WEC Newsletter Volume III, Issue XIII

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WEC Newsletter

Volume III, Issue XIII
July 27, 2023

The American Flag flies proudly above the brightly colored Ferris Wheel at the Dane County Fair

Photo by Dawn Perry via Creative Commons

Come along for the ride!

Summer is in full swing with county fairs popping up all across the state. Today we've got an ice-cold chunk of news and announcements on a stick for you!

National winner: The four-part video series walks viewers through various aspects of election administration. in Wisconsin. Props to all the clerks who helped us produce the project!

We WON! Video project takes NASED prize

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is pleased to report that our “Elections 101” voter education project from 2022 has won the every-other-year Innovators Award from the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED).

And we’re even more pleased to share the national recognition with clerks and other election officials all across Wisconsin! Along with input from WEC staff, it was feedback, suggestions, and pointers from clerks and others in the field that really helped shape and direct the four-part video series, which can be found at elections.wi.gov/101.

The voter education effort was directed at high school students, in conjunction with the Department of Public Instruction, and the general public, via partnerships with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. Each of the videos explores different aspects of election administration in Wisconsin.

The award was presented this week to the WEC at NASED’s conference in Charleston, S.C.

Check out ELECTIONS 101: Highlights Reel from Wisconsin Elections Commission on Vimeo. If you like this video, make sure you share it, too!

WEC Newsletter turns two!

On July 29, 2021, we launched the WEC Newsletter. Since then we have expanded our coverage and added features based on your recommendations.

As we move forward, we are excited to continue bringing you important information, clerk features, and helpful advice. If there is anything you would like to see featured in the WEC newsletter, please send your suggestions to [email protected] with "Newsletter Pitch" in the subject line.

Thank you for reading!

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Photo by Corey Coyle via Creative Commons.

Voter list maintenance underway

The four-year maintenance entry deadline is July 31!

July 15 was the deadline for a voter to respond with a Request for Continuation of Registration for the 2023 four-year voter record maintenance. Requests for continuation made after July 15 cannot be accepted and the voter should be informed that they will need to re-register.

Clerks have until 4 p.m. on July 31 to complete the data entry for any request for continuation made before the deadline. Afterward, Elections Commission staff will deactivate the voter records of individuals who did not respond to the Notice of Suspension of Registration. Voters who did not respond with a request for continuation of registration will be given a status of “Inactive - 4 Year Maintenance” in WisVote.

Clerks will not be able to record postcard data in WisVote after July 31, 2023.

If clerks continue to receive responses after July 31, please handle them as follows:

  • Undeliverable Postcards: These voters were inactivated. File the postcard with the voter registration document.
  • Continuations: If you receive a continuation request after July 15, it is not a valid request. The voter must re-register. Commission staff recommends directing the voter to MyVote.wi.gov or mailing the voter an EL-131 form.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission would like to thank all clerks for their efforts in this vital process. If you have any questions, please contact the WEC Help Desk at 608-261-2028 or [email protected].

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Rock on, EAA: This wild-looking rig is our ode to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh event, always a summer favorite, going on in the Fox Valley this week. Photo by Robert Katrosits via Creative Commons.

Takeoffs and Landings: Keep WisVote fresh

Any departing staff or staff moving to a different clerk's office should notify the WEC Helpdesk

Maintaining your contact information and staff list in WisVote is crucial for ensuring that voters can contact your office and that only active election officials have access to this sensitive database. You can easily verify that your municipality's clerk contact information is correct by using MyVote. Click on the "Find My Clerk" link in the footer and enter a local address.

Also, as a matter of routine, please keep the WEC Helpdesk aware of any incoming or outgoing staff members who need WisVote access and the dates when WEC needs to change their access.

Please contact the WEC Helpdesk if you have any questions about your staff's credentials for WisVote.

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Fueling up: Just like your favorite food stop at the county fair, the WEC Newsletter offers one-stop shopping for all your needs. Only without the line! Photo by Corey Coyle via Creative Commons. Concessions at the Fennimore Fun Fest.

WEC's outgoing email has changed

Some clerks have reported issues receiving emails from the WEC's new ticketing system. The fix for this will require a change in the way the WEC sends emails and may require clerks and their staff to whitelist our email domains.

When you email any of the WEC's contact addresses, such as @email, you can expect to see replies come from @email. Only replies sent from the WEC are affected, so continue to send emails to us as you have in the past to @email.

If you have changed your email address – perhaps after switching to a .gov domain – please fill out a new EL-362 so we can update the email addresses.

Going forward, please ensure your IT department is allowing these domains:@lists.wi.gov  and @electionsupport.wi.gov Your local IT team should be able to assist, if needed.
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We're almost ready for showtime! Thanks to suggestions and feedback from clerks and voters from around the state, we are set to present our redesigned Absentee Ballot Application/Certification to the Commission at its Aug. 4 meeting. Photo by Ken Mattison via Creative Commons.

And the grand prize goes to you!

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the new absentee certificate envelope design. WEC staff traveled to Mukwonago, Marinette, Prairie du Chien, Madison, Milwaukee, Oak Creek, West Bend, Green Bay, Rhinelander, Colby, and Lake Delton to talk to clerks, poll workers, and voters. These sessions provided valuable insight and prompted changes to make these envelopes as usable as possible for all involved while complying with state statutes.

Here are some of the changes made based on the feedback provided:

  • Breaking sections into steps and specifying who is responsible for completing each
  • Putting the spaces for clerk initials at the top instead of the bottom
  • Adding a warning label by required witness information
  • Breaking the qualification language into bullet points instead of a single paragraph

Now it is up to the Commission to determine how the final rollout will go. Please feel free to attend the online Commission meeting on August 4, and don’t forget about the subgrant to help offset costs incurred when buying the new envelopes.

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Photo by Corey Coyle via Creative Commons.

WEC plans to reboot its Security TTX training

Some clerks may remember the WEC's security table-top exercises, or "Security TTXs" that were conducted throughout the state before 2020. In these training sessions, WEC staff would simulate an election day and participants would respond to the various scenarios presented. As the pandemic required a turn towards virtual learning, these trainings pivoted from being an in-person exercise to a roundtable discussion held virtually.

The WEC is looking to bring these trainings back and we want to hear from you! Would you be interested in attending such training again? What format would you prefer? What topics would you like covered? Or maybe you have a few scenarios from your own experience that you think we should include? We want to know!

Share your thoughts


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Voting Across Death's Door

Washington Island Ferry Photo by clare_and_ben via Creative Commons.

Administering elections on Wisconsin island brings adventure

Clerk Feature: Jill Lau

In the place where the waters of the Green Bay meet mighty Lake Michigan lie the infamous, once-treacherous waters aptly called Death’s Door.

The swirling waves there separate the Door Peninsula from Door County’s farthest polling outpost, Washington Island, a vacation paradise a few miles northeast of the mainland.

Jill Lau

The passageway is known for strong currents, unpredictable winds, hidden shoals, sandbars, and rocky shores. The waters first took the lives of Native Americans in canoes. They called the stretch the Door of Death. The French agreed. Their phrase: Port des Morts, roughly translates in English to Death’s Door.

Here, back in the day, storms sunk some 275 schooners and sailboats, and other vessels ran aground. Some seemed to just disappear.

Much safer ferries now make the crossing, as does the Town of Washington municipal clerk, who must fetch an ample supply of ballots from the county clerk before each island election.

“In the rare event the municipal clerk couldn’t get off the island, then we have used our sheriff’s department to transfer election-related materials up to the island,” said Door County Clerk Jill Lau from her Sturgeon Bay office.

While in summer the numbers of islanders swell, Washington Township’s year-round population is just under 800 people. “They’re very good voters on the island,” with an average turnout of 85 percent,” said Lau.

Only the Ashland County clerk – who covers Madeline Island – joins Lau in administering island voting in Wisconsin.

Mmm ... pie: County fairs are known for their pie contests, and everyone knows that Door County cherry pies are some of the best in the world. Photo by Eden, Janine, and Jim via Creative Commons.

“It is a unique situation, but I’ve been with the county for 16½ years and we have had a great working relationship with our islanders. They’re great clerks (she has worked with several over the years), great people overall,” Lau said.

She says Death’s Door has caused few election issues. “Even though they’re (the voters) disconnected by water, and it takes a ferry to get there, everything has worked out well, and we’ve been lucky,” Lau said. “It could be difficult, but we’ve made things work.”

Election results are sent via modem back to the mainland using landlines. “We’re old school up here in the county,” Lau said. “We don’t use any cell towers. We just simply don’t have the capacity to do that.”

“It kind of ticked me off...”

Her path to the clerk profession was, in a word, interesting. In 2000, she and her husband were building a new home just south of Sturgeon Bay in the Town of Nasewaupee. Legally, the couple needed the local town clerk to provide them with an address for their soon-to-be-constructed abode. After repeated attempts to reach the clerk failed, Lau grew frustrated. When she finally had success, the clerk seemed to not know that providing addresses for homes under construction was a facet of her duties.

“It kind of ticked me off,” Lau said. Her way of mounting a protest was to run a campaign against the clerk, although she did not really want to win an election. Well, she did and quickly learned there was much more to being a clerk than previously thought: “Oh my goodness, it was an eye-opener!”

Thankfully, she had a good friend who was also a clerk in a nearby municipality. The friend became her mentor.

When the county clerk retired five years later, in 2006, Lau was still “feeling a little bit new” as a town clerk. She started checking around with Door County’s other 18 municipal clerks, figuring one of the more veterans in the field would want to step up to the county level. “And nobody wanted to run, so I threw my hat in the ring and gave it a try,” Lau said.

She was now Door County clerk, yet her municipal clerk days were far from over.

After its clerk resigned in 2015, the Town of Nasewaupee wanted her services again. Lau agreed to hold both positions – county clerk and municipal clerk - for a short stretch. Well, “a little while turned into running for another term, and another term, and so yes it has been an adventure. Being a clerk is an adventure,” she said.

After years of dual service, she thought she had finally stepped away from the municipal job when it became an appointed position following a referendum last November. A new clerk was hired, and “that lasted one week,” Lau said.

Under an emergency order, she has now agreed to be the appointed deputy town clerk until a new clerk is hired, “and nobody is standing in line to get that job,” according to Lau.

She can understand why. “It has become a very stressful job,” Lau said. “Clerks don’t live in boxes. They live in circles because you bounce from side to side, and you never know which way you are going to turn. At any given time, you must drop a project to move in another direction.”

She now prepping the county and her town for the next election cycle, to the best of her abilities.

“As much as we think we are prepared, are we? Lau asks. “There is always something that comes from out of nowhere.”

And from Sturgeon Bay at the foot of Door County to the farthest outreaches of Washington Island, across Death’s Door, she said she knows that new “adventures” always await.

Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

Upcoming Commission Meetings

  • August 4, 2023 – Special Meeting
  • September 2023 – Quarterly Meeting

Upcoming Elections

  • 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

Questions or comments?

Call 608-261-2028 or email @email


Wisconsin Elections Commission
201 West Washington Avenue, 2nd FloorMadison, WI 53703
P.O. Box 7984
Madison, WI 53707-7984