Thousands of absentee ballots could be at risk because of missing information in the witness section of the ballot.
Citizens who cast their vote by having their ballots mailed to them are required to have a witness sign the ballot before it’s returned to the appropriate municipality. In addition to their signature, witnesses must also fill out their complete address; street, city/village, state and zip code, according to 2015 Wisconsin Act 261.
Section 78. 6.87 (6d) of the act directs municipal clerks to discard any ballots missing the witness’ address, but not all citizens were aware of this change and absentee ballots were returned incomplete. Clerks across the state asked the Wisconsin Ethics and Elections Commission for clarification.
The commission on Oct. 4 issued a directive to help clerks rectify discrepancies by providing a number of options, including:
- Calling the voter for permission to complete the certificate envelope;
- Invite the voter to discard their original ballot and fill out a new one;
- The voter and/or witness can appear in person to complete the certificate; and
- Voter/witness can provide the address over the phone or via email or fax
In the City of Racine, Clerk Janice Johnson-Martin’s office has received 554 absentee ballots, 122 of which were missing information. Johnson-Martin said 71 of those ballots have been corrected.
“We are working on (fixing) the remaining ballots,” she told Racine County Eye via email. “(We are) trying to contact the voter to get permission to complete the missing information.”
Absentee ballots in the Villages of Caledonia and Mount Pleasant so far have been complete and clerks there haven’t had to take any corrective measures.