
From Inkwells to Internet, Veteran Clerk Reflects on a Lifetime of Progress
Clerk Feature: Marilyn Bhend
The commute to work for veteran Town of Johnson clerk Marilyn Bhend, from the kitchen table to the office – an upstairs bedroom in her home, located on the century-plus old Bhend Brothers farm – is short: one flight of stairs. For the 80-year-old, being “in the office” and “working remotely” are one and the same.
The house is no stranger to such a home/work relationship. Her husband’s uncle built the home in 1929, and he (the uncle) was the town’s clerk for nearly half a century, making Marilyn and her house legacies in the Town of Johnson.
The Marathon County community is 30 miles west of Wausau and has a population of about 980. The Town Hall is the only polling location, “and the most people we ever had vote was 300 for a presidential election,” Marilyn said. The Town of Johnson is rural, and many of its residents are Amish and Mennonite, many of whom do not vote.
It’s a tight-knit town and she knows nearly everyone on a first-name basis.
When her husband’s uncle was clerk, he used a ledger to record votes on Election Days. When Marilyn started in 1991 there was still no voter registration in place. “People came in. We put their names down in a little book,” Marilyn said. She gave voters a paper ballot. When completed they dropped the ballots through a slot of a locked wooden box, “and we counted the ballots that night,” Marilyn said.
She recalls those days with nostalgia, but she wouldn’t go back. Not a chance.
“Advancements have been tremendous, it’s 100 percent better,” she said, adding: “It makes the clerk’s job and the election inspector’s job so much easier, efficient, and more secure.”
Despite being educated in the days of desks with inkwells, Marilyn has embraced and excelled in the use of modern technology. “I had no computer knowledge. You learn by doing,” she said.
Marilyn got her first computer in 1995 and never looked back. She has mastered several generations of elections software and other improvements ushered in by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), now including Badger Books and MyVote. She loves the WEC webinars. “I do say, the Elections Commission puts on the best (webinars) of any state agency.”
She knew nothing of clerking when the town’s chairman came to her more than three decades ago to ask if she was interested in the position. “I said ‘OK’ not realizing all the responsibilities,” Marilyn said, adding that the necessary skill sets have been expanding and growing ever since. These days, “If you don’t know how to do finances and do a computer, don’t even think of running for a town clerk’s office anymore,” she advised.
Before being sworn into office, she had been a high school teacher in the nearby village of Athens. As a newlywed in 1968, she would joke with other educators that she didn’t know what to do with her dairyman husband Norman: “He goes out every night with the girls,” Marilyn would announce. Her female colleagues would respond, “You allow him? And I’d say, ‘Yes, there’re 60 of those four-legged girls in the barn.’” Visitors with Marilyn quickly learn she is not only very bright and sharp but also has a keen sense of humor.
Early in their marriage, Norman and Marilyn received their pilot’s licenses. They flew a Cessna 150 around the country from a sod landing strip on the farm. “My favorite time to fly was in the autumn, to go up a thousand feet above the ground, and see all of the fall colors,” Marilyn said. She remains active in the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Norman and Marilyn had two sons, a little more than seven months apart in 1971. “Tell me how that happens?” Marilyn said. She quickly related that both were full-term babies. After stumping the interviewer, Marilyn explained that David was adopted when he was two weeks old, “and then along came John,” she said with a smile.
Her second career, as town clerk, commenced when the boys turned 20.
Norman passed away in 2014, and two years ago Jade, a German Shepherd, joined Marilyn at the home office. “She’s such a socialized dog,” Marilyn said, explaining Jade accompanies her to Fire Commission and EMT meetings, the local elementary school to entertain the students, and to church.
Being the town clerk has never gotten old, Marilyn said. “I enjoy what I’m doing; it keeps my mind active!” She half-jokingly offers that she’ll only leave her office and home “feet first.”
As for advice to other clerks, she encourages all to continue to learn as technology and laws are constantly changing, “so that you’re effective and efficient in what you’re doing and to make sure that you follow your oath of office and to do what is best for your town.”
On her wish list, she said she would like the Legislature to change the timing for mail-in absentee ballots, advising current deadlines are too tight to get ballots mailed out and comfortably mailed back in time to be counted.
She said she would also like to see signature pads for Badger Books, as screens “get smudgy” with voters touching them.
Her only other wish is for Jade to get the gumption to join her on her two-seater Polaris UTV (Utility Task Vehicle). She’s piloting the four-wheeled rig rather than the Cessna these days and drives it the five miles into Athens to run errands.
“I open up the side door, and Jade won’t jump in,” she laments.
And what do folks around here think of her whizzing down county roads on her UTV?
“They just think that young lady, at four-score, you know what a score means in age don’t you?” Marilyn said. “ It’s 20. Take 20 times four. That’s my age. They just think that young lady at four-score is enjoying riding her UTV.”
And she is very much enjoying the life of a rural town clerk.
Upcoming Dates & Deadlines
Upcoming Commission Meetings
- June 1, 2023 – Special Meeting
- February 20, 2024 – Spring Primary (if necessary)
- April 2, 2024 – Spring Election & Presidential Preference Primary
- August 13, 2024 – Primary Election
- November 5, 2024 – General Election