Absentee ballot requests increase, come at a price

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ROCK COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - So far, Wisconsin voters have requested more than 946,000 absentee ballots for the November election.

“I’m estimating we’ll probably have about 50,000 absentee ballots to process on election day in Rock County,” Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson said. “Someone told me, I’m probably estimating low.”

So far, Rock County voters have requested 23,000 absentee ballots. That’s 3,500 more than the 2016 general election.

Those ballots comes at a price.

NBC15 Investigates checked in with officials around our viewing area and found most municipalities pay roughly a $1.25 for each absentee ballot. That low estimate factors in printing, envelopes and postage.

“That doesn’t even count the extra labor that you need to do all the stuffing and labor,” Tollefson said.

That money adds up quickly. So, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) stepped in to help.

“A voter has to submit a request before they receive a ballot,” Meagan Wolfe

This spring, the WEC offered a $4.1 million sub-grant to offset election costs caused by the pandemic. Supplies for absentee ballots were at the top of the list.

Absentee ballot supplies first on list of grant assistance
Absentee ballot supplies first on list of grant assistance(Wisconsin Election Commission)

“That probably won’t be enough to cover all of the costs,” Tollefson said.

Tollefson added that every cent matters, and most cities are over-budget and will have to get creative to pay the rest.

“Some of the other funding they can get is from the Road to Recovery grants,” Tollefson said. “They’re going to have to find ways to cut things or move things around, possibly do hiring freezes, there are possible way to handle that, but it has to come from somewhere.”

To register for an absentee ballot online, head to

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