Wisconsin Elections Commission holds emergency teleconference, GOP appeals today's court ruling | WisCommunity

Wisconsin Elections Commission holds emergency teleconference, GOP appeals today's court ruling

April 2, 2020 - 8:09pm
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Commission members expressed dismay that today's court order did not follow the letter the commission wrote expressing support for extending the deadline for receiving absentee ballots by allowing ballots to be counted that were postmarked by election day rather than received by election day.

The commission then voted unanimously to go into closed session to discuss whether further litigation on the ruling was required. While waiting for the commission to come out of closed session we were informed that the state and national Republican Parties have filed an appeal of today's ruling extending the deadline to return absentee ballots. Also during the meeting, an appeal was filed by an attorney hired by Republicans to represent the legislature.

The commission has been in closed session discussing litigation for nearly 90 minutes. This is an ongoing story and will be updated.

The commission is out of closed session at about 10:50.

Requesting Absentee Ballots

Any development to myvote.wi.gov would take longer than 5 pm tomorrow. Voters will need to make an absentee request for the entire year because they can no longer request just the April 7 absentee ballot. There will be a banner on the site instructing people to do so.

Receiving Absentee Ballots

Guidance will be developed for when results should be made public. The deadline for receiving ballots has nothing to do with postmark but is the date the ballot must be received. There was disagreement on whether the ballots could be dropped off in a dropbox or would need to be mailed to be accepted. Administrator Wolfe said that the WEC's determination was that the order does not say that ballots must be mailed to be accepted late. A motion was made to only accept the late ballots in the mail, but there was no second on the motion.

There will need to be guidance developed for canvassing which may be delayed past the normal times.

A motion was also made to appeal the first part of the decision allowing the extension of the receipt of ballots on the 13th whether they were postmarked on time or not.  The point of contention on the part of Republican members of the commission is that this means the election goes through until the 13th but they are still required to report results on election night because that was not part of the order. The motion failed 3-3. A letter is being sent to the court asking for clarification of when votes will be counted and reported.

.Guidance will be developed for voters on how they will have to affirm that they could not safely have their ballot witnessed. Also, there is the issue of voters who have already submitted a ballot without a signature and if they can certify that they could not obtain it safely. It is also not clear how ballots should be handled that were not witnessed and do not have an affirmation that they could not safely have it witnessed. This guidance will be developed over the next few days. Some preliminary guidance will be provided tomorrow so clerks can continue to do their jobs.

National Guard

On Sunday National Guard members will be trained to work as poll workers, and on Monday they will be assigned to municipalities in the county where they reside that are short of poll workers. Guard members could be assigned outside of their county for roles that are not directly poll-worker related.

Some discussion occurred about whether the commission should attempt to start a campaign to have people vote absentee but it did not go anywhere. 

It must be noted that the order changing the timing of the return of absentee ballots suggested the possibility of further action after the election if it is determined that the election was damaged by the circumstances, but it is believed that with all of the work that has been done it is likely that voter turnout will be similar to comparable elections.

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 PM.

Earlier today Meagan Wolfe, Elections Commission Administrator, to all municipal clerks outlining the court order that arrived today, and advising clerks that more information would be available tomorrow morning for procedures revolving around the changes to absentee voting.

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